November 06, 2010

My Name is Arnab

When an exiled hero returned home after many years having vanquished a demon king, his countrymen laid out rows and rows of lighted lamps ("deepavali") to welcome him back. Nowadays Deepavali, or Diwali in condensed form, marks the triumph of good over evil. Observed by many people in different parts of the world, the festival of light has transcended religious and national boundaries. Every year the Indian Embassy in China hosts a cultural event to celebrate Diwali.

This was my second Diwali in Beijing. I had met my good friend Swathish during the previous year's jamboree, so we commemorated our one year anniversary in style. After a brief speech by the Indian ambassador which I missed, Indian and Chinese performers sang and danced to both traditional and modern tunes. This was followed by a fireworks extravaganza and then dinner, which was the primary motivation for attendance for a large segment of the audience. Accompanied by an ARNABombshell and several other ARNABuddies, Swathish and I retraced our steps from the previous year. We concluded the evening with a nightcap at a lake side bar cosily located within nearby Ritan Park, the beats of Bollywood music still resonating in the background.

As I was leaving the embassy premises, I heard someone calling my name. "Arnab! Arnab! Arnab!". I saw an Indian lady I did not recognize rush towards me. I was unperturbed. A man of my immense dignity is accustomed to receiving outpourings of affection from random females. "Arnab! Arnab!". The woman continued past me to a child who had wandered on to the street. Now I was intrigued. She picked up the infant and let out a sigh of relief. "Arnaaaab". I was no longer the only Arnab in town! I looked at her and said "My name is Arnab". She gave me a look of disdain before walking back into the embassy with her son in tow.


"Happy Diwali!"