Blinded By The Colour – Holi 2014

The pink city, or in my opinion more brown than anything, but hey, who am I to judge. Jaipur, for me was rather uneventful and uninteresting compared to the many other cities in the desert state of Rajasthan. Stunningly bright colours bouncing off the light brown sand, saris flowing in the dry breeze throughout the magnificent state, rich with history of invasion and conquering, full of culture, tradition, hospitality and some succulent North Indian food. But here, to brighten Jaipur for me, I was here for the monumental spring festival, Holi, celebrated almost country wide and now throughout the world. The festival of colour and love is on the last full moon of winter signifying the coming of spring, and for the most part an anarchy of colour.

52              I woke in a sweat, wide eyed as if a shot of adrenaline was pumped into my heart bringing me back from the cusp of an overdose. I could feel the sweat beading down off my chin on to my lap, the monotonous drone of the fan spinning, the temperature slowly rising, I had to get out. I knew it was all going to begin soon and I didn’t know if I was ready. Armed with a pump action water gun loaded with blue dye and five bags of paint, I wasn’t sure if it was enough, was I going unprepared. How much is enough when it’s every man, woman and child for themselves in the lawlessness of the riotous streets. Gathering the troops on the rooftop that were as much enemy as friend in this, we passed through the front doors into city streets where it all began.

Coming at us from all angles, I was locked and loaded deciding which one to shoot first.  Drawing first blood from a distance the rickshaw drivers with handfuls of paint, too many, just kept coming. Happy Holi, and I was hit. Smearing the powdered paint into my face, I returned the favour. Loading up the rickshaw with all ten of our squadron, I hung off the back acting as our turret firing at oncoming motorists. No one was safe… unless my cheap gun couldn’t reach. Bombs had been dropped left and right through the city leaving walls, cars, cows and people massacred with the coloured shrapnel. Stepping out into the mayhem, immediately being swarmed by locals, I was lost in a cloud of dust and transformed into a tie-dye smurf before long as we walked the old city. Rescuing a few lone soldiers along the way from the opportunistic groping hands, we regrouped at our hostel to figure out our next plan of attack.

50              Decisions made, troops rallied, the infiltration of an outdoor rave was our next target. Little did I know upon entering the warzone, the mayhem was only truly beginning and the best was yet to come in the following hours. In need of some liquid motivation, we found the bar. Going straight to my head making short work of a few with so little in my stomach, I was anxious to get to the heart of the storm. Attacked from all angles, a free for all, I was a complete different colour at what seemed like five minute intervals. Drenched from top to bottom, temporarily blinded by the few who would forget that I had eyes when they smothered my face with paint, rendering me only capable of drinking while I waited for my vision to return. Moving my feet and arms imitating the locals dancing as camouflage as I walked through the mist sprinkler to remove some of the layers of colour was a poor, ill-fated attempt. Within seconds of stepping out of the mist, I was a target. If I didn’t stick out enough already, a reasonably clean face, free of colour brought them swarming.

51As the sun retreated over the horizon peace was declared and the music brought to a halt. I’d ingested enough paint to piss a rainbow and in dire need of a proper meal and shower to refuel and calm the soul. Watching the colour run off into the drain, it looked like I may have slaughtered the teletubbies, left with wounds of dyed skin and a green scalp. It was a city wide blitz leaving its mark on me for the remainder of my days. A festival like no other, never to be forgotten.

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