We did not do Diwali right this year.
We rolled back into town last night a bit too late to go out and catch any of the festivities. I did not go out and buy the lights or the Rangoli kit I had hoped to or go take photos at all of the markets I wanted to.
Our teething and travel-worn toddler seemed desperately in need of a quiet day at home today, so this morning Chris slept in while Will restored our home to it’s natural state of disorder and chaos. For my part, I stayed in my pajamas and helped make blueberry pancakes. Afterwards we taught will how to rock out to Journey.
In the afternoon, after Will’s nap, we headed over to Nehru park to meet some neighbors and friends for a late afternoon walk. The evening light was beautiful as we walked through fields of flowers and side-stepped dozens of couples making out on park benches and men trying to sell us bags of chips and bottled water. India may be an incredibly conservative country when it comes to all manners dealing with sex, but something about public park benches and historic ruins seems to bring out the amorous in the most seemingly chaste of couples.
The top of the stone pyramid on which Will and Chris are standing was actually about 15 feet high. We kept trying to convince Will to crawl up on one of the shorter ones nearby but he would have none of it.
While I would have loved to drive around town all day checking out the markets and the holiday hustle and bustle, Will was certainly happier that we stayed home. And after he went to bed, I did slip out the front door with my camera and run down the street to find out where all of the fireworks were coming from.
Everywhere, as it turns out. They were coming from everywhere. A large extended family was shooting off fireworks in the street opposite the high compound wall in front of our house. Around the corner, a few kids were lighting fireworks in an empty can and kicking embers into passing cars. I followed a trail of lights down another street towards the mini slum next to the school and watched as hundreds of kids-many underdressed in the cool night air-giddily threw round after round of cheap fireworks onto the ground and watched them explode. I stayed for a few minutes just taking in the scene until a few boys started chucking fireworks at my head. That seemed as good a cue as any that it was time to head home.
The problem with cheap fireworks is that, while no fireworks are safe, the cheapest ones have an alarming tendency to explode without warning–and in all directions at once. As I ran around shooting for a few minutes I realized what a chicken I was, staying as far away as I could without missing a shot while kids as young as 6 ran around with lit fireworks held just an arms-length away from their skinny torsos. At least I could stay far away. Having lived through a Chinese New Year celebration last year, its terrifying to be surrounded by hundreds of thousands of fireworks all being lit at the time, in every direction, within the space of just a few dense city blocks. While it would be neat to see the celebrations going on all over town here in New Delhi tonight, I’ll admit a part of me is very grateful to know that we can go to bed in a few hours and hopefully get some sleep.
A rare family photo courtesy of this lovely lady whose finally back in Delhi.