How to festival
Stepping out? I would say don’t, but if you must here’s a ready reckoner
The one thing I will never hold against this virus is that I now need to provide absolutely no excuse (more than the truth) for not being social or missing important appointments, from the mentally-haranguing familial to even the dental. Gone are the days when I had to suck it up and turn up for nuptial nuisances between annoying folks who certainly deserved each other, or sit through a boring soirée where people discussed their kids, vacations, the new series they binged, and global hunger, all with equal detached fervour.
Now, with the festive season around the corner, it gives me great joy to report that I will be participating in none of the shenanigans, from trussing up in traditional garb to singing group songs of mythologically better times, all in defiance of tonality or any sense of harmony. Festivals can wait, we have a pandemic on our hands. Thank you, you monstrous little virus, for this coup de grace.
But, that said, the mentally weaker types will still feel the urge to lean on the crutch of celebrations, as if either the immune system gets stronger around diyas and laddoos or maybe they distract the virus long enough to grant one immunity. Here then are a few pointers for the festival-ly inclined on how to engage in the festive spirit without posing a risk to others, or yourself, no matter how dispensable your behaviour deems you according to Darwin.
Spirits: Make sure you have that around. If you want people to step out of their homes and come to you, there better be Champagne involved. Don’t ask them over for anything that Swiggy can easily deliver. Make the trip worth their while, ply with alcohol and only the top shelf kind. Only two folks are making money in India at the moment, the elder Ambani and the local bootlegger.
Food: Again, it has to be stuff that can’t be Zomato-ed. Food that is worthy of a ’gram post. Food that comes in courses and involves at least two species being lightened of their earthly load to prepare the entrées. Kings didn’t come back from historic wars to feed on celery soup. Save the vegan talk for another century and serve up stuff that makes the journey to hell all that more worthwhile after.
Sweets: This year I have seen a lot of ‘fusion’ Indian sweets. Fellas who fashion themselves chefs, leave the sweetmeats alone. The halwai isn’t just an image, it is a finely-honed profession with much skill, one that most ‘young chefs’ today are incapable of comprehending, churning out chocolate-stuffed laddoos and Nutella burfees. Stop! You are ruining two things simultaneously. So, for once, don’t think about food like a fashion statement and stop fixing what ain’t broken. Remember the goal is to entice people to step out.
Clothes: As said above, there are few things worse than being dressed up like a bride or a groom without a wedding to go to. But somehow festivals seem to bring out the broody in most of us. (This year, I wonder if it will bring me out of my trackiess and stained sweatshirts.) But let’s not forget that all original Indian garb was loungewear — kurtas, dhotis, saris. Each garment was uncut, and all allowed for us to eat and expand without any external signs of such. Western brands have got nothing on Indian loungewear, which also ticks the traditional box. So, go local. (I can’t believe I am agreeing with our Prime Minister for a change.) But for the entrepreneurial vermin amongst us, please don’t tarry in making festive masks. For me, paint me a big wide grin so that, in the unfortunate circumstance that I acquiesce to an invite and have to step out, I am spared having to make that one little effort of looking amused.
This column is for anyone who gives an existential toss.