Holi Sh*t

A couple weeks back I had the pleasure/pain of partaking in Holi.  Which is the famous color festival in India.  People had mentioned that I should stay off the streets and I was happy to oblidge.  Running around and having people I don’t know throw stuff in my face is usually not my sort of thing.  I prefer the more laid back holidays…

It started the Friday of that weekend.  I had a busy day at work travelling to all of my NGO’s seven vocational school centers to display the latest banners and documents.  Some of my co-workers had discussed that they would get me with the colors that day and I responded that they should try and see what happens (I was looking for the hindi translation of “I wish a sucka would throw colors on me”).  After travelling all day I bumped into some of my co-workers at one the vocational schools in the triveni slum.  I could just tell by their faces they were gonna come after me.  We locked eyes and I took off but something told me to just play along so I let one of them catch me.  They were cool and only got me a little.  I was a good sport…

I knew the kids at the children’s village were having their own holi celebration and they had repeated asked me if I would come.  I always responded with a “maybe” or “we’ll see” knowing that I didn’t really want to go.  The day before Holi I had a change of heart knowing the kids would appreciate it if I came so I relented and took the two our bus ride to Achrol Saturday night.  What can I say, “tej loves the kids”.

Sunday morning I put on my basketball shorts (which everyone prefers to call “chadies” or underwear) and my worst t-shirt (AIF orientation t-shirt which shrunk two sizes after the first wash).  I went outside and waited for the madness to begin.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I told myself to just play along and enjoy the experience. I was entirely unprepared for the experience that was about to unfold…

They begin handing out bags full of dry colored dust to the children and they all proceed to smearing it onto each other’s faces.  I knew to avoid the bright pink and purple colors because they don’t wash off well and I had no desire walking around jaipur looking like a smurph for the following week.  A couple little kids approach me with green and yellow color bags and I let them throw the colors on me with a smile on my face.  It’s all playful and everyone is having a good time.

I look up and see one of the staff members approaching me with a purple bag and I take off.  He chases me but he’s got no chance of catching me.  Next thing I know I see 4 more of the older kids coming after me.  Not concerned I let them come thinking I will get some good wrestling practice in.  I begin throwing them off me one by one.  I make the mistake of not looking behind me and one of the older kids crashes into my legs from behind.  I go down.  Next thing I know kids and staff members are all over me aggressively smearing different colors onto face.  I look up and a bucket of muddy water comes crashing into my face (since when was throwing muddy water into peoples faces a custom of holi?)  As I spit the mud and colored paint from my mouth I think to my self “Ohhh so its like that huh”.  From that point forward vengeance was my sole objective, I was on a mission.

I go after the first staff member I can get my hands on.  “D” is a scrappy villager who has the classic Indian frame.  He’s got no chance, I take him down and from mount I dump sand and colors onto his face.  I move to the next.  A slightly larger staff member “B” who has been asking for it for some time.  I chase him down and lock up with him.  I surprisingly have trouble taking him down (I am reminded about how badly I need to work on my takedowns).  I finally snap him down, take his back and flatten him out.  With me sitting on top of his back I proceeded to stick his face into the mud and sand on the ground.  I must admit I was not very friendly during this process.

From then on I singled out all of the older boys who got me.  Given my experience in brazilian jui jitsu nobody had a chance.  I must admit it felt good letting my inner ape out and rolling around, it’s been a couple years.

The madness reaches a fever pitch as they start to one by one pick up people and dump them into a muddy pit where the cows graze (who knows what other than mud is in that pit).  I see this happening and tell myself that I will be damned if anyone gets me close to that pit.  As they throw the last staff member in, the attention shifts to me.  I look at one of the staff members and flex and say “come over here and see what happens (in hindi)”.  He charges at me and I easy throw him out of the way.  Another comes at me and I take him down (big mistake).  The older kids jump on me. First 2, then 3, then 4, then 5, then 6, then 7, then 8, then 9, finally 10 (at the time I had no idea how many people it was, but I was later informed of the number).  They start to pry my legs and arms away from me.  I get up and they lock onto my legs.  Knowing that I have to stay on my feet I do my best to maintain my balance.  Eventually my legs are pulled out from under me.  As I go down I grab onto the biggest staff member I can find and hold on.  Slowly I feel my legs stretching into the air, for the first time the thought actually enters my mind (these guys could actually get me into that mud pit).  I panic.  I lock onto any limbs I can reach. They are all over me.  Slowly they get me off the ground.  I can’t believe it.  I do absolutely everything in my power to resist.  Yet still one by one they were able to pry my limbs away from me and pick me off the ground.  I can’t remember the last time I felt this helpless.

We scrapped and scrambled for something like 30 minutes.  To say I was exhausted wouldn’t do it justice.  I had nothing left.  They would carry me for 5 feet and I would figure out a way to lock onto one of their legs or arms which would stop the train.  They would eventually pry my grip off and carry me for another 5 feet before I would lock on again.  It went like that for about 100 feet.

Eventually I feel myself swaying once, twice and flying through the air into the mud pit with a splash.  It is immediately followed by a bucket of mud in the face.  As I spit the mud out of my mouth and wipe it from my eyes a smile begins to appear across my face.  Ok, you guys got me…

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