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   It is one thing to play 'Holi', another thing to remove the colours of 'Holi' from your body and face. (March 3, 1999)

So, this morning, I went to office looking like a Bennetton shop window. The taxi driver told me: "It is always difficult to take off all the 'Holi' colours. What you do is get a little petrol, any petrol station will give you a little free, they always have some left behind in their pump. Take a piece of cotton wool and rub the petrol wherever the colour is not coming off."

The liftman at the office, who is a religious man and has built a little altar within the lift, said: "Saab, to remove the colours, you will have to use a little water of the Ganga, or, if you cannot get 'Ganga jal', then some water from Krishna."

By this time, we had reached my floor, so I got out, after giving the liftman the usual rupee to buy some flowers and put at his altar. The receptionist said: "Look at you, look at you, as it is you are scruffy, but today..! Get some coffee powder from the kitchen, not instant coffee, and with a wet handkerchief rub it into the paint in your face. It is guaranteed to remove the paint."

My colleague, who occupies the desk next to mine, said: "You have got to fight chemicals with chemicals. These days they use so many chemicals in the 'Holi' colours, that to remove the colours you have to use more chemicals. Make a mixture of sodium nitrate and ammonia sulphide, two portions to one portion, and add some 2KCLO3. Drink it with orange juice."

"Sounds dangerous," I said.

"Not half as dangerous as the chemicals you have been playing with," he replied.

The peon, who brought the tea, said: "Saab, Holi khelun aala kai! Phar changla." He told me that his old mother had a home remedy for removing the colours. He would bring it from her tomorrow, till then I would have to go about with the colours on me."

A visitor, who dropped in, advised: "Take some 'choona' that these people use in their 'paan', and apply it vigorously into your skin. The colours won't come off, but the skin will. And the new skin that replaces it after some time will be clean."

The peon said he had stopped using 'choona' in his 'paan'. Bad for health. Just then the chief called me into his cabin. He was furious. "Are you working in an office or a circus, coming here painted like a clown! Other people also play 'Holi', including the prime minister, they don't go to parliament looking like you the next morning."

So I went home and told the wife: "Several remedies have been suggested to remove these 'Holi' colours. Let me try them one by one."

The wife said: "If you had listened to me and had a bath in the morning, like all decent people, your paint would have been washed away. But you were feeling too lazy to have a bath."

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