Oct 8, 2003


My car driver is a very religious man. He insisted on a prayer ceremony this past dusshera for our car. Not wanting to let anything disturb him while driving on our construction-sites ridden bangalore roads, I nodded my head absentmindedly, gave him some money and thought that would be the end of it. I wasn't prepared for the crowd of people in front of our car when he invited me to witness the puja.
Two plantains were tied to either side. A huge garland adorned the front window. All the other windows had bright hindu religious symbols drawn on them. Fellow drivers, other folks working in various capacities in the apartment complex were milling about. Sweets and sundry paraphernalia sat waiting and I stayed in the back, terribly embarrassed about associating myself with the racket. I needn't have been embarrassed. All other cars in the apartment had similar things on them. I wondered uncharitably if it was the opportunity of showmanship that drove my driver and not the gods.
He went around he car with incense, went around with a lighted lamp and then with much gusto broke a coconut to pieces. A pumpkin followed. A lemon was crushed under the wheels. The red water from the vermilion splattered on the ground. I gazed at the broken pieces and the red liquid, sighed at what it symbolized and with a heavy heart declined the professed sweat.

October 08, 2003