I’m feeling inexplicably nostalgic today about Holi. I love this festival of colours and very badly want to celebrate it this year, but it looks like it’s going to be just another regular day for me.
My first holi in a city that actively celebrated it was in Delhi. Winter had just about started to melt away and spring was in the air (of course, this is a given considering Holi is a celebration of Spring!). I’d recently broken up with my first boyfriend and we were in that delusional phase where we thought we could still be friends. Thankfully, we managed to play along and keep peace that day. My friend and I went over to his house, a sprawling villa that he shared with a bunch of his friends, and we started our war of colours with the neighbours! I don’t remember much of it, but I know it involved a lot of running around and a lot of laughing! I also remember that blue was the dominant colour that day, cos someone thought it’d be fun to use ink (ink!!!) instead of gulal.
Afterwards, we took the bikes and rode out to the Delhi-Gurgaon highway to find a place to eat. We stopped at a dhaba and ordered tandoori roti, chicken kadai, and mattar-paneer all topped with a huge dollop of ghee right before serving. By the way, you can’t avoid paneer if you’re in Delhi. There’ll always be at least one vegetarian in the group who’ll order it in some form or the other. But I digress…
It was a warm day full of sunshine and the food, like all dhaba food, was delicious. We had bottles of Limca spiked with vodka with us which we would sneak mouthfuls of from the bottle. Riding back, I noticed that the entire city was awash in colours, like everyone had been through some kind of rainbow explosion. Everywhere I looked, people had the faces smeared in reds, yellows, pinks and every colour imaginable.
Regrettably, I don’t have any photographs of that day. It was before smartphones and instagrams became the norm and if you wanted pictures, you’d need a film camera. I remember going back to work the next day with my fingernails still stained in red and blue and laughing at colleagues who had tinges of colour in their ears and hair. It would take a while for the colours to be washed off, sure. But the memories… they last a lifetime!