Notes From Hairenik
July 11, 2010

Today was Vardavar, the pagan-turned-Christian holiday, which is celebrated by people drenching one another with buckets of water all day long.  Some kids are getting creative by using high-pressure water guns that shoot streams at a considerable distance.

Naturally I observed some of the hysteria from my front and rear balconies. The street were nearly void of pedestrians all day long, reminiscent of the small town run by bandits in Akira Kurosawa's "Yojimbo." Instead, for some reason the street was filled mostly with teenage, testosterone fueled boys and the courtyard was occupied by smaller children and girls in their teens. The sexually repressed, hyperactive guys were basically throwing water on cars passing by and at each other, while they for the most part completely ignored the girls walking along the sidewalk, their own buckets in hand. Everyone was getting their water from the same source--the fountain located on the street corner just under my balcony.

The guys who chose to drench actual people for some odd reason chose defenseless middle aged men who were walking to the store or parking their taxis. Naturally they weren't all that pleased and arguments ensued. But the guys, rather than backing off and apologizing, instead confronted the disgruntled older men, who were obviously in no mood to participate in the Vardavar festivities to begin with, in a stand off.  When drivers protested, the kids hurled their empty buckets and made hand gestures at the cars as they drove away.

So rather than having a fun afternoon, the adolescent boys used the opportunity to take out their aggression on hapless bystanders and essentially prove their relevance in the world, that they are self-entitled to do as they please. Meanwhile, the completely ignored girls are standing around, nervously waiting for the guys to chase after them. That rarely happened, which was surreal to say the least.  The younger boys, however, had no problem tossing water at the girls, which was certainly encouraging since it reflected normal, natural behaviour.

Whatever -- these are some photos that I managed to take, catching the kids in action.  I was not able to capture an actual soaking unfortunately, since it has proven to be extremely difficult. There was no way I was I about to take pictures at street level because I didn't want my $500 camera to get ruined, I'm rather fond of it. Plus, my wife forbade me to leave the house during the day so I wouldn't get drenched, not that I would have cared given that it was 100 degrees F, so long as my camera was left at home.

Vardavar is a weird holiday when you think about it. But the young kids especially have a lot of fun, and that's ultimately what counts.

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