Happy Deepavali

Folks have fled the strictly-business city of Bangalore, gone home for Deepavali. For a week the traffic will be tolerable, such as it was this morning when I arrived 15 minutes ahead for work although I’d started late.

Along the way, I looked up often from my reading. The world looks clearer as the end of the year approaches, and I relish the details that hit the eye when I look up from my reading and look out the window from the back seat of the car: The cloud and the sky, the lines on leaves, the texture on stone in the walls, and the varied hues of flowers. The sight will get better every day until December, even January, and so I am happy. I’m traveling only two weeks this quarter—to the cold parts of America in November—so that leaves me a lot of time to enjoy home.

I’ll not spend all Deepavali in Bangalore. I’m going to Malnad two days, where there are only trees round my home and there’s not another house in sight, whether I look out from ground level or from the decks on upper floors. The offending sounds are faint, except for the occasional tractor that violates the ear from a far distance. The cries of birds and the stridulations of the restless crickets are welcome, of course. Here in Bangalore, even with the immigrant population absent, the rest set off cracker-chains in quantities that make me irritable, and my dog scared. But I’ll come back to Bangalore for the remainder of the week—to experience the city when most people are gone from it, which happens only during Dasara, and Deepavali, and the odd long weekend.

Something else has thinned too, and I don’t know why. There are almost no posters of politicians on compound walls or on the parapets of overpasses along my hour-and-a-half drive to work. I noticed only a short series of posters of the our Chief Minister, of his smiley face with good teeth and gray stubble, pasted by organizers of a yesteryear celebrity’s birthday with the Chief Minister as chief guest. That’s it. There are none of the other posters of ministers and legislators and corporations and youth leaders and budding others.

Even the movie posters were few when I looked for them. Having seen them, I read the names of them: easy names: Belli (Silver); Bang Bang; Power; Cigarette; Neenade Naa (I’ve become you); and Chinnada Bete (The Hunt for Gold), which title has the exhortation beneath it, “Play Bold, Play Gold.”

And I noticed a change I hadn’t observed until now: Hollywood movies are no more promoted via posters on the scale they were in the past. I saw not a single Hollywood poster during the ride to work. It is the year of horror movies at Hollywood, it seems, and you get to know what’s on at the cineplexes via the Internet. That’s all right. It’s not walls and billboards that tell you everything these days. That task is usurped to everybody’s joy by the smartphone.

Happy Deepavali, all.

I wrote this last week, published it today…