Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Galis of Gated-Community Delhi: Holi Hooliganry

I headed on foot to the grocery store - a few blocks from my house. As I passed a tiny neighborhood park, I heard a loud splat at my feet. Looking down, I saw a puddle of water. A bit disconcerted, I looked around and with raised eyebrows, said “Umm.. Excuse me?” to no one in particular, because I couldn’t see anyone. Then I heard a voice below - a little boy - “Didi didi its those boys over there that did it.” I looked across the park and sure enough, a group of 6-7 boys of various ages stood with water-filled balloons in their hands. I walked up to them. They watched me approach, poker-faced all.  

“Did you throw the balloon at me?” No reply. The youngest broke his poker-face and dissolved into giggles. The house under which they were standing had a family of 8, parents included, standing at the balcony.  

“Are these kids yours?” I called to the adults  

“All kids are like our own” came the lazy drawling Delhi-boy answer. This tone is sometimes charming, but on this occasion, not so much.  

“Well then, if they’re like yours, keep them under control!” I snapped. At this point, a lot more kids broke into snickers. Infuriated, I turned towards the market and marched off. Two more balloons burst at my feet. Saving the little dignity that had been spared for me, I declined to acknowledge them.  

After the shopping, came the time to decide how I would head back. I could take a longer route and avoid these kids altogether, but that would be a defeat. I considered buying more eggs that I could throw back at them but that would be war and I was far outnumbered. So I headed back, my only concession to them was that I walked around the other side of the park. No use - a few more splatters at my feet - luckily they all had missed me so far.  

After a couple of blocks, I found a couple of policemen sitting around, engaged in serious discussion - no doubt a sabziwallah had been caught flirting with a housewife in the community or something absorbingly outrageous like that. I approached one of them - a rotund friendly-looking sort.  

“Bhaisaab, I would like to complain about a bunch of kids throwing balloons at me.”  

He looked at me. That poker-face again!  

“Yes ma’am - where are they?”  

“Oh just down the street at the park - I’m sure its not illegal, but it was annoying - could you just go and scare them?”  

Grinning, he headed down. But now I was afraid - I had upped the ante - no doubt, if I passed that way again, I would be seriously pelted. I got home and called my husband for sympathy.  

"Sorry babe, I used to be those boys a few years ago” was his response.  

No help there. These past few days, I’ve not been walking down those streets. For grocery shopping, I call my driver and have him take me to another, more distant, store. Perhaps getting a little wet wouldn’t have been so bad after all. Holi spirit and all. Huh.


Sanjana said...

well holi spirit and all yes, but it does get out of hand.. surprisingly holi in bombay was quite muted this time. i saw hardly anyone out on the roads, and ventured out twice - both times unscathed!

selva ganapathy said...

I'm not sure if there is a kind of solution to this, but yes things have been not well at every holi... its getting worse and worse, but its the family where the culture and tradition of holi should be inculcated.

Sherebanu said...

Oh ho - its hardly a problem. I'm just a bit scared that I'm now one of THOSE grown-ups who gets all grumpy. Kahaa gaye woh din of fun and teasing.

Sanjana said...

lol then I was BORN as one of "those grown-ups" :-)