So this Diwali, I decided it was high time I learned how to play cards; and by play I mean sit on the table and gamble, not just sit in one corner with my (other non-player) friends and get drunk.
For those not acquainted with the increasingly rampant tradition in New Delhi, and Gurgaon, the concept of bursting firecrackers till the wee hours of the night –actually, my cousins and I are pretty much exhausted by 10pm –is slowly winding down. For the sake of keeping traditions alive, a regular family, like mine, lights up a few non civil-war bombs and fancy rockets and end on a starry skies note with the big finale quality fireworks in the time frame of one hour and head off to a cards party.
It’s the dilliwalla way of protecting the environment and keeping up with the highbrow standards. So, everyone’s all decked up in gift-wrapping paper, saris and fancy suits or kurtas, and getting together for parties –the usual card-party scene kicks off about two weeks or so in advance.
Okay, so, picture this. I’m late for one such party, because I was pretty much exhausted after work, and probably the last one to arrive at my friend’s house, when I should have been there hours ago, maybe before it even started. Since the party also doubles up as a birthday thing, I’m carrying a bottle of wine wrapped in a shiny H&M carry bag –I couldn’t find one of those fancy things you’re supposed to give wine in.
I stand in front of the house, staring at the lavish party that’s spread out over two whole floors, and wonder what the hell I’m doing here. I just learned how to play cards, luck isn’t something I have as a general fact of life, and everybody’s dressed up for a Karan Johar movie song-and-dance sequence… crap. (For lack of a better word!)
I weave through the crowd of ooh-aahs and one armed hugs and cheek-to-cheek kisses, offering my explanation for being “sooo friggin’ late”, and head to the upper floor to wish the birthday boy. I feel like I’m dressed for a night at the local brewery, not for this kind of a scene. For lack of a better word… crap!
A quick drink and cigarette –not in front of the uncles and aunties *gasp!* –later, I find myself sitting on a table with people the same age as my parents. You wanna know why? Well because the guys my age are too damn stuck up to play a small hand. And no I don’t fart money, my dad isn’t my ATM machine, I work hard for the money I’m earning. Go ahead; roll your eyes at my vanity!
So I gird my loins and sit down at the table, trying ever so hard not to be distracted by the dozen or so waiters floating around with the most amazing appetizers, and the first cards are dealt. They say, “You win some, You lose some.” I won one round, folded through six. CRAP!!
In the end, I gave up on the cards, and went downstairs for a drink. Then two. Then three. Maybe it’s just the way my strict army-dad brought me up, maybe gambling is the one arena my conscience doesn’t allow me to enter, maybe I’m just too chicken-shit to play the high stakes.
Screw it, I say!
Diwali is all about getting together with the people you love the most, good food and alcohol, of course the usual dhinchak (how I cringe at using that word in my writing) music, and just celebrating life. Of course that sort of goes for most Indian festivals, but around Diwali the spirit of togetherness tends to run high. So whether you’re bored and providing “lady luck” to the boyfriend, or standing in a corner, loudly bitching about someone, or simply overloading your plate, have a Happy Diwali!