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After Twenty Years I Was In India For Holi And I Wished I Was Back In The Bay

Time traveling back to the water balloon exploding streets of childhood: Every Holi I would turn into a general, training my own army in water balloon strategy. Every spring my sons and their friends would be taken to a different local Holi celebration in the Bay Area – Sunnyvale temple, Fremont temple, Asha, RANA.

Strategic use of color ensure a prolonged victory. As the day progresses only traces of color remain in the little plastic pouches in the hand. Wily teenagers “borrow” color from little ones who clutch, rather than use their color stash. While adults strategize on conquering the food line, my boys and I unroll our holi war strategy. Hapless individuals who could be gheraoed and smothered with color are targeted. Spotless entrants into the field of war are the most fun to color. Using the victim’s powder to color them is a flag signaling ultimate victory.

One year a teenage girl approached a 4-year-old lieutenant, “Can I have some color?” she asked while her friends looked on hopefully. “Sure,” said my warrior, “Here you go!” as a cloud of red green and yellow rose around her. He made me proud.

Compare this to Holi in India: deserted streets, girls cowering inside, and children on a nearby balcony with a tub full of water balloons waiting in vain for a hapless victim. Bay Area holi celebrations promise an explosive street party with blasts of music, color-intoxicated dancers, food, and laughter. Twenty years ago as we left the Holi grounds and rolled into the nearest Burger King quizzical stares from customers followed us. Now when they see green, yellow, red and blue faces framed in car windows, the other cars on the road roll down their windows and shout “Holi !!” and nod their heads excitedly..

Featured Image by Snap Yourself! Photo Booth 2015

Ritu Marwah is the features editor at India Currents magazine. Her love for Holi is matched by her enthusiasm for life.