We are halfway through yet another vibrant Navarathri season in our town. Armed with spreadsheets that catalogue our golu invites, which is further cross-referenced by whatsapp and text reminders, we Desi women have been marching out early each day this past week with a single-minded determination to conquer the invitation list at least this year. Everyone knows that it is a losing game because 18 golu visits a day is just outside of insane city, but we do have fun trying. Amidst the many joys of the season, one ailment continues to plague the golu-hoppers of our town this year too – severe gas trouble. Obviously, our intestines are not meant to process peanut, garbanzo, vatana, moong and green pea lentils, all in the same evening but when offered with so much love at each golu, what can one do except eat and burp? Sometimes you just have to take one for a friend. It is not a big problem for me though. Just to avoid this kind of rude shock to my system, I try to stay bloated through the entire year but for the general population who are on a strict ‘air and water only’ diet, suddenly turning into a birthday balloon must be very scary. Well, here is how I handled it recently. After the 4th plate of sundal one evening early this week, I found myself at a risk of exploding. Hyperventilation induced by the stress of an impending wardrobe malfunction actually saved the day. Who knew that taking shallow breaths would help to keep your blouse from popping its buttons! Thanks to my recent India trip, I am going around town this Navarathri season in bright-colored sarees and completely mismatched blouses. Apparently, contrast is all the rage these days. This new fashion is a god-send because none of the matching blouses fit me anymore. Trying to go with the latest fashion hurt me in the accessories department though. Heeding to the advice of many well-meaning friends, I took a beautiful, embroidered bag with me on the golu rounds 2 days ago instead of my regular plain black handbag. It looked great. Everyone said so but big mistake! That miniscule, cute bag could fit only 3 almonds, half of a phone and 1 clementine. Where am I supposed to keep my key bunch, sunglasses, wallet, tissues, emergency biscuit packet, trail mix snack packet, water bottle and travel size advil? My black handbag might not be great to look at, I admit, but it can house the entire universe, if necessary.Fashion, my foot! I saw planning at its best when I saw a friend bringing 2 big sack-like cloth bags with her to cart back all the tambulam bags of the evening. Wow! If she ever wanted to rob the US Treasury of all its gold, these 2 bags should do the trick. Very smart indeed. Inspired by her, I put a couple of cardboard boxes in my van to hoard my collections. A bit unsophisticated yes but it served its purpose. One thing that was new this season was that golu hostesses decided to liven up their golus by offering interesting quizzes to the visitors. What is the new doll in our golu this year?Can you tell what this sweet is made of? As someone with a very diminished sense of smell and a non-existent memory, I am set up for failure in these kinds of exams. Luckily, only a few threatened to hold back their sundal for not giving correct answers. Most of the hostesses were kind enough to give me my consolation goody bag just for participation. This Navarathri season has seen some of the most imaginative carpool arrangements ever arranged by anyone. 2 days ago, I overheard a conversation while waiting for my cup of payasam at a golu. Anu and Geetha were planning to pick up Latha, hit Kamala’s golu, then go pick up Sudha.Then all were to go hit 5 houses together after which Geetha had plans to swap to another van to continue her round of golus with another set of friends and then wanted Anu to pick her up at Bhavani’s house to go to the next 7 houses on their common list. NASA should take pointers from this group for the next space mission. Brilliant minds such as these are being overlooked everyday. How is your Navarathri going so far?