Holi-Day In A Hostel

Hottest in the hot and coldest in the cold is the place we call Rajasthan. On the north-eastern border of colorful and vibrant aapno Rajasthan, is situated a small town called Alwar, famous for 2 things-
1. Delicious Milk Cake of Baba Thakur Das and
2. Dry and sleepy Sariska Tiger Reserve Park which can be renamed now as Sariska Reserve Park because there are no tigers left.
All the ferocious tigers have been relocated to a place which is just 20 km away from the main city.

As I stepped out on a cleaner than expected platform # 1 at Alwar junction, I saw many food vendors selling Alwar’s famous milk cake. I wondered if the milk cake has also been relocated.
Stalls names were misspelled at some places, even when they are written in Hindi; still they were convincingly informing me that they were not collaborated with the famous baba thakur das in any sense.
Well, I needed a cab to go to the place where the tigers were. And that day there was a special show also because that day there was the festival of colors which we all know as Holi.

Soon I realized that I won’t be able to get a cab there and I tried my chance to get a place on a local public transport which looked like as if DNA of a small piglet has been mutated by a nuclear reaction and he has transformed into a giant swine. They call it a tempo.

I want to tell one more quality of Alwar without which describing Alwar is a crime.
In winters, Alwar becomes an invisible city. Covered with heavy fog, city looks like not even waking up till, sometimes, 11 o clock in the morning. People riding scooter can feel the tiny crystal of ice piercing deep in the face and melting beneath the skin.

Thank fully that day it was 7th march, the time of the year when the chilling winter comes to its end and the harsh sun still far away from kissing the earth.

I reached my destination which was Matsya Industrial Area. It looked more like an agricultural land. It was green and serene place, stretched in all 10 directions. There were a couple of boards saying the addresses of the factories situated there. Pepsi, Bindra Stone Crushers etc. Around 500 meters ahead, surrounded by the lush green mustard crop, I was able to see a large building. It looked like a flower mushroom grown in a grass field. That was the place where my tigers were.

Imperial Institute of Engineering and Technology. My elder brother Nikki, and 4 more tigers like him were studying there. Jitu, Chhota, Jimmy and Nana.

I was standing in front of the main gate of the hostel building and the college campus was on my right. My eyes were swinging left and right for the girl’s hostel as I was imagining fitness freak girls jogging around. Later I came to know that the girl’s hostel is inside the college campus for their extra safety. My brother took me inside the hostel and all my dreams of actually coming across a karan johar style filmi hostel started jumping out of my mind. Where are the studs going out with basket ball? Where is that pony-tail loverboy with his guitar ??
It’s 8 o clock now, it’s holi today.. still no activity.. no noise, no dhol, no fights nothing..

As I walked with my brother in the lobby, I heard some chuckles and laughters in the next room.
I knew them, they were my brother’s friends. I met them before. Jitu bhaiya was trying to unfold some paper chits and trying to pull out small balls out of them. Nana was holding a manual grinder made of stone. They had 3 big tea campers filled with thandai, a drink made up of milk, dry fruits and other flavoring stuffs. They were grinding the small balls with small amount of thandai, and mixing the entire stuff in the campers.
Those small balls were bhang, a common local drug which is extremely popular in north India during Holi.

That day Holi happened in 4 phases. In 1st phase 1st year students were called in and asked to carry those campers to the seniors in their rooms, wake them up and offer them the thandai. I was pleasantly surprised by this humble gesture of my brother and his frends to serve their frends. Within minutes the whole hostel was wide awake and started fighting for every drop of thandai.. There were smart people too who made their own smart arrangements before hand.

The other boys of the lobby, Goli, Pogo and their gang had the plan to start the holi with Dadu. A old looking bald guy whose actual name was rastogi but got this name Dadu thanks to his appearance. Dadu shamelessly refused to offer a cigarette last night to Pogo aka Portho Gonguly.. so today was the revenge day. Dadu was pulled out of his room like draupadi was pulled by Dushasana. In a blink of an eye Dadu was painted in Eastman color, in a blink of the second eye Dadu’s t-shirt was torn and before Dadu could’ve expressed his anger on local t-shirt’s cheap stiching, his jocky vest screamed and was torn down into pieces.

I was horrified by the sheer thought of level of fight which was about to start. Colorful Dadu was fuming, trying to be a lion by parting his lips and showing his multi-colored dental makeover to the crowd and watching everyone with an eye of a tiger. Colorful dadu’s eyes met with Pogo’s and the hard core enemies moved closer to each other, joined their hands, added the power and attacked Goli.

Yes, they joined together and attacked Goli who was still colorless.
Goli was shouting and accusing Pogo of betraying him but all efforts in vain and the very next second when the crowd spared him he looked like an insect coming out of an asian paint canister. Then started the massacre of color, water, torn baniyans, screams and shouts. Within half an hour all 200 boys of the hostel were half naked and not a single body was in the condition to be identified.

Phase 2 started without any formal inauguration. Some body picked the wet piece of torn t-shirt and turned it into a speedy projectile traveling parallel to the ground. And when the missile hit the naked target, there were 2 sounds. 1st was of wet cloth hitting the flesh and 2nd came straight from the vocal chords of the target. The target instantly started jumping in all directions to ease out the pain somehow. For the next 15 minutes, hostel witnessed the gruesome war between two on-the-spot formed tribal groups fighting with their future weapons; Wet clothes and wet clothes.

Phase 3 started when an opportunist dhol wala appeared outside the hostel boundary and started beating the dhol in the hope of getting some Holi bakshish. That caught the attention of the tigers and everyone ran outside to call him in. Boys called him inside the hostel compound and started dancing with the Dhol. One boy pulled the water pipe lying there in the garden, turned on the tap and held the pipe vertical like an umbrella. Gushing water from the pipe jumped high in the air and came down splashing on the tribal group dancing on bhandara beats of the dhol.

After enough dancing, phase 4 started with a simulated wedding procession. The most humble and polite boy of 1st year was made a groom and everyone else surrounded him. Following the Indian wedding tradition of groom’s friends and relatives going to the bride’s place for wedding, the procession started its march towards the girls hostel.
Lead by the dhol wala and the groom and followed by the naked tribal-looking baraatis, this procession was stopping after every 2 minutes for a dance session. People were coming in the center in round robin fashion to contribute. As the procession was leaving hostel main gate and heading towards college campus where the girls hostel was situated, the security guards got busy on their walky talkys. They conveyed the msg to the guards of the girls hostel that some 200 odd crazy-half-naked boys are coming towards the girls hostel. Please do the needful.

When we reached the girls hostel, we saw that the main gate of the hostel was locked with heavy metal chain. There were big windows in the lobby of the girls hostel where all the girls accumulated to see the Dulha. I came to know that this was the annual ritual on holi and that’s why the girls were already expecting the boys with the procession. Windows were covered with metal nets and hence reduced the visibility to a disappointing low. The only information which was coming out of those windows was that the girls also were painted black and blue from head to toe. We were not able to make out if they were also donning the tribal outfit or not.

It was 11:30 by that time and it was time to relax. All of us sat their only. Some started their efforts to get rid of the color using the taps near by.
Few started regaining their energy using stamina sticks which were carefully wrapped in polyethene to protect them from water. They used to call them cigarettes.

By 12:00, few men from boys hostel’s mess came to deliver the food in the girl’s hostel. That was the indication for us too, to wrap this up and head back for food. The rare event of getting good food on a special occasion was itself a celebration for the boys.

I am a holi lover and enjoy holi every year but I cannot forget my once in a life time experience of My Holi-Day in a Hostel.