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01 November 2005

the clear leaders in pure celebratory explosion

i'll take a different approach. given the very unfortunate terrorist bombings in bali, london, and delhi, i'm afraid my original tongue in cheek opener 'let's be clear about one point: i'm no stranger to explosives.' doesn't quite ring with the humorous tone i'd intended and opens the door to misinterpretation for those who don't know me well.

growing up as a child in pennsylvania, the fourth of july meant one thing: fireworks. despite the state laws banning certain types of fireworks, there always seemed to be an abundant supply of sparklers, smoke bombs, firecrackers, roman candles, bottle rockets, jumping jacks, m80's, and miscellaneous other gun powder packed goodies around the neighborhood at the beginning of july. i don't think anything turned my dad into a teenager again as much as igniting explosives with the other neighborhood dads. each year would be better than the last... each year one neighbor would try to outdo the other... each year the fourth of july night sky would be brighter. bigger. better. louder. POW!

however...

none of my pennsylvania fourth of july's compared to the explosive power of the diwali celebrations in mumbai's colaba area this evening. while the states excel in the area of bright, beautiful, colorful airborne fireworks, it seems the indians are the clear leaders in pure celebratory explosion. the day began at 0730 when a madman (no doubt smiling maniacally) set off a string of firecrackers on the street below my window. i'm guessing i woke up after a few seconds... and the noise continued without interruption for at least 20 additional seconds. good morning.

the frequency of the explosions increased throughout the day until nightfall, when the street below my hotel became a complete chaos of children running around igniting firecrackers... wait, the term 'firecrackers' is not the best word because it implies (at least to me) a small [bang!] when really these children were igniting [kkkkkkaaaaaAAAAAPOOOW! llooww rruummbbllee.]... a complete chaos of children running around igniting explosives that were way out of the league of anything i'd witnessed (except in those special 'oh, you should hear what byron's dad got a hold of this year' situations in pennsylvania). i mean damn... the street was a frenzy of explosion... and i'm talking right in the downtown area of mumbai while cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and scooters continued to drive by. my eardrums rumbled with each of the big explosions and i eventually grabbed my earplugs in an effort to prevent escalated [eeeeeeee]. i know for a fact that the people standing down on the street had to have experienced some type of ear damage that night... i went down a little later and even with the earplugs my head was hurting. (of course it could have been the flaming piece of firecracker that landed _directly_ in the center of my scalp. 'hmm... that's strange... wonder what tha... WHOA!' if it hadn't been for the recent buzzcut i think my head would have gone up like a torch.).

that was my initiation into the indian festival of lights. [_wow_] so glad i stayed for diwali in mumbai.

earlier in the day i'd met two cool kids, viraj and gunjan, who had approached me while i was relaxing down by the gateway of india. like the day before, these kids didn't want anything from me... just wanted to hang. i'd guess they were 13 or 14. they'd said that they'd said hello to other tourists in the area and that most had just ignored them. it's really a shame that due to the high number of touts, most tourists are already so defensive that genuine interactions don't occur as frequently as they should.

[slight digression]
i haven't talked much about the food situation here. as you may have noticed from my previous entries, i've been spending a lot of time in a restaurant called leopold's. leopold's is directly under my hotel, the food is good and cheap, the place is very clean, and the service is excellent... more importantly, i needed a stable safe haven from the streets for these first days in india. surprisingly, my stomach has been extremely resilient with the transition to local cuisine, although i must admit leopold's definitely seems to cater to tourists so i'm sure i've been experiencing a watered down version of the local food. i have been trying new things... mostly chicken dishes... even going so far as to order items i know absolutely nothing about... and in all cases i've been pleasantly surprised.
[end digression]

tomorrow... goa. i didn't have the opportunity to visit the prince of wales museum or elephanta island while i was in mumbai... i'd saved those for another day.

posted by paul on Tue 01 Nov 2005 at 00:00:01 est (-05:00)

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