Diwali it the festival of lights. It’s something like Christmas in India. Combined with New Year. It is a huge economical consume boost, families love each other and they also pray to the goddess Lakshmi. If you want knowledge read Wikipedia.   And I didn’t even have to spend Diwali with my friends from the internet but with the amazing family Singh. Their son Robil is a friend of mine. Basically he is the only decent person I met in my hostel in the last two-or-so months.

Getting StartedIMG_20151109_193421

The whole trip ended up being kind of hectic, but that certainly happens with every trip. I am often surprised how helpless I am. After visiting two different train stations in Delhi, and spending more than 4 hours in more than 10 different queues in more than 4 buildings I had found out that none of my great plans would work out and I was about to arrive a 2 AM instead. I guess that is how to be a guest for the first time. They obviously thought I would come at 2 PM and reacted rather surprised about my call in the middle of the night.

Indian Trains Ones More

The whole journey to Bareilly I was standing in one of India’s very special sleeper coaches with three beds on top of each other. Diwali the busiest time in India. The worst moment to travel. There is people everywhere, up to three in each bed and the floors full of people sitting, standing and lying shoulder to shoulder throughout the whole night. I was way too late to get a seat/bed so I was standing when the staff came and fined me because my ticket was not valid for the sleeper coach. I got fined extra for standing in the sleeper coach instead of standing in a normal coach. He gave me a bill, charged me too much and then put the money in his own wallet. I even dared to make a provocative comment about that, but literally nobody cared about that at all. Later in the night I got to sit down and at some station people where selling chai through the windows. And as I was sitting in the darkness packed like slaughter chicken, drinking chai at 1AM with the Indians, I felt like I was part of the crowd for the first time.

Border Defence Patrol Family 

The family lives in a small colony of the Border Defence Patrol on the countryside of India, far away from the border. The governmental quarters are free for them but small and they didn’t enjoy much to have to move every view years. I planned to just get sneaked in without waking to many people up put instead they all got up, dressed, brought tea and three different kind of snacks, sat on whatever was there and look with curious excitement at the white stranger on the bed. The parents did not speak great English but their two sons could be of use translating for us.

Sleepy Andysleepy andy diwali

I was so tired from a busy week and the nights in the train I could have easily slept through my entire visit. That can’t happen on Diwali of course. Like for a big events you spend more time preparing than celebrating. Driving to the market, cleaning, decorating, driving to the market again, cooking, washing yourself (there is no shower involved in this) and finally they all put on brand new clothes. They even got me a new sweater. I guess the wanted to make sure the foreign guy looks decent.

Candle Light

As it is tradition everybody lights candles around the house and the view of glowing in the darkness mixed with the excitement you can feel in the air are the reasons Diwali reminds me so much of Christmas. It is like having Christmas twice. And if that’s not awesome than I don’t know what is. Robil acted casual about me of course. But his brother got the kids in the neighbourhood pretty excited and so our Diwali was interrupted a few times by strangers asking for pictures, name, my country and whatsapp. Two of the boys stayed so annoyingly long that I got to use one of my grandma’s sentences for the first time: “Go with god. But please, go now!”

Diwali Andy Anita India

Crackers and PrayerIndia Candle Diwali

When it is dark (except of candles everywhere) people get out the crackers like the Europeans do at New Year. It always feels a bit like war, but in the quarters of the border defence control the feeling gets a lot stronger. One of the crackers exploded in my hand. It was foolish of me to think they are as safe as in Germany. After that I really had enough of crackers. And when we got inside, to sit down on the floor of their bedroom in front of a little temporary altar of the goddess Lakshmi, the sound of explosions is still filling the streets. That is what caught me most about Diwali. Christmas is holy and silent. New Year’s Eve is load and wild. Diwali is both. And so we sit there on the floor silently, apart from whispered prayer, whilst the crackers from outside fill the house with, ghostly shadows, colourful light and super annoying noise. Some families pray in peace and at the same time some literally set things on fire. How do they manage to mix things up? Next days there are still some kids playing with those crackers and I really think at some point the excitement is over, but of course they don’t think so.

Diwali LoveIMG_20151111_162034

In the two days I stayed in Bareilly me and the mother of the family, Anita, would sometime sit on the small terrace, read and feed the monkeys or talk. I talked in English and she would talk in Hindi and then we both smiled. Did the job. Indians are always very hostile and she got very excited about my visit. In the end I got to keep the sweater I wore at Diwali and she gave me a whole bag of presents. Sweets, nuts, dried fruit, Indian specialities, the sweater and even some nice things for my family and my future bride. Yes, I have something very nice for my future bride. Does that increase my market value now?

I made a Facebook album about the trip.

And you can always find many nice India pictures on my Instagram.

Soundtrack of my life: It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas