Fair Weather Holiday

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There are boring days.

There are exhausting days.

There are days when you’re not yourself or days when you have so much energy that you would like the world to turn upside down.

Then there are the days which change drastically from one moment to the next, days which start normally, then transform when you least expect it.

I wake up a little later than usual with my usual Thursday Indolence – a day when my schedule is heavy and time passes slowly. The Indolence is so great that I put on sweatpants (that aren’t even mine) for the first time since I’ve been here. I try to make myself decent with a pair of earrings, with total lack of success. Not that it matters much to many, but I’m dressed like crap.

Breakfast is disgusting, but I eat it all the same because I’m hungry, like every morning.

I walk listlessly to school, trying to ignore the rumors that today might be a “Fair Weather Holiday”, convinced that I’ll be disappointed in the end. It’s a tradition that the school announces a surprise holiday at the end of the monsoon. Like every week, the high school meets for an assembly in the largest room in the school. A teacher gives a religious talk and asks us to pray, the principal says the usual stuff.

But something changes.

The high school director walks towards the end of the aisle to the stage, as usual, to give announcements. Those seconds of total silence during his walk are always uncomfortable. He reaches the stage, rests his hands on the podium, and brings his mouth close to the microphone. He doesn’t do this in his normal nervous manner, aware of the severe stares of the students. Something is different, he’s not nervous. He simply smiles, with the smile of one who knows [something]. He goes ahead with the announcements, future plans, schedule changes, various tasks. His tone is bored, sick of it all. He knows. He smiles and he knows. He knows he’s wasting time. By this time the students are impatient – they’re making fun of us. Fifteen minutes of assembly, it’s a normal day! And yet we were so sure!

Finally he takes a breath, claps his fleshy hands on the podium, turns towards the principal. It’s a skit: they try to exchange jokes to keep us on tenterhooks when by now it’s so obvious. The school is already celebrating when finally he says it, announces that “today is a fair weather holiday”. He manages to take advantage of that fraction of a second before the yells get too loud to add that, not only do we not have lessons, we can go to the bazaar.

Something about this so unusual and incredibly beautiful day gives me and my new friends a great desire to overdo. Life is beautiful, we’re young, why not have an unforgettable day?

I learn that it comes naturally to me to be natural in any circumstance, and maybe that’s why I’m making new friends.

I’m without money, dressed like an American. Fortunately, I have my small digital camera with me; I’ve gotten into the habit of using it to make videos.

We enter a modest-seeming Indian restaurant and squeeze ourselves around one table. My new friends order a bunch of things whose names I don’t know, but I trust their authentic Indian good taste. I know some better than others, one girl whom I’ve never spoken with seems to know a lot about me and has no problem treating me as if she’s known me for a long time. For my part, I have no trouble telling her all my personal stuff.

We stuff ourselves on parathas, chole bhature, lassi, pau bhaji and aloo bhaji. Everything is exquisite.

MomComm: Ah, yes, the fair weather holiday. Other schools get surprise days off for bad weather, Woodstock gets one for good weather, to add a gift of extra freedom after being cooped up for so long by the relentless monsoon rain. I don’t remember what I did on any particular fair weather holiday, but I remember the breathless anticipation of hoping, expecting, knowing that it would be today, egged on by knowing little looks among the staff members, who try to keep the suspense going as long as possible, before the entire school explodes in joy.

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