Just a girl rambling around the globe and writing about it.

Musings from around the block and farther.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Holi Hai: The Rainbow Collision

So, my friend Anjalika and her husband Anjul are not only extremely good-looking, but they are Indian by culture (though they are as American as me, just with nicer skin and hair). And this year, they threw a Holi Hai party and invited all of us "non-Indians" to join in the fun of throwing colored dust and spraying colored water at each other to celebrate the arrival of spring.

I knew something was up when she asked us all to wear white. Moms never wear white... and expect it to stay white.

My kids and I were the first to arrive (we live down the street) and Anjalika (a sprite of a woman in a bright pink sari) sprinkled orange, green, pink and blue powders on our heads and spread them on our cheeks. It was all very demure and cute... until later, when the party really got going and she was dumping rainbow powders all over everyone's heads to the raucous beats of Bollywood music.

The highlight was Anjalika's turn as dance teacher -- she recently shared with me that she had studied Indian dance for years and in college, then spent seven years in India, acting in Bollywood films and dancing. Although I never really got beyond the "screwing in lightbulbs" motion of my hands while swiveling my hips, Anjalika was mesmerizing. "Louder!" she kept shouting to the people by the CD player, and the music pulled all of us into the dervish-swirl of Indian sights, sounds and tastes. It was a magical, memorable day under the canopy of her backyard's trees.

And did I mention the food?? Samosas (potato-filled pastries) and pani puri (crisp hollow dough balls that you fill with a concoction of potatoes, spicy water and chutneys). It was decadent and delicious and spicy.
Forget Easter and Passover. I don't want to talk about suffering in the springtime anymore. I want my life to be filled with the Magical Mystery Tour of Holi!

Karma Chameleon

When my friend Anjalika threw a party to usher in springtime - the festival is called "Holi Hai" in India (Anjalika's family is from New Delhi) - well, I knew just what to wear. Aside from the clean white shirt (which gets rainbow-colored with pigment powders and squirt guns filled with colored water as the day goes on), I wore my sari.

Oh yeah, of course I have a sari.

When I was in my 20s, I became a bit of a cultural chameleon. I bought this sari in Little India (Artesia) during my Bollywood phase, when I wore bindis to nightclubs and painted my eyes with kohl. I also had an Asiaphile phase in which I wore my mandarin-colored silk pajama jacket over a t-shirt and jeans to dim sum in Chinatown. And you know about my Italy fixation, and I'm sure I'll catch some Francophilia and Barceloneliness while I'm in Europe this summer.

But, even though I had the right thing to wear, I didn't know how to put it on. Anjalika's poor mum had to fold it up and wrap me like a Mumbai burrito!

The Summer Me

I love to travel and I love Italy. Though we are not planning to go back to Italy until next summer -- for my whiz-bang 40th birthday -- I saw this article in Conde Nast Traveler about "Beaches in Italy" and my excitement is brewing.

This summer, we're taking the girls to Spain and France, no slouches when it comes to the beach-loving Mediterranean lifestyle. We'll be going from the Atlantic side to the Med side and then up to Paris - it has been planned for months and not even our crazy schedule with moving has dampened our enthusiasm. If anything, it's been good, helping to keep us occupied with "reality," so that maybe we can simply relax and enjoy our time in Europe -- we may even forgo all cultural activities (museums, must-see sites) so that we can merely hang on the beach and eat loads of ice cream and practice the art of doing nothing. It's all so good.

But back to the Summer Me. In addition to getting all my guide books and maps, I have been cutting out images of what I want to look like, seem like in my summer glory. Inspiration for the Summer Me. I'm seeing big hats, big sunglasses, tanned skin, scarves, cork wedge heels. In essence, Sophia Loren on the Italian Riviera.

So what if we're not going to Italy this summer? I may have to unleash my inner Sophia on the other parts of Europe...