When I was a young man of 10, Dashain was the time when you would get to eat tons of meat, buff, chicken, mutton and suffer from stomach cramps and still continue to gorge on delicious home-made dishes till you dropped on the floor and could not take itnanymore. You would get new clothes, gifts and tons of Rupees from your relatives during the â€˜Tikaâ€™ day! And the whole of Kathmandu was busy flying kites. Nowadays, there a few kids in the valley who continue to carry the tradition of flying kites till this day and these kids deserve at last free college scholarships from all of us who grew up with Changa-Chait!
When I was a young man of 20, Dashain was no longer about waiting for forty-course meals at home. It was more about hanging out with your friends, learning to play cards and drink cheap whiskey and grab a pack of smoke and share it with your friends. Yes, you grow from a studious, well-behaved kid in primary school to a rebel who wants to break all the rules when you are in college.
The money you received on â€˜Tikaâ€™ day did not make you happy. The same relative who made your day when he handed out a five-hundred Rupee note to a ten year old kid was now a cheap uncle who gave you the same amount a decade later. And since you are now in college, you learn a thing or two about economics, you silently whine about how the cheap uncle did not seem to take inflation into account when handing out the dakshina!
At 30, your role suddenly changes from one receiving the gifts and eating like our politicians who seem to want to gobble up everything from the state and the people to a giver who now hands out Dakshina to the little ones and visit relatives with gifts. From a cheap whiskey drinker, who had to hide behind the bushes as they hadâ€™ jhyaangâ€™ everywhere in the old Kathamndu whenever you want to take a puff, you suddenly evolve into a person who gifts Red or Black Label to your relatives and friends just to make sure that they do not whine about you and your choice of everything later on after Dashain is over.
And when one gets married, everything changes. Now, you have to visit your sasurali during Dashain and you cannot come up with any excuses whatsoever. You have to act like a gentleman and finish everything your in-laws offer. Itâ€™s better to not eat at least 12 hours before your expected time of arrival at the Sasurali! Itâ€™s like you have to go on some kind of a fasting before the â€˜D-Dayâ€™.
Your brother-in-law wants you to drink whiskey at 11 in the morning and you canâ€™t say no because he knows your past history thanks to your wife. He gives out the smirk as if to say, you are not a saint and you can drink anytime you want. There you sit, your tummy full about to explode and then you are having two-three pegs of whiskey neat because thatâ€™s how your brother-in-law likes it.
Your mother-in-law is a saint. She doesnâ€™t drink, she doesnâ€™t eat meat and she doesnâ€™t speak much either. So you really donâ€™t know how to carry the conversation with your wifeâ€™s mother after the usual â€˜How are you?â€™ So you just keep eating the snacks and sipping the drink and smile and nod even if your mother-in-law is not saying a word.
Your wife is busy in the other room, cracking jokes with her sisters and sister-in-law. I know they are talking about me because once you have been married for more than a year, you kind of learn to listen to both verbal and non-verbal stuff your wife makes. And when she is in the other room laughing loudly like another one of those mini-earthquakes, you know she is talking about the time your laptop was nearly on fire and you borrowed your wifeâ€™s helmet and still continued to use the laptop. Or maybe she is talking about the time, we went to watch â€˜Bang Bangâ€™ and then came home and went on a non-stop ten minute dance routine to prove that you were better dancer than Hrithik Roshan. Â And somehow your wife managed to take the video and then show it to her friends, relatives and even the local barber, the butcher and the guy who repairs motorcycles across the street from your home.
Last Dashain, I took my wife abroad but it was more of a marathon as we were busy running around trying to get most of the four days-five nights tour package. This Dashain, we are staying home and will be visiting our relatives as usual. I tell my wife that we should go trekking next Dashain. We could save a few Lakhs spent on foreign trips and we could save ourselves from stomach cramps and indigestion if we stayed in the valley.
Wishing all of you a Happy Dashain, may we all celebrate, be merry, eat and drink in moderation and of course, no MaPaSe. Also donâ€™t lose your house while playing cards!
ByÂ Kalu Maila
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org