Scaring the demons


In Delhi the tempo increased as the third night of Diwali -the Indian festival of light - approached. There was excitement in the air and a buzz of expectation. Children washed and dressed in their new clothes without protest for today was 'firework night' Tonight the moon would be completely waned and in the total darkness demons would be sent packing as fire crackers and other gun powder devices made sleep impossible.

We had booked an extra night in the city so that we should not miss the celebrations as our own son-now past his own childhood and a successful photographer -was just as excited!

We spent a hectic day with what seemed like the whole of the city celebrating en mass. We went back to the hotel to re-charge before the big event but when we hit the street for a celebratory meal we found everything had gone very quiet and the teeming roads had emptied. Everyone had gone
home to celebrate with their families and we were alone! A solitary tut tut driver came to our aid and in vain he tried to find us a restaurant which was still open. We sped round narrow alley ways on two wheels as he called on everyone he knew to lend a helping hand and finally he found what must have been the only eating house open in Delhi and with others we enjoyed a typical south Indian meal.

When we had finished we found our tut tut driver had waited for us. By now he had become our friend and Ali was intent on cheering us up. 'Do you like Indian music?' he asked. 'Yes' we replied so he jumped from his Diwali decorated tut tut and turned on his radio, which was akin to the size of a bathtub and strapped to the back of his 'transport' and with it blaring out we drove down the centre of the road as he swung and danced as best as he could while still keeping the vehicle on the road. The music we knew for it had featured in a TV car ad so we were able to make a lusty contribution! Built to sway and dart through teeming traffic the tut tut seemed unperturbed as we swayed to the pounding beat. He had no other traffic to contend with! Every where was deserted. His infectious laughter and humour lifted our spirits as we joined in at the top of our voices but we knew that it was not enough on its own to send the smallest of demons packing.

By the time we arrived back at the hotel we were surprised to find that the deserted city was stirring back into life and soon fireworks began to rumble around us. In no time at all it sounded as though we were in a war zone with ammunition dumps exploding every where. No longer were families celebrating in their homes. The whole of Delhi spilled out onto the roads and alleyways.

'Happy Diwali' greeted us every where and when we found a stall still selling fireworks we gave the local children extra supplies and became their best friends. The Catherine wheels were fitted with spinning tops and as they whizzed and whirled at high speed over the uneven ground even the tiny tots jumped in and out of the showers of crackling white and silver stars. We were given metre long sparklers, so heavy with magnesium that they needed a strong arm to lift them aloft. We were tasked with lighting many of the exploding devices; even the giant firecracker which had been unrolled down the entire length of the street and with great excitement was proclaimed one of the longest in Delhi! Its deafening explosions seemed everlasting and in the smoke filled swirling darkness even the bravest demon must have felt threatened.

Diwali had not been a damp squid after all.

J Myers

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