Lessons Learned During Holi, the spring Festival of Colors, celebrated by a conspicuous bunch of Fulbrighters in South India.
- Descending on an all-Indian Holi celebration in Kochi, Kerala, as a group of 10 Fulbrighters is just asking for an all-out Holi war. (The little kids from Kochi won.)
- If you are a Westerner, you are a target.
- Keep your eyes squinted. Sunglasses will not protect you. Luckily, colorful powder does not cause blindness…usually.
- Girls are gentle. Boys are not.
- If kids see you holding packets of powder, they will come and beg you to give them the bags. It’s a bit like handing out Halloween candy, if trick-or-treaters’ modus operandi was to engage in a violent tug of war for said Halloween candy and then turn the candy against you by pelting it in your face.
- When kids run out of powder, they will substitute rocks.
- If you are worried you have broken out in a post-Holi rash, don’t worry. Your skin has just been dyed by the pink powder. It will go away in 72 hours.
- Brian loves Holi.
- Rickshaw drivers will not pick you up if you are a dripping rainbow monster. (See Number 10.)
- Random guys with flatbed trucks are very kind and will give you a lift back to your hotel if Brian asks nicely.
- The owner of your hotel may request that you hose off outside before walking through his lobby in a spray of excess powder. One of the staffers will bring you soap for your public shower.
- You and your Fulbright entourage will be a source of great amusement to the locals.
*Thank you to Sony Jose for the use of his photos (those with black borders) from Kerala.