So we are in the fifth day of Ganesh Chaturthi, and my neighbors have been having a ceremony or other twice a day every day. Our parking lot is the temple for family, friends, and neighbors, there’s is a master of ceremonies, there’s singing, and they have set up big loudspeakers which they use to play what seems to be the same Ganesh Chaturthi CD over and over again at full volume. It is actually quite nice and touching how everybody comes together and seems to have a big blast. The whole extended family part is not something I would particular want for myself, but on the surface it looks as if everybody is having a great time, so who knows, maybe these are all picture book happy families with no dirt whatsoever under the carpet. Strangely, later in the evening, after the ceremonies and after they are having some food, they usually end up huddling around a laptop looking at I don’t know what.
Getting home on Thursday was a royal pain in the arse. It was ok until Juhu, but since it was the first immersion day where thousands of people go to Juhu Beach to immerse their Ganesh. Traffic was crawling for a good one and a half hour to get me home the last 5km from there. The cops were a bit overwhelmed trying to separate the processions from the traffic and to stop drivers from ignoring their improvised directions and traffic lanes. Me included, of course, since I am quite happy to report that I am getting pretty good at driving like an Indian.
I had one rickshaw driver pull up next to me at a red light the other day, slamming his hand onto my car, shouting or yelling about something or other. I guess I must have cut him off or maybe he didn’t like the way I was trying to zig zag my way around those atrocious potholes while I was passing him. I have not yet perfected the art of being on the fastest side of the road at various intersections, but I am getting there, and the fact that this rickshaw driver was not the only one yelling at me for my driving can only mean that I would now qualify perfectly well as a NYC cab driver.
Yesterday we had a little expat party in my apartment. That was all fun and well, even though I ended up checking my Blackberry for messages from Ksenia, as usual these days. My maid had made two big bowls of rice and chicken, which apparently no-one was hungry for. Unfortunately, at some point in the evening there was no water in the house, and it didn’t come back until later today afternoon, when I was way overdue for a shower. We also managed to break my CD player somehow, and when I tried to connect the little boombox that we had brought from NYC, it turned out to be covered in stinking mold from sitting around in a closet somewhere. Besides, as soon as I hooked it up to the electrical outlet the fuse of the extension cord blew, so we were without music. At that point, it was raining cats and dogs again, and our neighbors were still chanting and drumming I think. But who cares?
It apparently was a special day for my neighbors, because this time they actually set up a huge buffet and placed a woman onto a special chair centerstage, and everybody looked particularly dressed up. First I thought there’s going to be a wedding, but then I realized that the woman was very pregnant, so no doubt she was already married. I am guessing it was some kind of special child blessing. So while we are having a party on the terrace with our Muslim furniture, there was lots of singing and chanting for Ganesh Chaturthi on the parking lot, later followed by their usual play of Bingo or some sort of raffle, which seems to always come with the food after the ceremonies.
We ended up placing a delivery order for 20 big bottles of Kingfisher, so everyone was happy (well, apart from that there was no diet coke, no water, and no juice I guess). Not surprisingly, I ended up going to sleep while the party continued, but when I woke up, my apartment was in a surprisingly good shape, thanks to K and P, who will hopefully help me finishing off the remaining ten large bottles of Kingfisher one of these days.
Of course, I had a very lazy day at the coffee shop today. But when I got back home, there was a small procession of teenage boys (for some reason, most of these processions seem to be conducted by teenage boys), who were driving their Ganesh in a big truck, spearheaded by about a hundred of them drumming and dancing like crazy. So when I went to take some pictures, they went really wild and put on an extra show. Before I knew it, they pulled me right into the middle of them, and of course my first idiotic thought was Uh oh, there goes my camera!
They had no interest whatsoever in my camera other than shouting and yelling to take pictures of them while they were dancing around me like, well, I guess like Indian teenage boys at Ganesh Chaturthi. The fun only lasted for about 15 seconds, when some important looking older guy said thanks, shook my hand, and escorted me out of the crowd back to the sidelines, i.e. basically into the traffic. I almost got hit by the car, took some pictures of the back of the truck, and then went home.
The big final day, when supposedly thousands of Ganeshes get immersed into the water is either next Saturday or next Sunday; there’s different reports about that. I bet it will be one crazy scary event, but I am determined to go right into the middle of it, wherever that is.