I say Holi, you say One yelled the DJ and the crowd shouted back with equal enthusiasm. So this was my first Holi festival of colour. In fact, it was my first festival of any description. Had I left it too late? Having just taken early retirement from work, I was amused to take a phone call from one of our neighbours the evening before. She informed me they would be having a wedding party “glamping” over the weekend and she wanted to apologise in advance for any noise. She was at pains to stress the couple weren’t youngsters and any music they were having would not be loud and thumping. I told her that was a shame as I was heading for London the next morning where there would be a lot of loud, thumping music. I love her dearly, but I could see she didn’t see the funny side, so I wished them well and carried on with my preparations.
I had already packed my rucksack with the camera and everything needed to clean it during the day. Laid out next to the bed were a pair of trousers that had seen better days, a white T-shirt (which is traditional – arrive in pristine white and go home colourful) and my old travelling hat. As an afterthought I also added an old newspaper, which came in handy on my way home…
My wonderful husband dropped me off at the station and I bought a travel card for Wembley Park. It took nearly two hours to reach my destination, but as soon as I got off the Tube I could see I was in the right place by the number of similar white-clad party-goers all heading towards the Wembley arch. I wish the actual venue had been as inspiring as it sounds, but the festival was actually held in a cordoned off car park in the shadow of the new stadium. I say “shadow”, but it was one of the hottest days of the summer and there was no shade to be found. Only the heat being reflected back from the tarmac. I wasn’t there for the venue though and once the powder throws began, I didn’t expect to see much of the background anyway.
They must have waited a couple of hours for the crowd to build before the first throw. Until then, groups amused themselves by testing some of the powder. The more ingenious had brought water pistols, or simply mixed their powder with water in empty bottles. Although I didn’t take a direct hit for some time, I was soon coated in a thin layer of colour, with a few spatterings of paint where I hadn’t moved out of the way quickly enough. It was all in good fun though and much later on, I was cuddled by a complete stranger who commented on my lack of decoration. I told him it was because I was on my own and in a kind gesture to make me feel included, he pulled out a bag of purple dust and covered me from head to toe.
And so it was that I travelled home like that (with a few more colours thrown in for good measure) about an hour later. As I boarded the Tube heading back to London Bridge, the elderly lady opposite couldn’t take her eyes off me. As if it was the most normal thing in the world, I opened up my rucksack, pulled out the newspaper and laid it over the seat before sitting down carefully. I smiled at her and she looked away quickly. By the time I got to London Bridge the train was full to bursting, but I had no trouble getting a clear space to the door. I’m sorry to say that I still left a small circle of orange powder where I had been sitting, but in my defence I can only say that it washes out easily.
My husband wasn’t taking any chances with the car and had completely covered the passenger seat with a large tarpaulin. If you are interested in how the camera fared, then catch my next blog post!
Girl with the Sunglasses
Pretty in Pink