23 Mar Ides of March
‘Tis the ides of March. In school it often reminded us of Caesar, Cassius and Brutus. Now as those classroom memories fade, we are still left with the blue skies this month has in Delhi, the soft breeze and the leaves in the wind. There are still flowers everywhere, the afternoons are getting hot but the mornings and evenings are still cool and the nights are still cold. Along with February, this is one of the best times to be in Delhi.
The wondrous colourful festival of Holi is usually just around the corner. This year it came very early. Tesu flowers are soaked in tubs and buckets full of water, giving the water a pretty orange colour. Other natural colours are derived from various sources, mostly flowers. All of them easily wash off but don’t reduce the fun of colouring friends and family in many-splendoured hues. No one is spared. They are splashed through pichkaris – especially designed brass and steel water pumps and of late plastic water pistols and guns. They are chased and grabbed. The child in everyone comes out. If some are foolish enough to protest – they are told with an engaging smile “Bura na mano, Holi hai” – you can’t mind, it’s Holi. It’s how fast you can run, how well you can duck, how fast you can re fill that count. The rest is laissez faire.
For some Holi is subdued now because of School exams, which should be related to the seasons or the calendar year but aren’t. As a result the dates often clash and there is the tension of exams for school children and their Indian parents. It used to coincide with the calendar year and lead to winter holidays of a month from early December to early January. New Year and Christmas were the high points of those party days. Now post Exam holidays come after the Ides of March – when the weather is still pleasant for the classroom and school. Consequently, children end up going to school for the next term late into May which is summer.
The Ides of March in Delhi then and now.