But there is little chance you wont know about Navarathri. The day they set the golu you pretty much know its not normal anymore for the next 10 days. What is golu? In south India .. hmm... its difficult to explain now. Remember Kramer talking about levels in his house to Seinfeld. This is more like it. There is a big shelf made in every house (temporarily assembled ofcourse). The shelf has step-like levels (odd number of steps mind you!). So your mom keeps dolls in these steps. Apart from 10 avatharams of Vishnu and a few other God related dolls everything else is randomly picked without significance. Do any of you know why golu is kept? No. I dont know either. No! googling didn't help too.All I know is that - its fun. As a kid arranging the cricket player dolls in the plate full of mud was awesome. The hype created about it is too much to meet the expectations out of the festival. Because after you arrange those cricket players with careful field settings -- they just stay there. After a while you kinda look at those clay dolls and say... "ahmm they are not moving". However, the excitement in bringing those old smelly boxes full of dolls down from the "paranai" (attic) is unbeatable. My mom is a big fan of golu and so every year the arrangement in my house with be kinda dramatic.
Then the girls arrive. This is the best part. As a high school/college kid you are chasing girls. Now girls get invited to your house. Pretty stunning looking girls that too. You think "mom can do some amazing things". They come to your house and sing couple of songs too. But ofcourse as a guy you have to b e -- c o o l. You dont want to show those girls you changed into a neat shirt and were combing your hair for 30 minutes. You have to pretend that you don't care about the whole function, pass two sarcastic remarks and in general appear un interested. I cranked up the TV volume and overdid this "cool attitude" sometimes. Not good! Because that results in your mom yelling at you in front of the girl and totally embarass you. Girls man! they are simply wonderful species. The shy little beauties sing nicely. They don't talk much when they come in and mostly hide behind their sisters or mom. But once somebody asks them to sing they immediately sit down and dish out charanams and pallavis like it is nobody's business. You are stunned at decibel level these tender species can generate. Ofcourse you can't show out that you are quite taken-in by their voice, their demenaour, they way they lift their eyes when they sing and the way the hair loosely falls on their face when they transitioned thalams. Because you have to b e -- c o o l. Ofcourse there are times when the over eager girls burst into a song out of nowhere. You are almost not expecting it. You are in the middle of a conversation with someone and suddenly you hear sombody singing loud enough to drown the other voices. For a few second you are wondering if you should complete the sentence or should you stop abruptly? You sort of mess around spitting out a few nonsensic words and then go silent pretending as if you are listening. Except for the old man in the house who is catching unseen and unknown raagas flying in the air, nobody really knows what the chic is screaming about. And after the song gets over the visitors leave before you can remember and complete the unfinished sentence.
The whole I-visit-you-and-you-visit-me amazes me. Because everytime women visit other women's house (its a custom that all women you know come over and visit your house and vice versa) they are given sundal ( delicacy) and a gift. Of course! those gifts are re-gifted to other women. My question is (sorry! but I have hangover from my statistics class) - given the high probability that the social circle of women is highly networked with very little standard deviation -- how come they aren't gifted with something that they had gifted to someone else two days ago. That the gifts did not choose to loop and come back to the same person bugged my engineering senses ( Then again I wasn't bugged so much because I had very little engineering sense). Everytime my mom came back, I'd look at the gifts to see if something we gave out 2 days before came back. Sundals are a cool thing ofcourse. You never knew so many varieties of sundal existed. Now navarathri is like a distant memory in a place where no festivals of this ilk exist. I was pleasantly surprised when my wife kept a 3 step golu arrangement and invited a couple of confused n.indians to give out sundal. Started narrating the spilled-coffee-on-pant-when-chics-visited kind of embarassing navarathri stories to my wife and that ultimately led to this blog.