There is a tendency for expat communities to be more into the culture of their home country than the residents of their home country. Everyone knows this. Well, not everyone but…
I still think it’s a bit bizarre that I played Holi for the first time in a foreign country. I know, I know… which planet have I been living on. Or rather, which ethnocentric ghetto.
To explain, I grew up in a very Christian community and for some reason all the fascist mums had deemed it unholy (hee) to play holi with colour. Unholy in the loosest sense of the word because basically I think they didn’t want to be left to do the scrubbing of variously hued clothes and pink ears. So we’d only play with water – which I have to say was a lot of fun – and because I was a chronically sick child, I only got to do this once in a while.
So I was a bit tentative about agreeing to this Holi plan mainly because:
a) It’s a little embarassing to be gambolling about in coloured clothes with a lot of Chinese people looking on. (which in principle I am not against, only in practice, because I’m a wimp about this make-an-exhibition stuff)
b) It would became quickly evident that this was my first Holi and I would be subject to the exchange of glances and alienation oft-experienced at the inability to speak Hindi or understand Bollywood references from the 50s.
The day dawned cloudy and rainy and when our friend called to say that our venue had fallen through I was sure I had my way out. But unfortunately, they decided on another venue and wanted to go through with it.
I grumbled all the way to beach, only marginally cheered up when I realised everyone hadn’t arrived yet and that the beach, as always, was beautiful and tempting me to get into the water although it was freezing cold.
Anyway, the whole thing turned out to be pretty peaceful. Playing Holi with colour involves just putting colour on people and not even getting wet. It was all over in ten minutes and actually, because the colours were organic, they even smelled nice and were guaranteed to wash off.
Then we proceeded to play games of the kind that I had last played in school like kabadi and kho kho. Was actually a lot of fun – followed up by a noisy lunch in which the Indian gang proved why flight attendants find Indian fliers so irritating. But anyway, I managed to do a new thing, be social and actually have fun which is what’s important.