4 March 2015

Explaining “Holi” to my fellow passenger

My New York flight to Atlanta finally took off at 12:15 PM (original time 7:59 AM). I was chatting with the lady sitting next to me who was equally tired and frustrated. Found out she has been in Georgia all her life. We started talking about my travels and the topic of India came up. Then I made the following ill-fated attempt to explain “Holi” to her…

Me: “Did you know tomorrow is ‘Holi’ day in India”?
She: “It is a holiday in India?”
Me: “No, no, no. Tomorrow we celebrate Holi in India”.
She: “What does Holi stand for?”
Me: “Well, it is rooted in Hindu mythology”.
She: “Oh! you mean it is a ‘Holy’ day in India.”
Me: “Yes. No. Yes. Oh! Boy! It is a holiday in India because we celebrate Holi which is a holy event for us. BTW, you are really confusing me now”.

She: “I am the one confusing you? So, anyways, what do you do on your Holi day?”.
Me: “Well, we buy colored powder. Lots of them. And then also mix colors with water to make colored water. Lots of buckets”.
She: “Why would you make so much colored water and powder?”
Me: “We throw them at each other”.
She: “What?”
Me: “We throw them at each other”.
She: “Why?”
Me: “Because it is holy to do so”.
She: “Don’t get started again”

Me: “Okay, Okay. The celebration is all about throwing colors at each others”.
She: “Your friends?”
Me: “Yes. And also any random person on the street”
She: “Even if you do not know them?”
Me: “Even if we do not know them.”
She: “Old people?”
Me: “Sure”
She: “Kids?
Me: “Of course”
She: “Cows?”
Me: “Yep. Cows are holy”.
She: “Again, you have started?”
Me: “Oh! sorry!”

Me: “So, that is the whole idea. We throw colors at each other”
She: “Nobody gets mad?”
Me: “Some do”
She: “Don’t they yell and scream?”
Me: “Yes. So now we carry guns.”
She: “Like in Texas?”
Me: “No, no. I mean water guns. Like our kids use in the swimming pool. That way, we can throw colors from a distance and run away”.
She: “What if they can outrun you and beat you up?”
Me: “For them, we have water balloons. We throw from a safer distance”.

She: “Good God! The whole country becomes crazy, huh?”
Me: “Yes, that is because we also tend to have bhang on that day”
She: “Bhang?”
Me: “Leaves of cannabis”
She: “You have cannabis?”
Me: “Some do”
She: “Like in Colorado?”
Me: “No, I think in Colorado, everybody does.”

She: “So, you still did not tell me what is this festival all about”
Me: “Well, you see we have a lot of Gods”
She: “So I have heard”.
Me: “One main God is called Lord Krishna. He had colored Radha with ….”
She: “Radha being his wife God?”
Me: “Ummmm… no, I think Radha was his uncle’s wife”
She: “Why was he putting colors on her?”
Me: “I think he was in love. He married her later.”
She: “You think?”
Me: “No, no, I know”

She: “So, let me get this straight. Some God was trying to marry his uncle’s wife. So, you guys get high on cannabis and throw colors at each other. Yeah?”
Me: “Something like that.”
She: “And the country gets a holiday for that?”
Me: “I told you it is a holy day”.
She: “Again you started….”
Me: “No. This time you started”
She: “That’s true”…

It is at that point our breakfast arrived. This is well past 1 PM, mind you!!

Posted March 4, 2015 by Rajib Roy in category "Humor


  1. By Dilesh Bansal on

    I believe some poetic prequels to the original story, introduced this thread of aunt relationship, which didnt become very popular and were later deprecated

  2. By Dilesh Bansal on

    I think the image that lady would’ve left with is that Holi is like Mardi Gras, except you use colors instead of beads

  3. By Mohit Banerjee on

    ROFLMAO !!!! Hilarious Rajib – just out of a tough negotiation (arent they always so !!) – laughing away – am sure people around me are convinced that I have lost my marbles – they might want to call a shrink and call some 1800 number for a strait jacket. Anyway – will share 🙂 Thanks .

  4. By Amitesh Mukherjee on

    I am still laughing after reading it over a couple of times 🙂 🙂 :-). I am glad that the rest of the family members are two floors away from me. They would have thought that I am going crazy or something.

  5. By Sibapriya Dasgupta on

    To give her a first hand experience you could have splashed her or perhaps other unsuspecting Indian fellow passengers with colored drinks and tomato ketchup and burst those paperbags and shout at the top of your voice Holi Hai!!! It is good that you had anticipatory hair cut!

  6. By Prabir Nandi on

    Good one Rajib. Glad you did not get into “gopis “. Then it would be one convoluted Utah – style discussion 🙂

  7. By Suranjan Kar on

    may the pink of health, the blue of serenity, the green of clean, the yellow of attention, the red of passion, the beige of sobriety, the white of openness, the black of honesty, the purple of mystery, the orange of attraction …… may all the millions of colours in hexapixels turn your life into one memorable picture! enjoy a great `holi’day!!

  8. By Rajib Roy on

    Sibapriya, I am all about living up to your expectations 🙂 Jokes aside, that incident actually did happen two days back on the much delayed flight DL 1647 from LGA to ATL. I had to write down after the conversation and while she was not watching. So the words were not always exactly the same – but it followed exactly the same trend. She was very sporting and I thoroughly enjoyed my discomfort explaining Holi 🙂 (BTW, the next day, same flight on its return trip slipped on the runway in LGA and burst thru the barriers. PAssengers had to be evacuated!!)

  9. By Moniruddin SK on

    Hahahaha— Sibapriya, ami tomar songe akebare akmot r Bachchu, tui aktu padodhuli amake aktu diye jabi bhai protidin pronam korbo karon paler hawa nijer dike ki kore gorate hoy ta tor theke keu beshi jane na. A bypare bakira tor kache sishu!!!

  10. By Sibapriya Dasgupta on

    Nindachchole prosongsha! Ekhane shabe sandhya nemeche.
    Jai hok, iswarer kache tor mongolkamona kori! Bhagyish aager diner flight chilio!

  11. By Bijit Bose on

    You missed the Holistic explanation of the event – we use paint to color our pent-up feelings about the pentacled sister-in-laws and sister-in-nothings in our neighborhood.

  12. By Judha Biswas on

    You could have just said that its a festival where we play paintball irrespective of age with coloured powder and coloured water 😛 pretty much like tomato festival in spain. 😀

  13. By Rupak Ganguly on

    This is hilarious! One day, when you publish your book, and I would be reading it, I would be laughing as hard as I am today.

  14. By Rupak Ganguly on

    Anyway, I was about to suggest that next time you could say “Holi is like the Tomatino festival without the tomatoes but replaced with colored water”. But, if you say that, there is no story. Hence you stick to your imagination and engage in amazing conversations.


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