My brother and I would wake up sleepy-eyed at 6AM on a holiday, sleep-walk to the bathroom and dress up in white or green or saffron (so yeah, white) to attend the flag-hoisting at the playground in our colony. It's been a regular event ever since I can remember... school days, work-days (I lived elsewhere during my college days) until we moved out of the colony last year.
While most people don't seem to exactly 'celebrate' Republic Day, it's good to see that there are a few colonies that still do it. A colleague of mine mentioned celebrations that included little kids getting cute little Indian flags, a parade by the 25 watchmen in their huge apartment complex, etc. The one I'm talking about is nothing compared to that. We hoist the flag at 7.15AM sharp (the president of the resident's welfare associate does), one of the ladies distributes sweets. There's breakfast, sports/games for kids and parents, lunch, cultural programs in the evening and finally dinner. It's fun to live in colonies with lots of houses but not so many that it becomes a little city of it's own. I miss that. But then, I miss the grounds and the clean locality too. I digress again!
Back to Republic Day celebrations. I drove mum & dad to the colony (as ex-president, dad was a 'special guest'). What was different this year? The ladies decided that they wanted to take the centre stage, so when the flag hoisting was about to start, there was a group of ladies totally amused to watch the confused men wondering where to stand, for their place was taken. One of the women proudly announced that we'd pushed the men aside and taken the lead. The litle joys of life. Guess this was her moment. The president arrived, in a suit (whoa!) at 7.30AM (big crime, we always do 7.15AM on the dot)... the women-folk were getting restless and unhappy at the lack of punctuality. As most people that come under the category of 'big people' in government offices go, the president merely unfurled the flag but didn't exactly put in an effort to get it in a position that it would wave in the wind. One of the other men had to do it after him. Duh!
Usually, we would start off with the National Anthem. Our lady, Mrs. Akhila, started singing Vande Mataram, so the rest of us had to follow suit. She wanted to end the National Song with 'Vande Mataram' chanted thrice. Okay lady, you got it. That was followed by the National Anthem. Thank God for these Republic & Independence day celebrationss, I can still get both these right, unlike a lot of Indians I know *wink* *wink*
The president yelled "Bharat Mata Ki" and the chorus ended it with a "Jai". Then "Vande Mataram" chanted a couple of times and now the audience wanted him to 'say a few words'. If I were in his place, I'd go blank. Imagine being unprepared, an audience wanting you to speak on the occasion of Republic Day, at 7.30 in the morning! I was desperately trying to remember which anniversary it was. 61st. The man just took off and spoke for over 5 minutes. Republic Day, love for the country, greateness of people... oh dear, how do they do that? That's one thing about these KEB guys, I've noticed... they can talk. Anyplace, anytime, anything about. No English, all Kannada. Brilliant. I mean, the speech was okay but the impromptu was good, the language was good.
Breakfast from Shrinidhi Sagar, as always. Idly-Vada with sambar and coconut chutney, Kesaribath and tea. No coffee. Sigh! I am a coffee person. Enjoyed breakfast. Wished I could have another vada but I was really full. While mum & dad caught up with old friends from the colony, I decided to sit in the car and read for a while. I ended up watching a few kids play. It looked like fun. A new game. Never played that before. One boy from the group throws a ball up in the air and the guy who is "out" runs to where it drops off. The other guys run as far away from the ball as they can but have to turn into statues the moment the 'out' guy finds the ball and yells "STOP!". Then he picks one guy from the group (I'm guessing the guy closest to him), who remains a statue and the rest of the group crowds around the guy who was picked. The 'out' guy throws the ball in the direction of the group and whoever the ball hits is now "OUT". The ex-out guy throws the ball up in the air, the new 'out' guy runs after it and the rest run away from it... and it continues in a never-ending game.
Nothing like the lagori of our days but well, kids these days are lot delicate, I guess. As long as they didn't break the glass of my car, I was happy. After a few minutes of watching some of the kids crowding around my car and the 'out' guy trying to fling the ball at them, I decided that the stress wasn't worth it and dragged my parents back home. I just had to get my car out of there. I had work to get done, at home.
It's afternoon now, I'd better go wish dad while it's still his birthday. It always seems to get buried in the bigger celebrations of the bigger events of Republic Day. Poor dad. The husband's got a chocolate cake, which might have been cut and eaten at midnight if dad hadn't slept by then, if bro did not have to run a marathon this morning and the husband himself didn't have a long ride planned. Cake still waits. Yummm, the thought of chocolate cake in the refrigerator is making me hungry...