Happy Holi: Holi Color Festival in Mathura, India.
Getting groped, grabbed, and dyed at Holi Color Festival in Mathura, India.
India is already proving to be one of those places I have a love/hate relationship with. The highs are pretty high, already some of the most amazing moments I’ve had on this trip, but the lows are intense and breaking. And my mood and feelings can switch instantaneously.
One minute I’m laughing as we teach Jaime how to use a squat toilet in our hotel room. The next I’m frantically throwing all my things onto the bed when the shower overflows and leaks into the room and all over my bags.
One minute I’m being introduced to the Indian Holi festival with friendly locals painting my face, inviting us in to a game of cricket, dancing with us as they set up, taking more photos of their Western visitors then I am of them. Then the next I’m at the train station, dodging women who don’t believe in the concept of a line, and being told “no” without any explanation to my request to buy a ticket before being shoved out of the way.
One minute I’m enjoying a festival, having fun, being part of something. I’m getting my face colored and coloring the faces of others, smiling, laughing. Another minute men are groping at me, grabbing my boobs and my ass, forcibly taking hold of my face with a thick black muck, being aggressive, hostile.
One minute an Indian is protecting us, feeding us, helping us out with where to go and what to say. And the next he is trying to tell us what to do in a way that we’re not completely comfortable with. Or following us on to the next town. Or telling us we are bad people after we didn’t understand his request for us to wait for him.
Holi was hard. Much in the way that La Tomatina was both amazing and miserable this too was both beautiful and trying. But on a much different level. A much different level.
When things were good it was good. Beautiful. Amazing. Festive. And certainly colorful. It was an amazing experience, walking down the street, getting covered from head to toe in colored powders, meeting friendly people who wanted us to have a good time.
But local men don’t always respect foreigners, especially women. So it was a taxing day of trying to dodge men who were trying to grope me and grab me. We found a safe haven where a group of guards protected a group of travelers, but as soon as I stepped away it was scary, a bit dangerous at times.
In the end, I’m not sure if Holi is something I would take part in again. I wanted to love it and, at times, I truly did. But at the same time I spent the whole day a bit fearful, a bit violated. And that’s kind of how I’m feeling about India in general right now.