Diwali and such

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Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Madurai
October 25th 2006
Published: October 25th 2006EDIT THIS ENTRY

Saturday was the Diwali festival. I had heard much about it from everyone, yet when they described it, it justy didnt seem that amazing. You buy yourself a new set of clothes, wear them, then set of small firecrackers. Woohoo. Well, it was amazing and heres why:

1) Good company (I went to my friend's family's house)
2) Good food (I honestly think I must have topped 18 dosais for the day. To put that in perspective, each one is about a foot in diameter.)
3) Fireworks
4) Fireworks
5) Fireworks

Hopefully you get the point. Here, fireworks really are what the holiday is all about. "We've got that, its called July 4th" you might say. No! We dont have that. On that day we just sit around and look at one stream of fireworks go up from a set point, all very safe and all very tidy. Here, people save their money for the entire year for the fireworks. I mean, at the fireworks store I saw people who lived on the tightest of shoestring budgets spending 300 rupees. These are people who can only afford, or so it seemed, to be able to buy the 2 rupee shampoo packages and are living day to day.

Billy woke up in the morning, heard the usual booms and cracks, stood up and strechted in my foxhole.
"Them Germans aint never gonna end the shellin is they?" enquired Johnny.
"You aint been to the front for long 'ave ya boy?" Billy responded. "The Germans just keep fucking letting 'em off, an' lettin' 'em off. You just gotta learn to blot it out.
Just then a shell landed no lmore than 10 feet away from the foxhole with a deafening bang, tossing up dirt and spraying it over the hole until both men were comepletely brown. Johnny had hit the deck and was wimpering on the floor like a puppy that is has urinated ont on the floor and has brought its owner's wrath upon it. Billy was standing stoicly, same bored expression on his face, still chewing on his tobacco.

Ok, why that little story? Well, cuz it kinda explains the day. You wake up and if i didnt know about the holiday I would be 100% sure there was a military battle raging. All day long kids set off these crackers (flashbangs) which, even at 100 years could be deafening. This raged all day long and every time one went of I would jump in suprise. People thought it quite funny since they wouldn't even flinch, even when an "atom bomb" (the loudest one) went off unexpectedly 15 feet from them. I was really feelin like Johnny.

Once ngith fell, however, it was the most amazing thing. I bought some fireworks and so did the my friend's little brother. We set them off on the terrace of their house. Every house has a terrace on the top, which is probably a big part of the spectacle. When standing on the roof/terrace, you can see for about a mile and in the majority of those houses fireworks (little ground spinners were being set off. But thats not all, No! You know the fireworks you expect to see on July 4th? The real deal ones that go up really really high and light up the whole sky? Well, many,many people were setting those off too. It was really special. Something about the spontaneity brought it to life. "Oh theres one" "Look over there. You missed it. Now over to your left." Your head had to be on a swivel to catch it all.

Other ruminations: india is not efficient, but I swear, it brings out people's ingenuity. For example the bike repairman. He sets up shop bnext to a fence. He built an overhang out of bamboo and fixes bikes, mine yesterday, without usually any nuts, or parts. Instead his weapon of choice is a hammer and whatever gets the job done such as a bomboo sliver or piece of wire. Really, each person gets by with whatever is around them without looking for the "correct" part. My dad would be in heaven with his Cheerios box paper sorters and lego robots.

Non india related thought: I hear rich people say that they dont think there should be affirmative action, since it gives non-whites an unfair advantage and separates us from living life as equals. The more I think about it, the more I agree with them. Well, except for the unfair advantage. However, I pose this question to them. Would you be willing to make a concession to end affirmative action? Would you be willing to equally divide within a state all the money coming from land taxes so that each school would get money based only upon how many kids they teach? If one is not willing to do this, and one does not want affirmative action, even econically based affirmative action, then isn't that person really saying that they are trying to remain on the top? I know these school districts would fight this tooth and nail. Something along these lines has already been passed by the New York Supreme court, and is currently being appealed by some rich school district in Westchester. Maybe it was Harrison, oh bounteous land of fair million dollar observatories. Yeah, thats a good use of public funds. You know what would happen if this were to be passed too. The rich schools just wouldnt have enough money too offer a good education. Sure some might dip into their own wallets, but mayeb some might even push for more funding for education on a national level. I dunno, Ive just been thinkin alot about education and I really believe it to be the main avenue to greater equality. Theoretically I would approve of welfare being phased out over a period of 35 years and the money going into social programs for the youth. Hell, dont even phase it out, jsut put some more money, of which there is more than enough of into those prgrams. Anyway, yeah, rant over, hope it makes at least some sense


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