Festivities in 2020

A few days ago, I attended a birthday party of my 2-year-old nephew on Zoom. As expected, it was beautiful but chaotic. Most of the guests (their age ranged from 2-year-olds to 75-year-olds) were using Zoom for the first time. At least they hadn’t attended with so many participants. But it was the only way possible. Since it happened online, people who would ignore such parties, also joined in.

That is the basic premise of 2020. People are more connected than ever. We also realize that online is not the same as in-person.

This would be my 3rd time in 10 years away from my hometown when I am going to spend Diwali (the biggest festival for me and my family) in Bangalore. As I write this, it is raining here. I just switched off the lights which I installed outside. There’s hardly any noise of crackers this time. Out of say 50 houses, I see from my balcony, only 5 of them barely show any glitter which looks Diwali-worthy. A lot has happened this year already which has brought more gloom than glee. The picture outside doesn’t really help. And this is all compared to the usual hoopla the festival of Diwali is in Jaipur. If I say Jaipur is designed for Diwali, it won’t be an understatement. Most of the friends here have either left Bangalore or are staying far away.

We could have stayed gloomy and kept it dark. But we did step up and tried to do our bit. Again, I am not bursting crackers, but I did install some Lights outside, we bought dozens of Diyas and Candles, we are making some Diwali special dishes, prepping up to make rangoli, and doing everything possible to make it memorable. We won’t go outside as the pandemic is still not over. This time, we would celebrate it on Zoom. It would be chaotic, but it would still be beautiful. This might give another opportunity to connect with folks, with whom, it has been a long time no see situation.

Happy Diwali to everyone staying away from their homes! And by home, I mean people you care about. Let’s brighten things up!

Diwali Lamps

Final Word on Crackers on Diwali

Let’s give it a try. By not bursting firecrackers this time? I know it is a cliche but have we really given it a go, completely ever? Obviously, I cannot force or coerce anyone. I am just thinking out loud.

  • What if, the next morning of Diwali, roads look a bit cleaner, devoid of white and red leftovers of the crackers, half-burnt sparkle sticks, crushed flower pots, and rockets gone haywire?
  • What if, the air feels a bit lighter than the usual next day? Easier to breathe for non-asthmatic people too.
  • What if, instead of spending 2 hours outside the home, you reconnect with family and friends, just by having a conversation?
  • What if, money spent on Firecrackers can be put to some other use?
  • We have known Diwali to be full of loud noises throughout the evening and late into the night. What if it is just silent in decibels? But all the shiny and fancy clothes, houses, markets, and shops staying intact.
  • What if it works out and we end up liking it this way?

Let’s give it a try.

Mandatory Valentine's Day Post

I was a shy guy from the onset. Though I could blabber around freely with my guy pals, I was slightly meek when it came to talking with girls. Because of this inability to talk to them, they probably mistook me as an arrogant chap. Though I didn’t care much about others, there was someone in the same class which was a class apart. She, who had joined the classes the same year only, used to sit 2 desks in front of me. But like it always happen, was never able to gather enough courage to talk to her directly.  I thought that maybe she also thinks of me as a rude boy who doesn’t know how to talk to girls. Days went by, but the story remained the same until one day when I got the super powerful, the best thing invented after wheel and fire, ‘The Internet’.

I thought that okay; I might not be able to confront her directly so why not take the help of the media which everyone uses. It was 8th November of the year 2007. Diwali was on the 9th. I knew that visiting her profile will mean leaving my footprint on her home page, thanks to Profile’s visitor feature of Orkut. Still, I wanted to wish her Diwali on her scrapbook. I quickly made up fake profile on it and sent her a friend request. I kept sure that the profile didn’t look fake and I made no attempt to make it look cool. I just made it same as mine except a changed name. And posted a scrap on her profile wishing her a very happy diwali. Also, I mentioned her that I was in her previous school, so sent the request and the scrap just like that.

I used to check for her reply, each and every day but didn’t have any luck. After the Diwali break got over, I was on 7th heaven. She not only replied but also accepted my friend request. And hence began the most wonderful time of my life. Weird that it started online and continued to be online.

We chatted daily. I have no idea how and why but probably because I remained myself in my fake account she and I gelled pretty well together. She shared her ambitions in her life and I told her mine. Soon we became best buddies online. She used to come online daily in the night 9.30 PM and so did I. We kept on chatting and chatting and chatting till my Mom begged me to sleep.

On the other hand, off line, my relationship with her stayed the same. I still couldn’t talk to her directly. Whenever she brushed past me, my heart used to take 2 360 degrees somersaults. I thought this is good this way only. At least in some way I was in touch with her.

It was January. While on online front we had became best buddies while off line we remained stranger. Valentine’s Day was in a month’s time. I thought that this is the best opportunity to reveal her my real identity and let’s take it forward in the real offline world.

It was Jan 9th. We were in school that day, as I clearly remember. I was to board my bus to go home and she was sitting in her’s. And then the tragedy happened. As soon as her bus was about to take a turn, a truck coming from the other side hit the bus. The impact of the truck was not major but it shook the bus off. As she was sitting on the seat nearer to the door, she fell out of the bus and severely got injured. She fainted and blood started to rush through her head. Everyone ran towards her and took her to the nearby hospital. I was about a 100 ft distance and I just stared at the scene. I couldn’t move and couldn’t speak. She was admitted to a hospital and we were informed that she has gone into coma. I used to go online daily but she stayed offline. On Feb 14th I got to know that she had passed away. I was as heartbroken as if someone had snatched my soul away. School declared a day off and the scenario in the premises was sheer sadness.

Time went by and activities in school became normal. Sadness stayed with me though. I still couldn’t believe what had happened on that day. Call me idiot or what but I still couldn’t show to the world that how well I knew her. What she wanted from life, what she wanted to become, who all were there in her family, what she thought of me, I kept thinking daily all the time. I used to go online every night, just to see a grey dot in front of her name. Though as a rule, I used to read the chat history to feel better. They were so full of life though there was no life left in them. And time moved on once again.

It was Feb 14th a year later, Valentine’s Day once again. I was still the same shy guy who was single. My mood was as dull as it had been since many years. I was over her but a part of me still longed for her. I switched on my computer and opened the Gtalk. There were no contacts but her and still the grey dot stayed there. I shook my head and decided to delete the fake profile once and for all. When I was about to click the delete button, the grey dot in front of her name became green, a notification popped from the right bottom corner of my screen and a ping came saying ‘Hi <my real name>’.