Wednesday, November 10, 2004

musings on the eve of divali

Yes, with the cost of everything sky rocketing it is worthwhile to ponder whether it is really necessary to squander away hundreds of rupees just to prove our one-upmanship? Divali, like any other Indian festival, expects people to do something for a change – a change of clothes, a change of residence, a change of taste. We love to quote the scriptures, draw parallels from our holy books and justify the extravaganza that we plan. Of course, the ones who want to dispose off their inventories try to win over our hearts and purses by offering items at ‘rock bottom prices’ – but, the hidden catch is revealed only after the damage is done!! Innovativeness rules the day – you may have observed that to light up our houses, we now buy garlands of tiny colored bulbs that twinkle at the press of a button. These are made in China and sell like hot cakes. No guarantee, the shopkeepers warn – but, who cares? They come dirt cheap. One can get three sets for the price of one set of the Indigenous version.
One more item on the MUST list is clothes – fashions are dictated by trends one observes on the TVs. Gone are the days of Doordarshan when clothes appropriate to the occasion would be shown on the small screen – today, whatever be the occasion depicted, the heroines always look gorgeous, dressed up in all its fineries, weighed down by loads of ornaments, showing off their figures with the help of tight fitting clothes with jazzy colors. She could be a doctor in a hospital or a school teacher or a shy student, it was immaterial. What was important was the designer who designed the dress and the number of orders he was likely to get. Today’s world is selfish – it cares only for itself.
Next on the list is the best method to tickle your taste buds.
Right from dry fruits in attractive packaging to boxes of assorted sweets you can order off the shelf – the choice is yours. Most of the sweets are made such that they can be stored for a few days. Home made preparations are practically non existant – for those who relish such stuff, selected outlets do exist where these can be had at a premium. Women of today have little or no time to devote so much time in the kitchen – this is the day of ready made goods. The popularity of packaged foodstuffs is on the rise – in order to hard-sell these products, we invariably bring in the ‘mother’ syndrome – like the ads we see on TV pertaining to spices. This phenomenon is not restricted to only Kolkata or Mumbai – it is all over the country. When in Kolkata, I have seen it during the Bijoya celebrations – the various sweets that our Mothers and grandmothers used to prepare are available in shops at a price. Now, in Nasik, I find similar situations during Divali. Whilst a majority of shops lay out their offerings in brightly lit counters, there are some shops tucked away in some remote corner of the city where you can get the traditional fares – at a premium.
Hats off to such of those who bring back fond memories.