I was walking on the road when it happened.
It was Ganesh Chathurti. I was in Pune city, having made plans to meet a couple of friends for lunch. I was making my way through the crowded street, when I noticed a rangoli drawn right in the middle of the road. I was amused at the inconvenience it was causing people who would have to walk around it. But no one dared to step on the rangoli itself. Even Pune motorists, who drive like they would not hesitate to plough through you, carefully swerved to avoid driving on it.
A few steps ahead was the culprit, drawing another rangoli. I stopped on my tracks, filled with a sudden desire to take a picture of him; a symbol of intense devotion and public disruption. I could hear the sounds of a Ganapati procession in the distance, with drums and trumpets and the sounds of people shouting and singing.
I shrugged and started walking ahead. A few minutes later I reached the procession, which was slowly inching forward. Men and women danced in the front while kids took pictures with the life-sized versions of Ganapati and Hanuman.
I stood there watching the procession and clicking pictures, chuckling as I watched the antics of children. How happy they all seemed! Brought together by this shared illusion of worship.
That’s when I realized it was starting to rain. There was a sudden change in my surroundings; the air I breathed was fresher, the wind was gentler and cooler, everything seemed brighter and somehow more beautiful that it had been moments ago.
I started walking again. But this time there was a spring in my step. Water was pouring all around me, and within seconds I was completely drenched. Yet I kept smiling, walking at a leisurely place.
People I passed by on the road stared at me as if I had lost my mind. With dripping wet clothes and hair plastered to my face, I was grinning from ear to ear like an idiot!
But I didn’t care. At that moment, I was happy. Happier than I had been for a long time. Happier than I would be for a few days, maybe years. I was happy because the world is a beautiful place. Because there is no order or rigidity, just impulse and surprises.
But mostly because I didn’t need a reason to be happy.