It's that time of the year again when the sky sparkles with the shimmering embers of firecrackers, when houses are enveloped in the warm glow from lamps of all kinds. There's a distinct nip in the air that announces the arrival of Diwali.

You can always tell when it's coming. The days seem quieter. The nights seem darker, broken by the soft radiance from homes. There's a sense of excitement at the propect of the coming festival ( and of course, the holiday! ). You feel like spending time with family and friends. Everything seems cleaner and brighter. Even if, like me, you don't really relish the rituals, commercialization and overspending that festivals bring, Diwali is one that you probably look forward to.

I do hate the pollution caused by all the crackers, all the rubbish left on the streets and in grounds all over, the loads of money, literally, going up in smoke and most of all, the sense of anti-climax the next day, when its all over.

This time, for the first time, I'm going to be spending Diwali away from home. Without my family and friends. It's kind of depressing. I miss being forced to take part in the customary cleaning at home, grudgingly help my sister out with rangoli and waiting eagerly to find out what sweets have been bought this time.

Though I'm still better off than some. I've got my relatives who can fill some of the void. I feel sorry for the people who have no one at all to be with this holiday.

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