A disclaimer before I begin – by ‘real’ I mean ‘mine’.
I love holidays, and when they’re government holidays, even better. I don’t know about other countries, but the Indian calendar is the most pleasant calendar in my opinion. Depending on which state you live in, outside of weekends you get multiple holidays or as I like to call them, excuses. The one benefit of having multiple religions and multiple Gods is that you never have a dull year.
As a child, I lived for holidays because those were days you got to miss school without having to pretend to be sick. If there was a strike or a protest, we’d wait for the school to declare a holiday. Strife in the country was our come up. I think the only reason I read the newspaper as a kid was to know if the state government was going to declare a holiday.
I would be in my uniform at the breakfast table looking pitiful and suddenly my Dad would say, “You know today has been declared a holiday.” I can’t describe the joy I felt in those moments. I felt like undoing my tie and throwing it up in the air. Whenever I wore my blood red school tie I felt like I was being put in a collar. Apart from all the various subjects, I was forced to learn how to tie a tie and polish my shoes. Looking at how my life progressed, the latter two learnings proved more useful to my life.
I felt like the government was on our side. If there was a bus drivers’ strike we got a day off, if petrol prices were hiked we got a holiday. We waited for the government to do something wrong so that we could stay at home and watch more of Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Disney. Then as a teenager, we wanted a day off to avoid having to give a test or to complete homework.
In college, if we didn’t get holidays we’d make them. In fact, we used to do complex math at the start of the year to see how many classes we could miss and still meet the required attendance. I wanted long holidays before our mid-sem vacations so I could fly home. How times change?
Holidays have now become a spectacle, whenever a holiday comes around I feel like I have to have something to show for it. People will take selfies in ethnic wear and of traditional food, make boomerangs with their other well-dressed friends or relatives and tell everyone that their holiday was ‘lit’. I, on the other hand, scroll through the photos liking them while I sit in my shorts asking my mother why our family doesn’t always enjoy the excitement and what we have for dinner.
Today, we’re going to burst lemons with the wheels of our vehicles. Don’t worry I am not deranged, it’s a festival. See, we worship everything. You know the line in Lion King? “Everything the light touches….” It’s a poignant line, in our case everything the light touches, belongs to God. Ergo, we shall hang some flowers on our number plates, place a lemon under each wheel, say a prayer with lit incense sticks, sit behind the driver’s wheel and drive over the lemons to burst them. Basically thanking God for giving us the vehicles and to keep showering blessings on us. If I have got this wrong, feel free to correct me or add to it.
I am also made to run my bicycle over lemons too which is an ordeal in itself. As a skinny child, I could never burst those lemons, they’d always go rolling to the corner of the garage. My family would watch me desperately struggling with all my might until amusement turned into pity and my Dad would do what I couldn’t do in seconds without even sitting on the bike. It hurt my skinny pride.
I am proud to say I can do it now. Of course, I take seven minutes, trying to pulverise the lemons. To be fair a bicycle runs on man power while cars run on horsepower. So you might look glamorous in a car whereas on a cycle you’ll just look like a person who’s raging against two lemons going back and forth.
Every time a holiday comes now, I wonder what I can do that will be exciting. I want to put up posts of having a good time too. My Mum took a few days off this week to spend time with me, and we being who we are have just eaten and watched movies. Today we’ll bake, but that’s as exciting as it gets. I really don’t know how so many people manage to make every holiday exciting. In a country like ours, you need to be a genius to have fun on every holiday because there are so many. After a point it gets repetitive. The Gods are different but the format remains the same.
I’ve never understood holidays, I always treated them like a concept that just happens to exist like trees or plants. It just is what it is. I rarely look for reasons and I rarely share the excitement. Maybe holidays are there to have structured fun. To make sure everybody enjoys a bit in a year. They exist just because. Holidays are good for everybody because capitalists get to make money, families get to hang out, friends get to meet, everyone gets good food and we are given a break from work.
We’re all celebrating something different right now, some people Navratri, some Durga Puja, some Dussehra, my community – Kaveri Sankramana. It’s interesting how all these festivals appear collectively around this time every year. It’s a fun time, the school buses aren’t seen on the roads, the roads are nice to drive on and people look happy on social media and otherwise.
I think I won’t burst lemons when I start living on my own, maybe I’ll never buy incense sticks or hang flowers on my number plate. But every time a holiday comes, I think I might just do it for the sake of memories if not for anything else, just because.