A personal note on celebrating Independence Day, what it means to us, and drinking beer on holidays.
15 Aug 2016. We have just celebrated our 118 years of independence last June; our lasting friendship with Uncle Sam last July 4th. Yesterday, I saw a lot of people, friends on social media raising our collective middle finger to Lim-A-Hong and his adventures in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea. While some people took the news as enough reason to go out on the streets and celebrate, I couldn’t bring myself up to join them in their online ranting; as if keeping myself on the sidelines saying “we’re just pissing in the wind”. And despite the decision clearly going to our favor, I see it this way: the jury finally announced that you actually won the grand prize, but the other guy already took it, ate it, slept with it, some five years ago.
Still, I hope the new government have a clear plan on what to do next. And I hope it’s not some cop-out B-movie plan I grow up watching on TV because in reality, no plot armor could save us. I’m not expecting us to take back what was ours; neither I expect us to get into something we clearly aren’t prepared for and capable of. War should be the last thing on our list. (Or maybe it shouldn’t be there at all.)
But this is about the 12th of June, as it is about the 15th of August, the celebration of Indian Independence from the British Empire. This I learned about, only this morning, when I saw my colleagues from India, all dressed up, like there was something really special. I was just planning to greet them casually, like “Hey, Happy Independence Day!” but one offered a hand and so I end up greeting them one by one and shake hands with each one of them. Not that I have anything against shaking hands, I just thought that it would be too formal. Then I ask them, how many years of independence and someone answered 70 years. And from them I saw that it’s something really important. That today isn’t just another holiday back home. That they appreciated my simple gesture—I felt it when I shook their hands. And it surprised me. Because we never really took June 12th seriously. We never get together to celebrate it back home nor when we’re away from home. We only see it as a holiday. Which is probably why I’m not entirely sold on the idea of many people clamoring for change online. I see it more like a knee-jerk reaction, more like out of anger or frustrations with all the shit that’s happening everyday and with the previous administration.
But let’s go back to my well-dressed friends. After I greeted them I asked, “Is Independence Day also a Dry Day?” they said yes and everyone burst into laughter.
Dry Days are specific days when the sale of alcohol is not permitted. Most of the Indian states observe these days on major national festivals or occasions.