Innocents abroad

At Moon River, D-16, Defence Colony, New Delhi; and S.P. Centre, Colaba, Mumbai, Rs2,450

Little did I know what was in store.

When I stepped into the living room, I was flabbergasted. It was decorated with streamers, balloons, and a Christmas tree. My host family had heard about Diwali from their Indian friends, who said it was like Christmas. So, that year, I had chocolate, not mithai; champagne, not sherbet—and though I wasn’t with my family, still got so much love. I will always cherish this unusual but touching Diwali.

Nalini Gupta

A gifted proposal

At Frazer & Haws, 11, Lodi Colony Market, New Delhi; and Pali Naka, Bandra, Mumbai, Rs3,750

At the end of the puja, guests gave envelopes with cash to the elders—and he asked if he could present one to me. I opened the envelope to find a note: “Your father is a thief. He’s stolen the brightness of Diwali diyas and put it in his daughter’s soul, the sweetness of Diwali sweets and put it in his daughter’s voice, and the positivity of Mahalakshmi and put it in his daughter’s heart. Can I marry the thief’s daughter?" I was speechless. Six months later, we were married.

Vibha Ashar

Dance till you drop

Ours is a Punjabi family, so Diwali is celebrated with great vigour. Some years ago, we were all dancing energetically when one of my aunts slipped and fell. We rushed to help her but when we looked down, we saw an unforgettable sight—my aunt hadn’t stopped dancing, even though she was sprawled out on the floor. We still tease her about it.

Aastha Sethi

firecracker Romeo

When I was in Class XI, I had a crush on my neighbour and decided to impress her by firing rockets directly from my hand. On Diwali night, I gathered all my friends, including the girl, held the rocket in my hand, and lit the wick. Within a split second, it went from my hand into the sky, and burst into a sparkling shower. In the heady rush of success, I quickly lit another. I held this rocket higher and lit it. But this time, instead of yelling with joy, my friends shrieked in horror. I looked up to see the rocket wrestling with the curtain of the girl’s second floor apartment. Humiliated and horrified, I fled the scene. Needless to say, we just remained friends. Every Diwali, I get a phone call from her, reminding me of the incident. Only now, I can greet the memory with a hearty laugh.

Sushant Haritas

family vacation

At Amrapali, Khan Market, New Delhi, Rs2,700

Dharmesh Doshi

prodigal parents

When I decided to marry against my parents’ wishes, all hell broke loose. When my folks realized I was firm in my resolve, the marriage was fixed—but there were sulky faces all around. Within a couple of months, Diwali was round the corner. It’s a custom in our community to invite the newly married daughter and son-in-law for their first Diwali after marriage. Not expecting a windfall of affectionate invites, I was busy planning my own schedule. But, one morning just before Diwali, my parents landed at my doorstep with boxes of mithai and, most importantly, smiles that had eluded me since my wedding. I still don’t remember whether I giggled more or cried more that day. We were duly invited for the celebrations.

Swatee J.

in the eyes of a child

At The Next Shop, Greater Kailash-I, N-Block Market, New Delhi, Rs4,180 for the set

On the eve of Diwali, there was the thunder of crackers. My daughter’s friends asked her to join them in the fun, but she had vowed never to burst crackers made by children. Neighbours tried to persuade her, saying it would not make a great difference, and my parents told her little children need not have such resolutions. But she didn’t budge, saying, “How can I burst these crackers when so many children have been put through hardship?" My husband and I told everyone that we should respect her resolve. My daughter has remained firm in her decision through the years.


Fitting memorial

At Episode, Greater Kailash-I, N-Block Market, New Delhi; and S.V. Road, Santacruz, Mumbai, Rs2,637

Shashi Arora