The day we celebrated India’s epic World Cup victory, close to eleven at night on April 2nd, when India needed 7 runs from 15 balls to win, when it was evident that the Cup was ours, I heard a shout go up from a couple of floors above. “Someone else is watching the match as well,” I thought. Till then there was no sign (meaning, no animated responses) from any part of the apartment. And when MS Dhoni hit that memorable six, sealing the match and the Cup, another roar went up, followed by a few claps. Fifteen minutes later (probably after someone rushed to locate a shop to buy crackers) came about six bursts from a distance that did not even make my sleeping son turn to his side. That’s it. We were happy and we went to bed happy. Elsewhere in the heart of Bangalore, I am told, the celebrations continued throughout the night. Most cricket-unlovers would not have slept, with all the noise.
On New Years’ eve, I kept my son awake, promising him fireworks at the stroke of twelve. When our clock showed a minute to twelve, we rushed to our balcony where faraway sounds of a party were floating in. A full ten minutes later (during which I was bordering on frustration that there was not even a single colourful cracker to show my eagerly waiting son – sound must have taken ten minutes to travel one kilometre that night), I could vaguely hear the countdown to zero from the party. All of a sudden, the sky was lit with rockets and crackers of all colours – for about ten minutes. Soon the cars sped by, signalling the end of the party. Then, absolute silence. It was over, and people had gone to bed. There was no New Year celebration in our own apartment, people either looked at the TV, or watched the crackers from their windows, or went out to celebrate, or slept peacefully like any other night. New Year would come in whether we stay awake or not, whether our doors are open or not. The sole reason I sat up late this year was for my son.
Diwali, though it is meant to be noisy, is a comparatively quiet affair. We step outside with our crackers of all kinds and kids of all ages, take over the road, make noise and leave the place a mess – but it will all be over by eight or nine in the evening. There are elders and babies in the apartment and they need their sleep. Even in the apartment nearby where college students stay, the celebrations don’t go beyond ten.
Boring, old-fashioned place, is it not?
I am the last one to complain. Even as I write this, I fear things will change in my part of the world. The pace of change is frightening, and we won’t be able to stop it. But for some more time, many of us would remain so – old-fashioned.