The HOLI man

photoI was travelling on the MRT train in Singapore, and out of the blue, jumped in a multicoloured man. I could tell he had blonde hair and I’m guessing he was born with a white skin. I say guessing because his face was brilliantly splashed with the colours of the rainbow- red, purple, green, blue…….His clothes which looked like what must have been white kurta- pyjama were dyed in a similar hue. He had obviously been to a Holi celebration and here he was uninhibitedly jumping into a fairly crowded train where he stood out- strikingly beautiful. I am surprised that I was the only one staring at him. With pride and with respect. The last time I played Holi was decades ago and here was a Westerner in a foreign country[ not India or his own land] celebrating our Indian festival. I had a feeling of deja vu.

Many years ago, in London, I was patiently, almost patronisingly spelling out an Indian recipe to a Welsh friend. I started explaining to him what garam masala was and suddenly he declared he usually makes his own garam masala at home in his grinder. To say I was left speechless, is an understatement.

On another recent occasion, I joined a yoga class in Singapore. When I went for my first class, barring the teacher and one student who was Sri Lankan, everyone else was non-Indian. To my surprise, the yoga students were breathing enthusiastically during Pranayama and effortlessly twisting and contorting themselves into various yoga poses like Sarvanga Asana. Here I was, from the land of yoga struggling against my rigid creaky joints and willing myself into a dignified Padmasana.

Again recently, my Aussie friend in Singapore was telling me of a place she regularly frequents where they serve lip smacking Indian food on banana leaves. I still haven’t been to the place but I’m still in shock that it was her who told me about this place. Just made me realise that we Indians do sometimes forget our culture and traditions and it takes a foreigner to remind us of what we gave to the world.

Happy HOLIday!

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