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The (Other) Festival of Lights

27 October 2008
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This morning, after a recent string of late-night farewell frivolity, the sound of explosions woke me at an uncomfortably early hour. Explosions. Right under my window.

Happy Diwali/Deepavali, everyone. The holiday where people set off loud firecrackers at 5:30 a.m., even though they are firecrackers and therefore much prettier at night. In the dark. For goodness’ sake.

Last night, as we rode home in the auto after dinner at a friend’s house, I remarked on how foggy it was. I’ve never seen fog in Chennai. S. stated, “It’s not fog; it’s smoke.” A city of eight million people with who knows how many firecrackers – no wonder I’m coughing this morning.

The past three days have been filled with the sound of mini explosions and imitated gunfire. I imagine it is what the West Bank can sound like, but obviously much more innocuous. I am not making light of the violence there, just trying to give you all a mental picture. And, since India has suffered some recent violence itself, I do find the continual bangs, whizzes, and rat-a-tat-tats a tad unsettling.

Tonight, however, after a full day of trying to pull myself together since I leave in two days, I will join my friends here on a rooftop and stand back while they set off the fireworks. I love fireworks, but, with less than 48 hours to go here, I’m not going to take any chances – I’d like to return home with my nose, both my eyes, and all my fingers.

I tried to ask my non-Hindu friend yesterday if there were any official Diwali songs. She did not know. So instead, please enjoy this unofficial Diwali anthem from The Office:

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