Crazy With Color: Holi, Carnival, and Concerts

Holi, the most colorful festival in the world.  Just walking along the beach you  are sure to get bombarded with colored dye, turning you into a walking artistic masterpiece.  Or in my case, so caked in color that it all runs together and you wind up looking like one of the devil’s minions.  My skin had a very dark purple hue to it, making my eyes appear even whiter in contrast.  My once bright blonde hair is now stained a variety of pink, purple, and blue.  I’ve tried everything to get it out, even washing my hair with ketchup and soaking it in hot coconut oil for an hour, but no dice.  Who cares anyway, it just gives me an excuse to spend more time in the sun now.

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A cast of colorful characters.

(A warning to anyone who wants to celebrate Holi without the remnants of color for weeks.  Coat yourself in coconut oil before you go out.  Your skin and especially your hair.  This will allow for the dye to wash out easier.  Wearing a hat might not be a bad option.  Or maybe turn yourself into a giant condom and wear a poncho.  Actually don’t do that.)

To celebrate the main day of Holi a group of us headed to Leopard Valley for a color run party.  It also happened to coincide with St. Paddy’s Day and my dear friend Deepak’s birthday, so it was bound to be a good day.  Hundreds of people worked the dance floor, every single person adorned in various hues of green, yellow, pink, blue, orange, purple, and red.  My friend Ali and I did some mock martial arts since we looked like warriors.  Except she knows martial arts and would kick my ass in real life.

It turned out to be an incredible day and night, dancing with old friends and making new ones as Eve Carey worked the turntables.  I’m very glad that I got to witness Holi first hand and can only imagine how much larger the celebrations are in areas that are more Hindi.

Because Goa is predominantly Christian (it was a Portuguese colony for hundreds of years), they go mental for Carnival.  I was thrilled one day after asana to see a small parade of locals banging a variety of drums outside of my apartment.  I ran upstairs as fast as I could, grabbed my djembe, and joined in the festivities.  It only took a minute or two to pick up the basic beats and I joined 25 villagers in playing and dancing.  We stopped our march outside of particular houses, and the cadence changed into traditional songs sung by some of the elders in the town as we swayed to the beat.  The families all came out to listen on their porches and offered us sweets, beer, and nice whisky.  I had my first whisky and mango juice at 11:30 in the morning, succumbing to the pressure of the group who were intent on getting me buzzed.  I was teaching an AcroYoga class on the beach at 5 that afternoon so I cut myself off after a few drinks and 3 hours of parading around.

Carnival isn’t the only time that I’ve gotten to enjoy music played by the locals.  The last week in February the local school put on a concert, starring Simran and Elton, the daughter and son of the super sweet family that I live above.  Elvis and Selina (the father and mother) saved me a seat in the front row and I was taken back to my days as a munchkin, playing with the school band in front of my parents.  Simran happens to be a really good guitar player and singer, and she even performed in an ensemble using bells of different notes like those played around Christmas time.  Elvis happens to be the best little drummer I’ve heard in a very long time.  He actually the award for best drummer in his school, despite being only 10 years old.  His confidence behind the set is evident, and he was even manipulating the hi-hat like a champ, well beyond what you would expect from someone his age.  They both looked dapper in their uniforms, Simran in her dress and Elton in a white silk shirt and black bow tie.  I felt a sense of pride watching them do their thing.

I can’t thank the family enough for all of their support over the past three months.  They have put up with my incessant drumming and learning to play guitar without ever complaining.  They are always quick with a greeting and a joke when our paths cross and eager to bring me along to any community events.  And it is fantastic to have some of Selina’s home cooked food.  Sadly I only have time for one last meal with them before I leave India and Asia, but I know it will be amazing.

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