The last 3 diwalis have been quite different experiences for me.
The 2004 diwali was a solo affair with no one around. I was alone in Gurgaon - not having my roomie and office-friends with me for the occasion. All of them had gone to their homes and I was working hard for CAT. The day went on with some sweets from neighbours, some quant problems, some newspaper articles, some tv programmes and some phone calls. A different day.
For the 2005 diwali, Gurgaon was different for me. My entire neighbourhood was full of friends, some known houses, all reasons to celebrate in Gurgaon itself. But 10 months away from home was a bit tough and I went to Chennai for the festival. Home after 10 months is really a sweet home. Lots of sweets, lots of idlis, litres of sambhar, loads of relatives and friends. A lovely day.
This time, it was at XLRI. As usual in XL, I got bowled over by the aura of 'XL culture'. The day was a usual one as is for a festival day. We got invitations from two faculty members to visit their houses in the evening. We were ready and neat with our new clothes for the evening. We started with those who invited us and started barging (we thought that way initially) into other faculties houses to wish them. We were astonished to see the hospitality and the amount of effort not one, not two but almost every faculty who stayed on campus showed. We wondered whether these are the same ones who extract so much work out of us during the courses. Of course, they knew their roles exquisitely and as in teaching they were exceptional in their hospitality too - one step better, I would say. We had everything from Ghee Idli, Lemon rice, Indian noodles, Coconut burfi, Kaju kathli, Kesari, ghajar halwa, rava laddoo, biscuits, dahi vada, veg roll, gulab jamun, motichur laddu and many more whose names I don't know.
Back to hostel we started playing with crackers which went on till 12. 22nd being my birthday, people started playing crackers on my back. I would have got about 30-40 tender(!) blows on my butt, I lost count as that part of the body was numb after the initial blows. Some with Nike, some with reebok, adidas, woodlands, plain old bathroom chappals - got everything.
It's time to give back the favour. I have some 'not-so-black' mischiefs waiting for my 'No.1' friends!!