A Fantastico Festival- Diwali

Diwali is truly called the festival of lights. It’s the brightest of all Indian festivals. It is celebrated with much zeal and enthusiasm in every household too. In my childhood, the most wonderful part of Diwali were crackers and sweets. We used to live in a Government Complex and according to our family tradition, Diwali was marked with the worship of Goddess Kali along with Goddess Lakshmi. But the customs were more or less the same. However, all of our relatives were invited along with other friends and we together celebrated the festival. Lighting and decorating the house was an important part and the preparation had to be begun at least one week earlier. Mom used to clean-up the house, I and my sister helped her all the way. There was a condition by mom that who would help her most, eventually was rewarded with a box of chocolates. By this trick, she managed to coax the maximum help from both of us. Quite innovative..huh! But the fun was, Papa used to gift another box to one who had done less work. Those days still bring the smile on my faces.

I was very fond of crackers but, my sister Pinky, was very much afraid of them. Till date, she loves to watch the fireworks more than actually lighting them up. All the other cousins were quite brave in this regard and used to taunt her, including me. A terrible incident happened when once I was making fun of her while lighting a ‘chakra’ cracker. Absent-mindedly, she stepped over the cracker and her left foot got badly burnt. Immediately Baba called up his friend, Dr. Dutta and poor me was taken to task for being so careless….that was a good lesson for me that we should never play with fire.

These days, diyas and candles are replaced mostly by gorgeous LED lamps.Though mom always places diyas in front of our house, the other parts have LED lamps. Nowadays, Diwali is marked with the stupendous task of supervising my little niece who has a penchant for playing with crackers. (I sometimes really think whether she has acquired this genetically from me!). But Diwali is fun still, in every way.

The festival has remained more or less the same for me even after so many years. Of course, we have changed our residence, my sister now lives in a different city and I’m no more a little child but an office-going young man. But the happiness, the feelings and the joyousness of lighting diyas and candles have remained unchanged. My mom still makes sweets, and friends are invited. But I’m calorie conscious now and only pick up a few to her much regret. My sister tries her best to join us every year and most of the times, she succeeds. That really doubles up our happiness. After all, a festival is best spent with near and dear ones. Perhaps it is the one and only festival that truly marks the triumph of light over darkness….goodness over evil. In every house of this country, no matter how rich or poor they are, candles are lighted and everybody tries to forget all sadness.

It’s truly a fantastico festival, in every respect.

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This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Image Credit: Myself

The Peppy Adventure of Fantastico Four

Disha was looking anxiously to the window. She was waiting for her friend Manisha. Actually, she was waiting for the whole gang, headed by Manisha. She is the most energetic, loveable and peppy of all her friends. She has numerous crazy ideas that make the vacations an adventurous one for all of them. Their gang has four members, Manisha, Kamla, Shaheen and she herself, Disha. They call themselves Fantastico Four! They all live in a little village in Ratnagiri.

Their village is a quaint place with beautiful greenery all around. The scenic beauty is a treat to the eyes. They all love their village, the small school where they read and the mangoes which grow here in abundance.

Mangoes are their favorite. All the four friends love to savor the delicious mangoes. They love it in any form, be it juice, chutney, pickle or just cut into slices. They even salivate on raw mangoes made delectable with salt and pepper.

It is summer vacation now and all the four friends are enjoying the holidays. With all the homework done, even the parents have no reason to grudge about their wandering through the village. But, they are wandering for the past few days with a mission.

The best mangos in the village are grown in Ahmad chacha’s orchard. He exports the mangoes and has strict security in the orchard. Nobody is allowed inside the orchard at this time of the year. Ahmad chacha is well aware of the mischievous nature of the Fantastico Four, who are always on a spree to steal those sweet, juicy mangoes. Ironically, in spite of heavy security, they have always succeeded! This time, Ahmad chacha has tightened the security even more warning the guards not to allow anyone inside.

Yesterday, Manisha said she has a plan to get hold of the mangoes and that she would be telling them about it on the next afternoon. Disha was now waiting for her friends, she was anxious to know about the plan.

A few minutes later, Manisha, Kamla, and Shaheen arrived. Excitedly, Manisha briefed the plan to all of them. Kamla didn’t look happy with the success percentage of the plan, but Manisha cheered her up. She always did that, that’s her nature, spreading energy and happiness in her unique peppy manner.

Just before sundown, the Fantastico Four gang reached the backside of the orchard. They could see the guards roaming even at the back gates. Shaheen approached one of the guards and innocently asked him the time.
– Abhi to saat baj rahe hai, beta, you must go home, aise mat ghumna
– okay, uncle, thank you!

Saying this, she returned. The guard didn’t notice that she threw something in the nearby bush while returning. He was too busy keeping an eye over the gate.

After a few minutes, he heard a baby crying from somewhere nearby. Puzzled, he looked for the source, but couldn’t find any. The cry was so helpless and eerie that he called the other guards watching over the front gates. As soon as they arrived, it stopped. The other two guards mocked him that he must have some sort of hallucination. But as they were about to return, the crying was heard again! Startled, all the three guards were now looking for the baby!

At the front gate, Manisha and Disha just crossed the wall and were busy plucking the mangoes with a long stick. They knew they had not much time. Within five minutes, with practiced skill, they gathered almost 20/25 mangoes.

-Enough, said Disha and within minutes they were again on the road, carrying the mangoes!

Getting the signal from her friends, Shaheen again was on her way to the back side of the orchard. This time, she acted as if she was running and panting.
– Uncle, have you seen my mobile? I must have slipped it while I was talking to you. Can you please dial the number? She said to the guard.

– As the guard dialled the number she said, the same baby-cry was heard. Shaheen picked up the mobile from the bush and smiled,”Shukriya, Uncle”!

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

A Fantastico Experience

I’ve travelled a lot throughout my life. So many trips have done with family and friends, have gone abroad for official purposes. But, there are very few trips which are literally unforgettable. Travelling is always a fun and in that sense, every trip means happiness. Still, there memories and incidents associated with some journey that make them very much special. The fond memories of such a trip are very close to my heart and perhaps, it would ever be.

I was in Bengaluru for about 8 months in 2012. I was totally a stranger in the city with no acquaintances, let alone friends. In fact, I was transferred on an emergency basis to serve a client based there. It was a temporary shift and the hike offered was pretty decent. So, technically, there was nothing to complain.

I’m not a workaholic but I wanted to finish the project as soon as possible and, worked for hours on weekdays, felt totally sapped out on weekends and slept. That there was no friends or nowhere to go about, didn’t bother me. My company arranged my stay in an apartment. The only person I used to talk there with was another boy who lived on the same floor, just opposite to my 1 BHK flat. He was living there alone too, the flat belonged to one of his relatives. He was known as Iyengar and was from some village.

One Saturday morning, he knocked at my door. It was only 7.30 am and I was fast asleep. I opened the door with a big question-mark written quite unmistakeably on my face. He smiled wryly and said, suddenly he got a call from his mother that his father has fallen ill and might need to be hospitalized as said by the local doctor. He had to go home and he asked me whether I could accompany him for there were a lot of things to take care of in case the hospitalization was needed. There being no one in the house except his mother, he might need some help.

I had to agree because there was no other option. We left for his village on his bike at about 9 am. He told me it would take about 5-6 hours to reach there.

There is nothing much to say about the road trip. We reached his village in a little more than five hours. The good news was his father was recovering. The things that made me overwhelmed was the treatment I got from his family and fellow villagers. They were eager to show their gratitude in every possible way. During lunch, Iyengar’s mother served home-made delicacies. She lamented that they were strict vegetarians and, so had nothing to offer as per my choice. I would never forget her kind words, it mattered a lot because Tamil Brahmins are quite conservative in this respect. I said her several times I actually enjoyed the food and she needed not to worry. She was not very proficient in English, with a limited vocabulary, she tried her best to show her love and kindness. I realized where love speaks, language can’t stand as a bar. The love I received in those two days from some unknown people would be a treasured. And all because I accompanied their son as he needed help.

The innocence, kindness and love I received from absolute strangers have made that trip one of the most memorable ones of my life. A fantastico experience of a different type, so to say.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

A Fantastico Trip With a Peppy Navigator

Friends are always a fun to be around, more so when you have some crazy, peppy friends! Any normal journey could become a fantastico adventure then! The closest circle of friends I have is a bunch of such guys. Five of us, whenever we used to meet on any occasion, we had loads of fun. This reached its crescendo when we all went onsite to the USA for six months. On weekends, we had nothing to do as such. None of us liked shopping and the list of things we all had from our families got done.

So, we decided to take a trip of the city we were staying, Los Angeles. Now, the thing is, none of us liked the concept of GPS because we didn’t want to be ordered by a mere mechanical device. We rented a car and decided to make the journey with the help of Google Maps and MapQuest. One of my friends, Avinash, took the place of the navigator. There was a risk, obviously, to drive without GPS, but we didn’t care.

So, our journey began at 8.00 am in the morning. It was a pleasant day and we were in a jovial mood. Nothing special happened as such as we visited a few places following the tourist guide. We were enjoying ourselves to the fullest.

After having our lunch at a cafe, Avinash was pondering over the road Atlas. After all, as the navigator, he had some responsibilities. Suddenly he announced that there was a beach  a few miles away and suggested that we should be there. So far he did his navigation job quite well, so none of us had any doubt of his skill. It sounded wonderful to  be at the beach in the afternoon, so we unanimously supported him.

This time, Santa, another friend, took the driving seat. I was feeling very sleepy and as soon as the wheels started to move, I dozed off.

I woke up suddenly as all four of the rest were almost shouting over something. It took me some time to get the situation. Then I understood that we were moving for almost an hour with no sign of beach anywhere. Everybody was excited and all of them started a heated argument as what to do next, which way to go.

Avinash tried to pacify us. He was still very much confident about the existence of the beach somewhere nearby. He kept on saying,“aare yaar, thoda toh sabar karo. mil jayega”, as if we were at a random search!

However, after about 45 minutes, when we had lost all hopes about the beach, he shouted excitedly,”the beach is right there, take the next exit and just half a kilometer”.

We were visibly relieved. After 10 more minutes, we reached the spot and was taken aback! It was not a sea beach, it was a market complex named “The Beach”!!

We all burst into laughter seeing Avinash’s expression. It was one of the most amusing moments of my life.

But we learnt the lesson of the lifetime. It’s always wise to use GPS when one has a navigator like Avinash!

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.