Halloween is four days away, and urban India has already begun preparing for the house parties and club nights they’ll be spooking around at. Before you know it, pictures of witches in little black dresses, vampires sporting drawn-on fangs, and Heath Ledger-inspired Jokers will be flooding your timeline.
When you think of it, Halloween is one of the few things we have borrowed from the West that we have not managed to Indianise. At Bayside, we believe that everything deserves a desi twist. Here’s a list of things that frighten Indians, which you can use as ideas for costumes and house accessories! Ditch the regular ideas, because we’re sure that these suggestions will give your friends nightmares for days.
1. Mummy ka Belan
Wear some brown clothes, throw on some atta, and fling yourself at your siblings and cousins who misbehave. If your mother has ever used a rolling pin or comb or broom the way Thor uses his hammer, you’ll know what we’re talking about! The belan is all-purpose, because it can be used for something as simple as forgetting to get dhaniya, to life-changing tragedies like scoring 80% on an exam. Sometimes, even the sight of the belan is enough to convince us to do work.
Indians aren’t afraid of love. Rejection, sure. Being single, of course. But not of loving another person, unless we’re forced to. We’re not even talking about the pressure of serving chai or talking about your salary and career (those are another level of scary). We mean those polite inquiries about your age and relationship status from nosy relatives, who always have an Excel sheet full of potential rishtas ready for you.
To perfect this outfit, put on your most sanskari pair of clothes, add a few white streaks to your hair, and go around asking all the single people, “Toh beta, shaadi ka kuch socha hai?”
3. Sharma Ji ka Beta
Put on a pair of pants really high up your waist, part your well-oiled hair, tuck in that white shirt, and say “Namaste” all through the party. Your props include certificates from IIT, IIM, and AIIMS in one hand, and a box of laddoos in the other. Keep reminding people about how you’re better than them. Sharma ji ka beta is every school-going and college-going kid’s biggest enemy. You might lose all your friends, but hey, you’ll have nailed the outfit!
There are some people who are afraid of beggars, and then there are those who are petrified of them when they are on their way to an expensive meal in a fancy restaurant. Beggars asking for 10 rupees can be a real threat to your conscience when you know you have a few thousand rupee notes in your wallet. Dress up in ripped jeans and an overused t-shirt, and walk up to the people drinking the most expensive liquor and eating the most overpriced food. Fake a few tears and ask for a vada pav.
If you’re having a house party and you think pumpkins and skulls are mainstream decorations, you’ll appreciate this suggestion. Taxes and understanding taxes are a headache for most Indians. Just paste pages of tax filing notices on all the walls. To take this to the next level, you can ask a bunch of your friends to dress up as tax inspectors and scream “Audit chaalu hai” every few hours.
6. Official Sarkari Work
This is the cheapest idea on the list. Whether you’re applying for documents or getting other minor work done, just the thought of walking into an old and dusty government office gives most Indians the jitters. Host a party, and every time someone asks for food, a drink, or the way to the bathroom, demand chai-paani.
7. Neighbourhood Aunties
This costume is great if you want to try trick or treating in India, though, to be honest you’ll only be tricking people. Hide in the corners of streets and surprise young people in your neighbourhood by asking them questions about girlfriends/boyfriends, their marks, and their jobs. Apart from the quintessential salwar kameez or maxi, you could also put on a Pinocchio-style nose, considering how much neighbourhood aunties enjoy poking their noses into other people’s lives.
If you think we’re asking you to dress up as raging bulls, you’re mistaken. Use those devil horns from last year’s Halloween party, but add a tail and a calm expression to the costume. You can also wear a garland and some kumkum on your forehead (this might confuse people into thinking you look like Zeenat Aman from ‘Hare Krishna Hare Rama’). Udders optional.
Cows aren’t really scary by themselves; what makes them frightening is the god-like status we give them. We wouldn’t wish eating/running over/harming a cow on any soul in this country.
9. Absence of the Kaamwali Bai
This is a costume idea for Halloween, but it’s great for a post-Diwali spook too! All you need to do is keep repeating the words “Madam, aaj main chhuti le rahi hu,” on loop. Nothing scares an Indian household like their help calling up to say she is not coming. We’re the same people who plan their entire daily and weekly schedules, meals, baths, and sleep cycle around the work timings of our bais. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the one day when they decide not to come becomes a national emergency.
Warning: Don’t be too convincing, otherwise you’ll be forced to scrub the clothes and do the dishes.