Nitali and Nihir are traveling to Mumbai to spend time with Nana and Nani [maternal grandfather and gradmother].
Ba shares her memories of growing up Mumbai, and of how beautiful it looks during Diwali, almost like celebrating Christmas in October.
She said “There are lights and Kandeels [color paper lanterns] of all colors as far as the eye can see. Homes are decorated with torans [ garland] of genda phool [marigold] and mango leaves. Mithai [sweet] shops are overflowing with jalebi [coil of fried batter steeped in sugar syrup], kesar pedas [ saffron flavored solid milk rounds], chocolate barfi and coconut barfis [square coconut and solid milk sweet]. People are bustling around shopping for mithai, clothes, fire crackers and boxes of nuts and raisins . Not to miss the Diwali music blaring from the loud speakers.”
Nana and Nani bring Nihir and Nitali to their home in Shivaji Park, a park named after an Indian King, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. There is a rangoli inviting them into the home.
It was exactly as mom described with the mithai shops, the kandeels and the people
After a hot breakfast of theplas, they rush down to go to the Park. They are amazed to see the multitude of children dressed in all white playing cricket and some others kicking the ball around.
Nana [maternal grandfather] asks “Did you know that Shivaji Park Maidan is the birthplace of cricketeers like Sachin Tendulkar. He got coached on these grounds and rose to international fame.” Nitali and Nihir reply distractedly “yes, yes…” and run to join the kids playing football.
In the evening, it is time to go to the Shivaji Park maidan[ field] for the Ram Leela, the Durga Puja mela [fair/carnival], and the exhibit of the Koh-i-Nur diamond at the Scout hall in the Maidan.
Nihir and Nitali had been to carnivals with different rides like the ferris wheel, merry go round, carousel, and games like burst the balloon, and ring the bottle.
This was different. The flame eater caught their attention Neither of them had ever seen a flame eater. Nitali asked ” Can he burn his mouth? “. Nani replied “Unlikely, there must some trick to this.”
There many stalls of chaat, frankie, bata vada and such. In that crowd, a man catches Nihir’s eye. The man has a thick mustache, curved upwards at the tips, he appeared shifty and had a sword on his waist. Walking with him, was a nervous appearing woman with a patch on one of her eyes. He nudges Nitali in their direction and whispers softy to her to check them out.
Nitali looks out of the corner of her eye while pretending to be mesmerized by the snake charmer. She was astonished to see a sword!
Photo by Egor Kamelev on Pexels.com
They reach the Scout Hall where there is a huge crowd waiting got enter to have a glimpse of the famous Koh-i-Nur. This is the first time time that the diamond has travelled out of the UK. Suddenly, Nitali glimpses the man Nihir had previously pointed out to her. She presses Nihir’s hand to get his attention. At the same time, the couple rushes past them into the heavily guarded exhibit area.
Nitali and Nihir are pulled by Nana and Nani to go into a special VIPs only line for the diamond viewing. The guide is sharing the history of the Koh-i-Nur diamond and the couple disappears from sight.
Nihir and Nitali are now viewing the crown with the diamond and are amazed by the size beauty of it. The history narrated by the guide is equally fascinating. As they move on to see the picture of Queen Alexandra with the diamond in her crown, the room turns pitch dark and the emergency alarm goes off. People are running helter skelter.
Nihir wonders if it is a terrorist attack, Nitali is too scared to think. Soon enough, the back -up generator comes on,Nihir and Nitali gasp, the diamond is gone! Now it is there and now it is gone…
As they stare open mouthed, they are shoved aside roughly by the strange couple they had noticed earlier.In the chaos, they get separated from their Nana and Nani.
Outside the Scout Hall, police cars and policemen are in a frenzy. It is time for burning the effigy of Ravan, and thousands of people have gathered to see that with many children hoisted on parents shoulders. Music and dialogues are blaring from the Ram Leela stage. No announcements can be heard and the Hall is in lockdown mode.
To be continued……