Have you ever danced in the middle of a busy city road, in front of more than 100 spectators, to lyrics you don’t even understand, and still enjoy every bit of it? Have you ever ran downhill holding hands with your children, singing songs and letting the breeze gently blow your hair and your worries away (again in the middle of the busy city road)? Have you ever seen a middle aged lady, dressed conservatively in a sari, sway her hips to the choreography of a 20 year old boy, again in the middle of the road? Have you played cricket and roller skating and kite flying in the middle of the road, all on one day? Have you ever woken up at 6 AM on a Sunday, drove for more than 1 hour to reach such a kind of road?
I did all this today at the Rahagiri day! And it was so intoxicating that I plan to do this each Sunday. Here is the story of how this day came to happen.
We have a Saturday night ritual of loading our hair with oil. (I am yet to understand the reason behind this ritual, but my mom used to do it for us, and I do it for my kids without asking the question why.) As I oiled Toynas hair last night, she proposed that we go to Rahagiri tomorrow. “Rahagiri? But it is so far! And I am so tired! And it will be so hot! And tomorrow is the only day of the week that Mama gets to sleep late. Rahagiri? No, please not tomorrow! We will go another Sunday. Plus, we already have so much oil in our hair! What will people think of us if we go to Rahagiri in this state!” I could see she was not too happy with foregoing Rahagiri but then she cared for her Mom enough to let her get some sleep on Sunday Morning.
Come Sunday morning (today), my alarm clock (Yog, who has a body fitted with an alarm inside) woke up at sharp 6 AM. He wanted milk. As I held him in my arms, Toyna went to the kitchen to heat the milk. After drinking the milk, Yog happily rolled back to sleep. But by then, Toyna was wide awake and so was I. Toyna looked at me and said, “Rahagiri?”. I grumbled under my breath to show that Mama was doing this just for her and asked her to get ready. Honestly, I was excited myself, but why lose an opportunity to earn some brownie points! Head heavy with oil, plain T shirts and slacks and we were ready for the biggest public party at Hyderabad. Off we drove, in the crisp summer morning to the other side of the city where hundreds of city folks gather on the designated road.
Our first stop was Zumba. Toyna instantly jumped in to the alien dance form, but I was shy. There were so many people there. What would they think? But the music was so exciting, I couldn’t help but slowly join in. We swayed, jumped, laughed and probably made a big fool of myself. But who cares! There were at least 50 more middle aged women out there, not caring what the world thought! Well, if they could, then so can I! A few songs later, we slowly pulled ourselves out from the crowd and decided to check out what else was in store. For a while, we just walked hand in hand, singing along, cracking jokes and watching the other children cycle around, enjoying the peace of the beautiful morning. We stopped for water, then kite flying and then trying our hand at cricket.
As we drove back home, later in the morning, I couldn’t help but think that the whole trip to Rahagiri was much more rewarding than any movie, shopping mall, toy store, or even park that I have taken Toyna to. In my mind, I celebrated the fact that we defied the laws of city entertainment today. We didn’t spend a penny, didn’t eat any junk, and yet had a great time. Was it even possible in todays age?
In the modern day life of today, where systems, routines and values are pretty much flexible and based on convenience of the user, I constantly feel the need to establish some form of rituals for my children to follow – Oil every Saturday night, being one of them. I am hoping that given the benefits of something like Rahagiri for me and my children, I can include it as a part of my rituals. I am hoping to dance along with other middle aged women, like me, and not care what the rest of the world thinks about us. I am hoping to unwind completely as we go rolling down the road. I am hoping to feel fresh and energetic right at the start of the week. I am hoping to meet new folks and make new friends in the middle of the road. And above all, I am hoping to establish that connection with my family. After all, isn’t that what Sundays are for?