Diwali, The Festival of lights has always been the best time of the year in India like how Christmas is in US. Twenty+ years back there were a lot of thatched roof houses in Madurai. We lived in one of those and as Kids the only thing that the word Diwali related to us was Fire Crackers. If we were asked to pick two of the best from the variety of crackers we would pick Bottle Bomb and Rockets.
It is the loudest of the lot and once it goes off it usually takes 10 minutes for the ears to start hearing the natural ambient sound, until then all you will hear is the ……geennnnnnnn …the ringing sound. Sometimes the clay padding in the bottom can fly off in random directions and hit some objects in the vicinity. So one needs to run away to a strategically selected direction at the correct angle after detonating. Otherwise it might be possible that the clay would enter your mouth navigate through your digestive system and come shooting out of your rear and you might not even know it happened until you notice a small coin size hole in the back of your pant pocket. This is another reason you have to stand facing the bottle bomb, for you don’t want the clay to traverse in the reverse direction.
On a Diwali afternoon, with a packet of these fire crackers we decided to kill the afternoon by killing our ears bursting these tiny monstrosities. It was an uninhabited street as everyone were napping from the heavy lunch in the afternoon. Except, there was this one guy in a Mukka kai Banian (Inner T-shirt) and Lungi patiently cleaning his TVS-50. We being the dadas of that street walked down to him with our collars up on our dirty shirts and the theme of Good bad ugly playing in the background.
Us: Dude, do you mind taking you and your moped inside your house? We are bursting these!
Him: Can’t you see I am cleaning. Scram!
Us: Don’t come complaining to us if there is any damage!
That’s it we walked off after warning him and we started bursting the pack one by one. With our curiosity spiraling up after every burst, We improved the experience by bursting under cardboard boxes and watching it fly up. As we were doing that, one of us suggested we have to go more sophisticated. We should use a Coconut shell. Intrigued by the idea, We hid one under the shell and lighted it up.
Booooooommmmm …. It was wonderful to watch the coconut shell roll and fly up. Meanwhile, the clay from the bottle bomb flew off and hit the Moped’s head light. Did this happen because we used the coconut shell? No one waited there to research as we promptly ran away to the next street and continued our bursting there. We warned him, he didn’t listen and he had to spend some money to fix that light.
As the sun set and darkness was getting darker we transitioned to the crackers that we would burst at nights. Rockets were the fun part. The best way to fire up a Rocket is from your terrace, but we were from Thatched roof houses which had no terrace so we had to fire it in the streets. Any one who knows India will be able to tell at length(pun intended) about the numerous electric wires that go across poles in the streets. So when you place the Rocket you have to position it precisely so it won’t go hit it. But the electro magnetic field around the wires made sure that it attracted the rocket to it, no matter how precisely we try to position. And so, the following three things happened with our Rockets that we burst.
1. The first one we fired deflected as it launched and it went and hit the roof of our house, stayed there for a while as it burned the powder and then it burst. At this point we should have notified our parents and taken necessary action but we were little kids and we didn’t see any fire so we decided to set another one up.
2. The second one was a small replica of the SLV rocket. It was a bit thick, heavy and was able to stand on its own legs and hence it was also known as Stand Rocket. This time I saw the rocket take off a bit slowly (as it was heavy), watching from about 5 feet far. It pulled down due its weight and started moving on the ground, went between my legs and hit the barotta shop around the street corner and burst there. Thankfully there was no damage and the shop was observing a diwali holiday.
3. The third one we fired deflected and went into an open (on top) bathroom of the neighbor, stayed there for a few seconds and burst. No major damage done, except I remember hearing a person screaming – “Amma Ayyo!”, what felt like a cry of help by summoning the Mother and Wife of Lord Yama and running out of the bathroom, peeing all over the floor and the legs. Ok, I made up the peeing part, but running out of the bathroom crying for help, what else could happen.
We would have went on with our Rocket launches had our friend’s father not noticed the sight. Our operation was stopped, Rockets confiscated and we were taken inside home and handed down some simpler and less damageable fire crackers, like a Kitchen matchbox.
DO NOT TRY THESE AT HOME OR OUTSIDE HOME, ATLEAST NOT NEAR MY HOME
From this what I am trying to say is,
HAVE A HAPPY AND SAFE DIWALI !
PS: For those iPhone/iPod touch owners wanting to celebrate a virtual Diwali, there is an App called Sonic Boom.