This is my first Diwali in India in six years and i was quite surprised by the relative lack of excitement visible on the streets considering that Diwali was just around the corner. Where are the crackers? Where is the noise?
Back then, when we were in school, my brother and i used to be allocated a budget to buy crackers. We would then do lot of complicated mathematics with the price list to arrive at an optimum combination of “hardcore” bombs and soft ones like the traditional flowerpot, pencils etc. It was important that we start bursting crackers before the “rest of the gang” and we had crackers left to burst after the rest had burned out theirs.
This year, i didn’t have much of a company and i too wasn’t very keen on bursting a lot of crackers. So, the purchase was put off until yesterday evening. Yesterday, i got the details on the good places to buy crackers and visited those shops. The first one i visited “theoretically” started around half a km before the actual shop, as the queue extended until there. I was in no mood to start an hour to purchase a few crackers. A similar story unfolded in all the other branded shops i visited. So, i went back to the “local” shops though i was told that the crackers might be a bit expensive there.
I had budgeted approximately 500 Rupees for the purchase, as i just wanted to have a feel of the crackers. I wanted to buy the entire course of crackers starting with the sparklers and ending with the rockets. I first asked for a pack of sparklers. Out of curiosity, i asked the shopkeeper for the price. He said “125 Rupees, sir”. 125 rupees for a pack of sparklers! My purchase had almost finished as soon as it began! I was very careful in the further purchases enquiring about the price of each item before purchasing it. Good that i had forgotten the big shopping bag which i had intended to bring. Otherwise, it would have been an embarrassment if i had given the bag to the shopkeeper for the very few items that the 500 rupees would have got me. In fact, the number of items i got for the amount fit into a small plastic cover which usually fits two aavin 500ml milk packets!
Anyway Happy Diwali to one and all, while i go out for 5 minutes to burst the crackers i have bought…