Diwali, the Festival of Lights, was observed this past Saturday. My day began with the downstairs neighbor’s kids lighting firecrackers at 7am right next to my window. They’re not even Hindu.
At 6pm, all the houses set out dayas (little tiny pots with oil and wicks) and lit them. The candles lining the verandas, sprinkled in front of the houses, and lighting up the steps were a magnificent sight. It was the night Guyana glowed.
We spent the evening visiting with a teacher who informed us that during Diwali all you do is eat. It’s now my new favorite holiday. She started by feeding us two plates each of delicious food such as coconut filled pastries, pancake-like balls, fried garlic mashed potato-like balls, and many other appetizing snacks. Once we were thoroughly stuffed, we went for a walk to enjoy the lights around the neighborhood.
It was a festive night. A herd of children came charging toward us screaming and laughing while one swung flaming steel wool showering beautiful sparks all around. We played with sparklers and, for a while, got to act like children and swing the steel wool as ourselves.
As we walked along the streets, we picked up more food. It was like Halloween except we got bags of delicious homemade food instead of tiny pieces of store bought candy. We stopped by a neighbor’s house who invited us in for 7 Curry. Although we were already full from the snacks, we couldn’t resist the curry and ended up eating until we felt like exploding. And when we couldn’t eat another bite, they gave us sweet rice for dessert.
After all the juice they provided us, I had to use the bathroom. On our way home I asked the teacher friend if I could use hers. She led me into the back outhouse, opened the door and told me to go on the flat concrete floor. I was taken aback since there was no drain, no working pipe, not even a hole in the ground, just flat concrete. I asked if she had a toilet and she informed me that my only other option was the go in the bush. I was not warned about houses with no toilets during orientation. With a full bladder and seeing as my only option was to go in my pants or in the dark concrete room, I hesitantly chose the room.
The night ended up being enjoyable and light-hearted, but I will forever remember it as the night I gained 10 pounds in 4 hours then peed on my leg.