on Roundabouts in Delhi (India), 27/Oct/2011 14:18, 34 days ago
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A cycle rickshaw narrowly misses a collision with aRoman candleDiwali.Definitely my favourite Indian festival yet. The biggest festival in the Indiancalendar, there is the same kind of hype and excitement over Diwali as there isover Christmas at home. Long strips of coloured lights are hung from rooftopsand balconies, the shops are piled to the rafters with Indian sweets andtemporary markets are erected selling candles of every colour, shape and size,decorations, nuts and dried fruits and…kitchen equipment. I never quite workedout the reason for the kitchen equipment, perhaps it’s just the most populargift du jour or maybe families want to impress visiting relatives with their new set of matching plates, kettle and toaster.Diwali isthe festival of light, which in India means fireworks, which in India alsomeans earth shatteringly loud, hold onto your newly bought kitchen equipment, teethrattling explosions. They started about a week ago and steadily built to acrescendo last night, Diwali night. It reminded me of bonfire night at homeonly a thousand times more chaotic, the whole sky erupting with showers ofpink, green, blue, white and purple interspersed with atom bomb styleexplosions and what sounds like rounds of artillery fire going off but isactually lines of firecrackers being lit in the street, usually casually throwninto the path of an unsuspecting motorcyclist or passer-by. I love fireworksbut at points even I got a bit nervous, particularly when my neighbours on therooftop behind me seemed to have eschewed the idea that fireworks should pointupwards and lit them so that showers of blue sparks were arching over and onto thetop of my terrace. My favourite moment was watching the family next door usingthe busy road as their firework launch pad. The father of the familymethodically and with great ceremony went back and forth with a lit torch, fromthe house into the middle of road, to light what seemed to be an interminablesupply of fireworks. Roman candles and rockets went shooting up into the air asmopeds, cycle rickshaws and pedestrians swerved just in time to avoid them andthe family looked on from the side-lines.