As I sit down to write this, on Diwali night, the lights are twinkling all over our neighbourhood, Delhi’s streets and skies are erupting with fireworks that will build to an all-nighter of explosions. The local children are shrieking, stray dogs are howling and our own pups Spike and Mishti will be gibbering wrecks till morning. It’s going to be a long and noisy night but we’ll sit on the terrace and marvel nonetheless.
I think Diwali maybe one of my favourite celebrations.
With Diwali I get all the fun of Christmas but without (for me, at least) weeks of cooking and present-buying. The past few days I’ve wandered around the Diwali displays in Khan and INA Markets, picked up beautiful candles to tuck away for Christmas, bought boxes of sweets and generally gawped at the wonderful colours, bustle and excitement without having to worry about hordes of family and friends descending and needing to be fed. The perfect vicarious celebration.
I even managed two impromptu trips into Old Delhi this week. The first was when Dean and I were overcome by cravings for Ashok and Ashok’s mutton korma and made a quick lunchtime dash. I’d never seen Old Delhi at Diwali time and it was stunning, the markets overflowing with decorations, idols, marigolds and festive food.
Then last night, on the eve of Diwali, we went back with a few friends to soak up the ‘festival of lights’ Old City-style and grab a few snacks. We weren’t diasppointed. We stopped for fried potatoes and aloo tikki, chicken korma, jalebis, kebabs and shahi tukra.
As we made our way through the carnival atmosphere of Sitaram Bazaar and Kinari Bazaar, marvelling at the inricate sugar sculptures, and giant barrels of roller ice cream, our American friend Halle was beaming and shouting “I love this country”. Me too. Happy Diwali!