My meeting ended at 7:15; by the time I got back to the office, nearly everyone had left. Two of the youngest members of the team were still there, as was one of the most senior. I was too late — I had missed the office Holi celebration.
March 22 is Holi, a holiday I’ll write more about after I’ve experienced it. The best-known Holi tradition is Dhulhendi, in which people throw colored liquid and powders on each other. My coworkers were about to introduce me to another tradition.
“Have a sweet, Dave!” said Young Coworker #1, handing me the box. This wasn’t unusual — sweets are usually passed out the day before a holiday. Inside the box were orange balls slightly smaller than eggs. I picked a bite-sized piece off one of the balls and continued to my desk.
“No, Dave,” said the coworker, grinning far too broadly to be trusted. “Eat the treat in the middle!”
I looked in the box. Revealed under the chunk I had picked off was a shiny black center, a lima bean-sized lump of something.
Young Coworker #2 pressed his way over. “Make sure you eat that part, Dave!”
So I did. It was bitter.
My Senior Colleague was amused. He almost looked proud. “That’s bhang,” he told me after I finished chewing — a kind of cannabis of uncertain (to me) legal status. A Holi tradition, Senior Colleague assured me. “You should have four to make sure you have a really good evening.”
I only had two. But I brought one home for Jenny as well.
They worked as advertised.