Audio recording by Subitha Baghirathan: Divali at Felix Road Adventure Playground

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Diwali at Felix Road Adventure Playground  


The playground holds a bowl of noise  

An orchestra tuning up in the pit.  

Parents’ voices arpeggio  

Soprano to tenor  

Pre-schoolers on scooters  

Wheels grate the tarmac  

A gyroscope’s scale  

A hungry baby’s roar  

The passionate urgency of a trumpet.  

The DJ interrupts, releasing a Bhangra staccato from her decks  

The effect instantaneous  

Hands reach skywards  

Hips loosen  

Heads nod in affirmation.  

Suryan granted a boon: 

A shamiana of warmth and speedwell skies.  

Chins lift up  

Shoulders unclench  

In homage to the respite from October’s insidious rains  

Leeching colour and energy.  

A tamasha of aromas insists on attention:  

Dhal, pakora, biriani.  

A meal fit to welcome Sita and Rama back to Ayodyah  

Eaten modestly off disposable thalis for £2.50  

Priced for punkah-wallahs rather than courtiers.  

A history book of immigration to England opens its pages  

Within the playground walls.  

Bidden by the Bhangra beat, two boys dance:  

One in saffron turban, indigo kurta, pyjama trousers  

His Turkish friend tires of copying his moves 

Lured by the basketball hoop. 

Russian rises from a table of laughing, eating women  

Barricaded by pushchairs.  

The cooks in the kitchen wipe brows with chunnis  

Bangles tinkling as they roll pakoras in an inferno of oil.  

A line of petite Heidis wait in a proper English queue.  

Mandalas, oms and lotus flowers transforming their hands into living art by the Henna Lady  In skinny jeans, voluminous hoodie, immaculate weave,  

Unwavering focus.  

Without a single note of Auld Lang Syne sung  

The Hindu New Year is welcomed in.  


Subitha Baghirathan  

10th November, 2019.



Suryan: The Hindu sun god 

Shamiana: large ceremonial tent, similar to a marquee 

Tamasha: a fuss, commotion; a performance 

Punkah-wallahs: servants specifically in place to operate the large ceiling fans (punkahs) to  keep Europeans cool in their homes, during colonial times before electric fans were  available 

Chunni: a long scarf in thin material, often part of a matching salwar kameez set