Thus it all began .....
.... about a month and a half back, with pictures that started surfacing just about everywhere. Colourful and bright, with little creative snippets of desi Hindi that promised fun, these pictures caught the eye. They did exactly what they were meant to, I guess. They set the ball rolling as far as the Laguna Indians’ Diwali Party was concerned.
These colourful tickets made their appearance on just about every form of social media – Facebook and Whatsapp being the most notorious ones and it did create the ripple of anticipation and excitement that the organizers were aiming at. For people wanting to attend “the most happening party in town”, the appearance of these posters was akin to planting seeds in a garden and watching out for those little seedling heads to make their way out of the soil, seeking the sun. Excitement knows no bounds when the seedlings appear, little tiny indicators that promise good times ahead. The sure and steady appearance of the multi coloured tickets left its mark. The anticipation started to build, curiosity was tickled and the resultant eagerness and excitement were carefully nurtured with further well timed ticket releases.
That evening of the 11th of October, 2014 saw the residents of Laguna City at their resplendent best. There seemed to be colours everywhere. It was a sight to behold, as all the eye could see were the vibrant hues that the Indian community in Laguna City were sporting. Ranging from effervescent greens to pulsating reds to energetic oranges to lively yellows, the outfits were vivacious, bright and brilliant. Complementing and balancing the intensity of the bright colours were guests with outfits in pastel shades of mauve, baby pink, the creams – soft, subdued, yet shimmering.
People were streaming out of the many different blocks in Laguna City, their dazzling presence and glow that evening, literally illuminating the lobbies and paths. That evening, Laguna City seemed bright and radiant – immensely highlighting the two very aspects that form the core essence of Diwali. The place was pulsating, it was alive enough for necks to turn, for people to stop in their tracks and gape.
The stage was set !
The party venue,Tamarind, marked a striking contrast to the rest of Wanchai that night. While the outer perimeters of Wanchai appeared lethargic, sluggish and somnolent, this place stood out pretty much like a lighthouse in the midst of a heavy storm. It was alive and buzzing. The evening gathered speed slowly but steadily. With more and more dazzling guests streaming in, the “sparkle” enlivened and as the guests started to get into the spirit of things, the vivaciousness and enthusiasm levels registered a surge too.
The photographers were around, pretty much ready to snap moments in bytes of memory, for posterity. Had it not been for the little captured bytes, many of those moments would have been impossible to reproduce.
It was just about to get even more “awwwwwww” inspiring. That evening being Karwa Chauth, there were plenty of ladies who had been fasting all day. The moon co-operated too, appearing nice and radiant, for the said ladies to complete their prayers and break their fast. I’ve watched the Karwa Chauth proceedings in many a movie over the years but watching it in person did have a strong “brings about a catch in the throat” element to it.
The kids, in the meanwhile, were having a nice time in an alcove all to themselves. There was an Overhead Projector, there were movies, games for them to indulge in and most importantly, no nagging parents around. Now, give me one kid who would not be thrilled to bits with that combination in hand. Oh and a steady stream of food and drinks to keep those hunger pangs far far away. The kids were busy having a party of their own ;-).
Morsels of lovely appetisers were all over the place. I mean to say there were waiters walking around, with trays of palate tickling appetisers (clarifying, just in case someone gets the impression that they were strewn all over the place). People were walking around meeting friends, making new ones. We met up with a friend that evening, after almost 19 years and it was such a lovely feeling. There were handshakes and hugs all around, pappis and jhappis flying everywhere. All in all, the whole community was like one big, happy family.
Just in the midst of all the buzz and excitement, Prakash got hold of a mike and started exhorting people to gather around. Now, Prakash proved to be a force to contend with, as the Master of Ceremonies, with a mike in hand. I’m sure he is a force to contend with without a mike as well but with a mike, he kind of turns into a good Loki with the added powers of the Tesseract. Good Loki, people I stress on the word “Good” !!! :-D. What started off with Prakash exhorting people to gather around for Bingo soon turned into playful dhamkis being issued. He was the quintessential life of the party :-).
“Arrey, sab log yahan aa jaaao Tambola ke liye varna ….”. He used to leave the dhamkis unfinished, just to leave the audience wondering. The power of imagination is a very potent one so he used to leave people to imagine “agar nahin gaye to kya karega Prakash” :-D. Finally, he managed to accomplish the impossible – got everybody from the nook next door and guests from the deck to gather in the main function room and that was when it happened. Everything went dark. People didn’t know if they were eating from their own plates or someone elses ;-) !
Did the fuse blow ? Why had the lights gone out ?. Was something wrong ?
Suddenly, in unison, many voices rang out from all corners of the function room. It was the famous bhajan from the movie Parinay.... “Jaise Suraj Ki Garmi sey Jalte Hue Tan Ko Mil Jaye”.
Just as people were drawn to the powerful notes of the song, the collective rendition of the same created a surreal effect in that confined space. Goose bumps, people, goose bumps !! As multiple pairs of eyes strained and squinted to locate the source of the beautiful melody, a few small blue lights came on – all spread out in many different places inside the function room. They were on the stoles around the necks of the gentlemen singing this song. It was indeed whimsical, original and imaginative. Whoever thought of this needs to be commended heartily as this pretty much turned out to be one of the awesome highlights of the entire evening.
Pssstttt !!! Apparently, the gentlemen are absolutely thrilled at having pulled off the song and as such, are planning a dance too, at the next Diwali party. So all ye people of Laguna City, do watch out for that one ;-D.
Once the shor dhamaka of the bingo / tambola died down, the winners were announced. People made Prakash repeat numbers time and again by marking out numbers which had not been called out. All this I guess because Prakash started off saying “I will call out the numbers only once” :-D. Tsk tsk tsk. Dhamkiyon ka natija kuch theek nahin nikla !!! For the next party, Prakash needs to brush up on the dhamkis !!
Whilst dinner was on, some more raffle prizes were announced as also the prizes for Best Dressed Male and Best Dressed Female. The prize for the best dressed male went to Senthil Kumar, who had chosen to wear the traditional pattu veshti (white silk lungi), shirt (you all know what that is) and a crisply ironed angavastram (a stole of sorts worn by men in the South of India) over his shoulder. The prize for the best dressed lady went to Poonam Gangwani who was dressed in a beautifully sequined pink outfit.
Among the other prize winners were Peter Fernandes (for being the first person to reach the venue), Nicole (for sporting the best mehendi pattern), Shyamala (for being the only lady there to have just her husband’s picture as her cell phone wallpaper). Loved the way Shyamala made her way to the DJs booth towards Anne :-D. It was an almost hesitant walk, almost as if hoping someone else would beat her to it :-D. Alas, no one did ! Way to go, Shyamala ! :-D
Once dinner was done and over with, the kids started to warm the dance floor up and it was only a matter of time before the adults hit the dance floor as well. It was pretty much a “no holds barred” scene on the dance floor. People were dancing separately, in small groups, in big groups. End of the day, nothing else mattered but for the fact that people were letting their hair down and having fun. How could people stop dancing, batao ? Dhamki jo di gayi thi ki “jab tak baithne ko na kaha jaye, sharafat se naachtey raho”. Not just on Facebook, individual Whatsapp pe bhi dhamki !! Ab kya batayein, Laguna wasiyon – bhalai ka toh zamaana nahin raha :-D.
Now, this blog post wouldn’t have been complete without picking the organizers’ brains about their inspiration and the impetus behind having undertaken the organization of the Diwali Party. One can only imagine the amount of effort and energy that they must have put in, to bring this evening to fruition. Right from the time this idea was visualized, the image of the same conjured up, the bigger aspects of the entire evening planned, as well as the little itty bitties and the oomph factors that go into making such an evening memorable, it must have been one massive endeavour. So what was it then, that gave them the driving force ?
Here’s what they had to say :
Living away from home, the way to stay connected is through staying together in our celebrations. Diwali, for us, is one such grand occasion to connect and therefore, we take it upon ourselves to put this event together for our Laguna Indians community. What started off in 2010 as a casual decision to flaunt our Indian finery has turned out to be a biennial event that has surpassed our expectations.
When it all comes together in tandem and we sit back and enjoy the pictures (like this morning), it all begins to make sense as to why we do what we do. It is for the gorgeous people who live around us – the people who we do not have time to acknowledge as we ourselves are bogged down by our mundane lives, the people we might pass by without a smile, the special people who stand by us when needed.
This coming together is for all of them – our friends & our friends of friends !!
Beautiful words indeed, exquisitely capturing the beauty behind the sentiments that make the organizers go the lengths they go to, in putting together an evening as special as the Laguna Indians’ Diwali Bash.
Why did I embark upon this whole blog post ? The reason is very simple.
This little chronicle is intended to be a little memory wagon of that awesome evening. It is indeed meant to stand as a memoir to the cordiality, the friendliness, the geniality, all of which worked hand in hand that evening, to create an atmosphere that just wrapped itself around everyone there like a warm blanket, creating a cosy cocoon. This blog post is nothing but a tribute to the harmony, the camaraderie, the amity and the companionship that forms the underlying force, one that is a core of strength among the Laguna Indians.
Life, come to think of it, is nothing but a series of memories that we create and hold on to. It is a collection of reminiscences that stay with us for as long as we live, never ever fading, even with the passage of time. Good recollections are the little snippets that we humans cherish, that we embrace and seize, because in the space of those very memories, are encapsulated a whole load of good times and precious moments. Nothing is ever really finished, done and over with, as long as it rests in the crevices of our memory banks, jumping out into conscious memory when one least expects it. Therein lies the beauty of memories.
Like Cesare Pavese (an Italian poet, novelist) once said
“We do not remember days, we remember moments”.
The evening of the 11th of October, 2014, indeed had many of those moments. Pretty much like a little child walking on the sands of a beach, stopping to pick up beautiful shells, so did the Laguna Indians that evening as they immersed themselves in the ambience and created beautiful memories.