Yes, the picture above is from an 'ordinary' Holi, as ordinary as things can get in my alma mater, REC Kurukshetra (Yeah, yeah now known as NIT Kurukshetra for all you nit-pickers). It's 10:15 in the morning and I am at my laptop reminiscing about how coated in mud I would have been by now had this been any one of the 4 awesome Holi celebrations that I had participated in during the course of my engineering. The swamp things that are seen in the picture are actually a random selection of friends and acquaintances on the boy's hostel grounds, midway through the Holi madness, soon after which I am sure the cameraman must have been dunked in the mud too.
I can already see a few faces go "Eww", "Yuck" as they read this but mud based Holi was the most natural and healthy Holi possible. No artificial chemical dye based powders and colours involved, besides the fact we were students always in a state of bankruptcy so this was the only budget friendly way of doing things. Hook up a pipe from the ground-floor bathroom of B-block, scuff up the earth a little bit before allowing the water to flow into the ground which normally was for hostel cricket only. As the mud began to form, the first few lunatic volunteers would themselves take a plunge into it but this was not the fun part of the celebrations. The real enthusiasm was reserved for those who were in any way unwilling to participate in this annual cleansing ritual. Hostel room doors would be broken down if some information of a popular hideaway inside was confirmed, and then kicking and screaming, with a splash would go in our latest capture. So would any unsuspecting soul who may have wandered into the common room on the day of Holi and was vehemently claiming that he thought watching a cricket match was more fun than rolling in the mud like pigs.
Everyone knew that wearing anything but an sacrificable T-shirt and old pants was madness on the day of Holi inside a RECK hostel. In the rough and tumble style of Kurukshetra Holi, sooner rather than later there'd be a loud "Rippppppppppppp". Oops! That was the beginning of the end of our poor mud soaked clothes. The eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth way of life would swing into operation and soon there would be no T-shirt left intact on any shoulder. Soon the mud Olympics would be on with freestyle sliding and team gymnastics on the slippery, slithery skating rink that our erstwhile hostel cricket ground had become. Dog tired as the first spring sun shone down brightly on our wheezing lot, we would lie prostate on the same mud and water and catch our breath. By lunchtime, 300 odd guys would hit the hostel bathrooms to get back to their non mud-caked avatars and the spectacular amounts of mud that would line the bathroom floors made all of us pity the cleaners who surely would have cursed us into hell many times over.
Holi was a special day in Kurukshetra, I should say an especially special day in Kurukshetra because all days in Kurukshetra were special. I remember Holi in first year, when despite having flunked in a subject like some others of my batch (The first semester results had been declared the day before and my assassin's name was Physics-1) Holi pulled us out of our gloom. We were moping about with a dejected look on our face when we saw a couple of guys sneak towards the bathroom a bucket of muddy water in hand where one of our more disciplined friends was just finishing his daily normal non 'Holi'day bath towelling himself dry. Then a splash; howls of loud laughter; a string of angry, even louder, non-repeatable swear words and all of us with a sudden smile creeping across our face shouting "Holi hai, bhai... Holi hai!!"