Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Holi Hai!

Happy Holi Everyone!!

There are two reasons for me to write this post.
1. I just checked my inbox and saw an e-mail from Gaurav saying how much he missed the Holi party last year, and
2. Well, since I was reminded of the Holi party, I thought of Mehul and Anshul who had requested me to write a narrative about the party after I uploaded the pictures on Orkut!

So even though belated, this one is for you guys! ('Coz I totally had another topic in mind to write about but I'll do that later!) Those who were there that day, enjoy and relive those glorious moments of fun; and those who weren't there, well here's your chance to get a first hand account of what happened that day!

Click on the images to see the full-sized version (the small icons don't do justice to the pictures; especially the one where Poonam is picking up two fistful of colours and getting ready to attack someone!!)

After last year, this year's Holi seemed very dry (given that it is the festival of colours and people use as much water as they can to make it more enjoyable) talk about irony! After standard 9, I haven't been all that enthusiastic about playing Holi, even though the next year, Holi was after my standard 10 Board Exams were over! People told me, "Good that your exams are over. Now you can enjoy Holi without any tension at the back of your mind!"

Most of them were surprised when I didn't turn up! Why?? Okay, it may be the silliest answer that you'd ever expect to hear, but that's the truth - 'coz it's messy! While it is fun when you're at it, after a point it starts to get to you. That is when the colours drying up on your skin begin to itch (especially now that there are so many horrendous types of oil-paints and permanent colours developed that don't even get off that easily and you remain pink or green or blue for a few days even after the festival!), when you're feeling cold in the wet clothes, when your hair becomes a mess (no one messes with my hair!!!) and your scalp gets coloured!!! I'd rather stay away; clean and dry and watch the fun from a distance.

But things changed last year. There was to be a party in office and guess what? I was on the organising committee. Now that's the kind of work I like to do even if I'm not getting paid for it (I'd rather that I get paid, but when you're with the Big 4, you're thankful for these small mercies!) And it was the kind of fun I'd not yet experienced in my entire life!

Booking the place, making it clean enough for everyone, decorating it, making arrangements for food and other necessities like soaps and shampoos that would be required later, music, buying and arranging the gulal, the pichkaaris, etc. thrilled me. And of course, along with this, I made very good friends (and got closer to people I already knew)... the other members in the organising committee; Lakshmi, Meetu, Anshul and Abhishek. I was so glad to be doing what I was doing that I asked Maulik (one of my seniors) if I could do my Articleship with the Admin Department instead of Audit. We both laughed it off (and I'm thankful that the comment was well taken!)

We started off by checking the place out (the others had done that by the time I was back from Hyderabad... Can you imagine being specially pulled out of an Audit assignment to organise a party?? Boy! Those days were good!) and figuring out what would go where. The place was called Yeoor Jungle Camp (somewhere near Thane) and was atop a hill and it was quiet and green all around. All in all, a nice place to have a private party where the only intruders possible were from the jungle nearby. But we were told that it would happen only if the noise levels were too high. So even though we had music, we couldn't keep it too loud for the fear of dancing with cheetahs and tigers!!

The place was pretty decent (though the price we paid for it was too much!) Once you reached the top of the hill it was pretty difficult to find your way to the venue. You would think that it would have been easy, 'coz hey, you reach the top of a hill and there it is! But it wasn't that way. There was an entire civilisation living up there and you had to go deeper to find the place. We decided that people aren't going to be able to find their way easily and so we decided to make sign boards so that everyone will know when to take a turn!

Once you reached there, it was a kuccha road and you entered straight into the dining hall of the place. To its right was the guest house (which we used for keeping everyone's stuff) and further ahead were a small park and a huge room (which we used as a work-station.) Straight ahead of the dining room was the dance floor with the big shower in between and a swimming pool beyond it.

We explored the entire location, "Wow"ing at some things and not so much at others, coming up with awesome ideas and equally stupid and silly ones, laughing a lot and having a great time. The best part, the time we spent planning the party was chargeable!! Not to client codes, but admin codes! So you're not "working" but you're not on leave either! God Bless the Managers for this!! ;-)

We made a list of all the things that we'd need: colours (10 kgs!!), pichkaaris, inflatable toys for kids to play with in the pool, other items for decoration, paper plates, tissue papers, soaps, shampoos, card-board sheets (for the sign banners), spray paints, about a hundred of 300ml bottles of Pepsi, Fanta, Coca-cola, etc., water bottles, lots and lots of beer, return gifts for the children who'd come to the party, arrangements for catering, music for the party, Bhaang and oh my God, so many more things that I don't remember as of now!
So as soon as the list was made we set out to shop getting maximum of our major requirements that day. After we came back from shopping we put all the things to store (and refrigerate) and decided to go home since we knew the next day would be a long one!

The first half of the second day we shopped again for the things that we couldn't find the previous day. The hardest part was shopping for spray paints as we had to search the entire market to find them and they were required. Imagine having to paint twelve or so huge sign boards when the job can be done in less than half the time with just a spray.

Once we were done with the shopping, we came back up and started working on the sign boards (while singing the Marathi version of Sha la la by Vengaboys making it, 'Maazha Mulga gela shalalalala'... ha ha that was fun!!), which took a lot of time mostly because we weren't accustomed to using spray paints. It took us a while to spray it on correctly so that the signboards actually made sense :-p and our hands pained badly the next day (since the muscles of our forearms were strained from pressing the spray cans!)

After that we opened all the boxes of colours and carefully emptied the packets into huge bowls (for easy access the next day!) There was so much going on that we forgot lunch! We had a really late lunch because Pizza Hut didn't deliver up the hill and someone had to go all the way and pick the Pizzas up. We made decorative banners to hang in other places as well and when it started to get dark we decided to wind up because it wasn't safe in the jungle.

So we put everything back in order and set off. When we just reached the foot of the hill, disaster called, in the form of the caterer saying he couldn't make it the next day because of some miscommunication in the number of people expected for the party!! We were shocked! Finding a new caterer one night before the event, especially for a festival was next to impossible. Mr. Tom Cruise (under the guise of Anshul) rose to the occasion and said that he'd do something about it. He made calls and asked people if they could help us out. And sure enough half an hour before mid-night, we had a caterer.

I was staying back at Lakshmi's place (who lived in Thane) since coming all the way back to Navi Mumbai just to go back alone early in the morning on the day of Holi, didn't make sense. We slept of early and were at Yeoor Jungle camp by 7.30 AM the next morning!

We were all excited and put everything in order. Put the banners up, got the colours out and arranged them on the platform, got the beers, soft-drinks and water out of the fridge, made sure that breakfast was ready for everyone and then we were patiently waiting for everyone to arrive.

Slowly people arrived. We had a special arrangement for their Swaagat! We had one white cardboard sheet placed at the entrance. Next to it was a plate with some dry gulaal and others where we had made the colours in the form of a paste. As soon as people arrived, we welcomed them by smearing gulaal over their cheeks and asking them to dip one of their palms in any one colour and leave an impression on the cardboard sheet. (God knows what happened to that cardboard. We were supposed to hang it in the cafeteria on the 6th floor as a souvenir.)

Breakfast went off well and people started to enjoy. First it was the traditional gulal and then the mischief started. Emptying beer bottles on one another's heads, breaking eggs (sounds better than hatching them!!), and someone even brought those horrifying permanent colours, dancing under the shower, the kiddos playing in the pool with their mommies keeping a watch on them, one of the partners being thrown into the coloured water of the pool, Gaurav breaking an egg on Ravi's head (who was then a Senior Manager and is now a partner... thanks for reminding me of that in your e-mail Gaurav!! Just had to post that here! :-p)

And other people doing the same on some others (i.e., breaking eggs and emptying beer bottles) and then shampooing their heads with the sachets that we got (see! Planning works... though not in the way anticipated!) having lunch and the most fun Holi ever.

I stayed away from the colours as much as possible. But being at a Holi party and saying I will not play, doesn't work AT ALL. When everyone else's playing and you make excuses, you think anyone's going to listen to you??? Good luck trying to do that!! Anyway, I was dragged in (can't say no when the Partner himself asks you to play and even more so when saying that your skin is sensitive and may react to the colours doesn't do any good!) and colours were smeared all over my face, my hands and my hair (yikes!! my hair!!)

Thankfully, there was the huge shower (for rain dancing) which served as my cleaning agent! Every time someone came to me with colours, I respectfully allowed them to apply it gently on my face (specifically mentioning not to use such force that the colour finds its way into my eyes, nose and mouth) and then stood under the huge shower and let it all wash away! So unlike everyone else who couldn't be recognised, I was exceptionally clean every few minutes! This obviously caught the attention of some people who came to me once again with colours. I told them that my skin was sensitive and that was the reason I was washing the colours off. I also added that it didn't make sense wasting their colours on someone who would wash it the instant it was applied! So they understood and didn't bother me (much!) again and I was happy to be shuttling between doing the two things that I'm really good at: Music (that is by being the DJ for the function!) and Talking! (interacting with the people I was familiar with!)

Others were merrily enojying themseleves under the influence of bhaang and/ or beer (wow! don't know if anyone had both! What would've happened to them?) So much that Abhishek on his way back home in the bus was playing a game with Poonam with their respective Real Juice tetra-packs (only he must've understood the game though!!) and after going home slept for eighteen hours!! Now that's something only Bhaang can do!

Poonam on the other hand was becoming an expert and surprising people with fistful of colours and throwing them in their face! Everyone was trying to keep an eye out for her or else they might have colours in their eyes!! It was a lot of fun watching her do that (even to the Partner!!)

The others had a really good time too (or at least that's what they said! For those who lied... "Liar Liar, Pants on fire!!") Don't think that I would enjoy any other Holi as much as I enjoyed this one. This is one of those few experiences that I will remember forever. And now that I have it written down here, it'll ensure that the others who were present there will never forget it too.

Happy Holi!

- Azaad!!


  1. Im honoured to be mentioned in the proceedings of an EY party even 2 yrs after I was out of Mumbai office..
    This is a very well compiled story.. i enjoyed every bit of it.. esp the line which said breaking eggs on heads is a better term than hatching eggs.. lolz.. and u can trust abhishek to get high with bhaang n sleep for 18 hrs.. suits his nature well..
    n u were right the thumbnails dont do justice to the snaps.. thats why i clicked on the snap in which poonam is picking up hands full of color to attack ppl..
    mukesh getting a shampoo done, swati having a beer bath.. tom cruise in the guise of anshul.. haha.. i pretty much feel a part of the party..

  2. hey babes !! This is awesome.. I actually relived the moment.. Its been a year and the colours are yet dark... How much i miss those days niks !! I hope they come back soon again....


  3. Thank you Mehul and Poonam for the lovely comments. After posting the narrative I realised that I missed out on quite a few things!! Anyway, good to know that you guys enjoyed/ relived it!

    Am waiting to hear from the rest of the office gang. Don't know if anyone has read it (are there many deadlines to meet in March??? Can't imagine what April would be like with majority of the workforce on study leave... ha ha..) And also, have to send the link to Meetu and Lakshmi!! Will do that as well..

    Till then,

  4. Hey Niks... thanks for the making me live those memorable moments again... hoping to hav something of same kind again... keep up the good work.. love u loads