Thursday, October 27, 2011

….Deepawali in Jaipur


::This report filed at 2000hrs Jaipur time by blogger Mir Ali embedded in the CSC unit at Camp Girisadan:
After a 24-hour barrage, the smoke is starting to lift and the explosions and rocket fire in the background are starting to get less frequent. As we duck and weave and make are way around the outlines of smoky buildings toward the fast food store we see silhouettes in dark doorways waiting to ignite fuses. Flash…rat-a-tat…in the next alleyway a ladi is triggered…the 1000 or so little firecrackers strung together start to go off in concert…a violent rain-like sound with dancing flashes and embers that instantly turn the alley into a disco. Like marines, we move onward…gotta make the Kanha restaurant before the chicken-corn soup runs out. Out to my left behind the tower a sharp whistle as a rocket ascends into the sky. Ahead of me an auto-rickshaw ominously barrels straight for us, its driver looking heavenward…
As Deepawali approached, earlier this week, we went out to the local arms and fruit market and stocked up on firecrackers and custard-apples. I bought rockets (so many turned out to be duds but I guess you can return burnt rockets to arms dealers…besides they don’t come with serial numbers) and stocked up on firey spinning chakras. I acquired a mix of red sparklers and white sparklers…of little bombs and big bombs. My prized acquisition is the whistling rocket that bolts out of the bottle, ascends into the sky, explodes in a shower….and wait wait wait…now you’ll see it….little mini-explosive shrapnel that got dispersed by the first big bang explode in a second more deliberate, delayed and colorful orchestra of pyrotechnics. That was the best explosive in my arsenal until my fearless Australian friend Fay went to a different dealer. She bought the 10-hottest-bombs set, complete with original carton showing the 10 bollywood beauties: Kareena kapoor, Aishwarya Rai, Priety zinta……Raji Mukerji….!!! Bollywood does everthing better…
Last night at the stroke of Diwali, team India13 headed silently up the stairs to the 4th floor landing and then crawled up a second narrow stairway to the roof. All around us were beams, beats, single explosions, eruptions, circular trajectory rockets, sudden intense explosions that storm the ribcage, brilliant showers of red and green, golden and purple, rapid fire sequences and beautiful soundless pictures with far away specks of light giving birth to umbrellas and canopies.
It soon became obvious, there are certain neighborhoods that are better prepared for the battles of Deepawali! Militias of kids patrolled certain rooftops, setting off sequences, planning the next sky dances, synchronizing the sound and light shows.... On the rooftop due north of us it appeared at some point that a decision had been reached…”lets show them everything we got… Yessir!!”. For the next half hour I stood mesmerized as the showoff rooftop was transformed into a veritable launching pad….rockets were ignited non-stop and ascended in swarms, beacons of interrupted light flashed as bomb sequences ran their course, kids scurried purposefully, maybe fearfully, mostly triumphantly.
Not to be outdone the A-team off to our left mobilized. Maybe their plan all along was to let the others’ ammo run out. Now they were in the ascent…their rockets soared overhead, their pinks, yellows and reds painted the night sky and their drumbeat ruled the neighborhood. Yiiiiiihaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!
We unpacked our loot…laid it all out, selected what we wanted and went to work. It was wonderful, at once adrenaline pumping and calmingly beautiful! Writing names and letters with sparklers…multiple movements being captured by slow-exposure cameras, silly teenage celebrations of joy witnessed by handycams, the fun of indulging, the instant attainment of gratification, appreciating the art, creating the art, of being multiple artists creating and restoring one fleeting celestial mural, participating in this magical interaction between fire and smoke, darkness and light!!!