The drums rattled from the front entrance, “Boom, baboom, boom”. It piqued our interest. We finished getting ready and rushed down the stairs, where we were greeted by one of the hotel staff.“Namaste”, he said as he placed the first dash of soft red powder between each of our eyes. At this point, we had no idea of what the day had in store for us and we continued walking towards the drum beat and the hotel lobby.
More staff greeted us at the front entrance, as each of them gently smeared handfuls of the coloured powder onto each of our faces and arms. Some greens, some yellows, some fuschia, some purple, all mixing into a vibrant melange proudly displayed for all to see.
The dancing had begun to a wicked Indian beat. The young Indian drummer hit one side of the drum to a 1:4 beat while the other side, he hit to a 1:8 beat, as his accompanist hit an aluminum pie plate and danced around with the other tourists, all covered in the colours. As each new arrival stumbled into the dance party, they were initiated with more colours. Bags and bags of colours floated throughout the crowd.
The youngest member of the dance troop was maybe 9 or 10 and had a beautiful smile as he asked each of us to dance and swung his hips and belly to the beat, eventually relieving the drummer and pouncing on his own beat with a vengeance, beads of sweat dripping onto his Happy Holy tie-dyed t-shirt.
A few feet away, a blonde tourist was jumping into an open jeep and asked us to come along. The driver was an Indian man, a travel agent as we found out later, and he would act as our tour guide for at least this morning. We jumped in the jeep and set off for our adventure.
A few blocks down the street, we saw our two friends from France walking and told them to jump in as well, and they did. We continued into the heart of the city, letting out yelps and whistles as we encountered the entire city in colours – including the cows and dogs on the street. Horns, drums, parties were all around us, and as we stopped at each corner, strangers touched our faces again, adding new colours to the mix, laughing and wanted to touch all of our skin – most of which was not that white anymore.
Our driver took us to many aunt’s and uncle’s houses and at each house we were treated like royalty, enjoying Chai and some of the most outstanding sweets. Finally, we stopped at a beautiful havali (old stone house), where the vodka (mandarin), beer and poppadums came out and we laughed and coloured each other some more.
The last house on the journey was the driver’s house, and this was the place where the water balloons and super-soakers came out, drenching all of us fast and furiously. We ran in various directions, trying to avoid the water, but it was to no avail; chaos had erupted. We grabbed our cameras and phones from the safe place, and took off looking for a Took-Took to get us home. All good fun ’til someone loses an eye! 😉
We made it back to our rooms and are now hiding out, still colour-stained despite multiple showers. We were invited to our driver’s house for dinner, but are thinking that there will be more colours there and we have had a rough day! Vodka at 11 takes a toll on one’s energy levels! 😉