Tag Archive | Ganpati

3 pm at the Promenade

I haven’t ranted in so long my ranty shoes are pinching. I wonder if I need a new pair, or if perhaps a little wearing in will get them all supple once again.

Which reminds me that I need to exercise, so I went for a walk the other day. To be honest, it was more of a car ride, then a lunch halt at Saayba in Bandra, which still makes the most mouthwatering spicy seafood dishes this side of the suburbs. Though I wish they’d de-veined their tiger prawns in the special that I ordered. But my normally queasy constitution held up just fine. It probably was the Sol Kadi that did it… Oh and btw as far as Sol Kadis go, my vote would go to Central Lunch Home in Colaba. Their stuff’s real potent, and bloody delicious too. If you haven’t heard of Central, just take a trip down Colaba Causeway towards Sassoon Dock and ask for Saurabh hotel. That’s the Udipi place Gregory David Roberts aka Shantaram, Mumbai unofficial socialite tour-guide took Madonna, for dosas, and a whiff of the Sassoon dock. So go there and ask for Central, you’d probably get a cold stare, but you’ll find Central and the Sol Kadi. Believe me, it’s worth it.

So car ride, leisurely lunch (surprisingly light) and back into the car for a ride down to Carter Road, in the afternoon sun, which thankfully decided to play a bit of a hide n seek game with some clouds.

I decided to can the walk and just sit by the sea and watch the waves.

Dude… Where’s my wave?

But low tide can be such a kill-joy. So I stared at the rocks and the herons, and at fishermen mending their nets in the hazy distance, and at a group of crows pecking on… watermelon! Who knew? And at a young couple grabbing some alone time far out where the rocks were worn out enough to provide an unjagged seat.

The birds and the bees

At least someone was glad for the low tide that day.

And then as I perched on the ledge and dangled my feet off the edge I saw it.

Where have all the flowers gone...

Now, I’ve always said that we’re a hypocritical  and shallow lot. We preach and don’t practice. We want to end corruption and will rant and rave against the system, but we’re willing to offer a bribe if it means moving to the front of the line. Time is money, a friend who runs a business told me once, a month after she vociferously yelled her lungs out against corruption at a rally. We can’t help it, it’s ingrained in our systems. We’re perfect people in an imperfect world.

What’s wrong with sex determination and female foeticide, after all don’t we just love women. We even worship them, our plethora of female deities, lavishing their cold, lifeless but gaudily bedecked images with jewellery and expensive silk. Then we go home and probably slap our wives in the face because they don’t make the dal like our mother’s did.

Not forgetting our obsession with beauty, and the yardstick by which we judge it. All clamouring for white skin on Asian bodies, we even slap so much paint on our Gods, we forget their divinity as we dance around them to raucous Hindi film music. And then we rant about being colonised by the British, slamming everything we oppose as a western import, while still being slaves to the west, clamouring for American degrees, even if it’s from some back alley college without certification. And calling each other bros! Oh come on now, what on earth happened to the good old bhaiyya or bhai (brother). But bro it is, picked up by all and sundry.

Why even the girls use it… Pick up the code book while you’re at it chicas.

So no wonder Ganesh lies amidst the rocks, discarded and unclaimed. Feted while he was beautiful, and immersed into the sea amidst much pomp and revelry. Only to be thrown back by the relentless waters, stripped of his veneer, where he lies unnoticed and unclaimed, his hand still raised in blessing on an indifferent people.

God... But only with your paint on!

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Sleepless in Mumbai…

It’s day one of the 11 day Ganpati festival, celebrating the elephant headed god of good fortune that people seem to love… or as my neighbour very sweetly corrected me this evening it’s day one and a half…

Whatever!

Anyway there’s just 10 more days to go before the raucousness comes to an end…

What the..?

It’s 3 in the morning and I can’t sleep, the wild beating of drums and the screams of “Ganpati Bappa Moriya” soar over the purr of the air-conditioning. What are you people on?

You’d think God was deaf, or will get there soon enough, the way these guys are going at it.

“Hey you! You could let people sleep you know…”

&%@#$^&!!! (unarticulated)

But the truth is I’m a wee bit jealous… envious of the joy with which the crowds dance as they wend their way through the streets. The men do most of the dancing, streaked with gulaal, gyrating their hips and flinging their arms with abandon… the women walking sedately behind, except for the more brazen ones. Enjoyment seems to be a male prerogative… Even the aarti’s are mostly sung by men.

A rather discordant guy in the building next door leads the prayer everyday… bellowing out the first few bars before he is drowned out by the crowd joining in. Thank God! But he’s not quitting… and as soon as the crowd quietens down he launches into a numerical ditty in honour of the god. A one, two buckle my shoe kinda routine in praise of Ganpati…

I hope they’re immersing their idol today. I can’t take another day of that water buffalo bellowing over the microphone… damn his devotion.

But I love the processions. They really get me, when I’m not stuck in traffic. It’s so easy to get swept up by the rhythm, and into the spirit of the moment…that frenzied beating of the drums. They have to be on something other than adrenaline.

A year ago and I was at Juhu, sitting in a dive with friends and watching the crowds descend onto the beach from my comfortable perch. The colour, the happiness, the festivity… it made those awful filmi songs being played by some of the groups bearable. But the filmi music’s dying out slowly, giving way to the bhajan, the more devotional and spiritual songs. Even the dancing has lost its Salmanesque panache and has retreated to the traditional lezim, a beautiful folk dance you rarely get to see anymore except if there’s a recital at Ravindra Natya Mandir… it’s a visual treat.

I’m tempted to get out and on to the street. I can’t see anything from my house on the first floor with no balcony and with all the windows looking on to other buildings… but I drum my feet against the parquet floor softly in tune with the sound of the dholaks and kettle drums. It’s a delicious sound… full of the yumminess of steamed modaks and puran poli and other things Maharashtrian.

So the cats outta the bag. I’m a Ganpati groupie. I love this festival… with all its raucousness, its crazy dancing, all those wolf-whistles and the accompanying traffic snarls. I may even tolerate the number chanting loud-mouth from next door for a few more days… I know I’ll miss it when it’s over. It’s the same deal every year. This is home.