desi · random thoughts · story

Kolkata Durga Pujo – a different perspective

For those who dont understand Bengali, read the below, else skip this section please):
Jaano? = do you know?
Arrey, theek aachey = Tch Tch … its ok
Dhoor = expression of disgust, like Oh crap etc
Puchkas = Pani puris, golgappas, an amazing snack that is a hollow sphere, cracked at the top, filled with spicy potato etc and dipped in special pani puri water and gobbled. Has addictive side effects followed by risk of stomach upsets unless you pop Pepto Bismol pills before bed.
Prosad = after prayers, food given as gift of god. Usually consists of mixed fruits and sweets.
Cholo = come, lets go

BOMB (Bengali old man, Basu): Dibyaduti (pronounced Dibboduthy) was a self styled rebel, jaano? Anything, anybody did, he didn’t want to do that. He had to be different from the normal, a tangent to the normal, from a geometric perspective, if you see what I mean.

OWL (Old woman, Lopa): Bappi (nick name of Dibboduthy) is in Teckshaas (Texas) for a very long time. Why do you suddenly remember him now?

BOMB: Arrey, he is our son. Not remembering him, maaney? This is Durga Pujo – Thakur Maa is home, when else will I remember Bappi. He didn’t even call us yet. Just wired us some more money for organizing the community pujos. Dhoor!

OWL: Arrey, theek aachey, he is a good boy with values. Even today, he does listen to Robindroshongit and reads Bengali books. His son also knows about Aurobindo, Netaji and all the other illustrious Bangaalis including Raja Ram Mohan Roy. They have not forgotten our roots.

BOMB: As a little boy, he used to hate the crowds. Remember, how we walked from Tollygunge Metro station all the way to Bhowanipore and did pandal hopping. He hated the crowds. The only things he liked then were the giant wheel at Deshapriyo Park and shooting balloons with those long rifles or air guns or whatever these people call them. Of course the puchkas and other junk food.

OWL: The next day, he couldn’t even eat prosad because of his stomach upset.

BOMB: Of course, he then began to have friends and god knows where all they used to roam around the entire night. Pujos is absolutely fantastic with all those lightings and brilliant designs of pandals. Why is he not coming home for the Pujos even after missing the last 12 years?

OWL: Arrey baaba, relax. He is a busy man and cannot visit us at this time of the year. Cholo, lets go inside. Dutta babu, Bulbul di, Babloo and Tuki are coming home. I have asked Narayon to be ready with rosogollas.

In a parallel world at Texas, Dibyaduti Basu (new nickname Dib) is telling his wife the same things he tells her every Pujas:
“Alice, how I wish I was at home now, in Kolkata. How I wish I were there for the school reunion at Maddox Square Garden on the 26th at 3 pm. My friends, my schoolmates, my old crushes, they will all be there. They would have grown older by 20 years but it is so awesome that they are still able to be where we were at least during the grandest time of the year in Calcutta. I hated the crowds during the Pujas back then. But wow, what a grand assortment of colors it used to be. The whole city would come together and celebrate the home coming of the Goddess. Everybody – rich or poor would wear new clothes, walk around, sing, dance and have a blast. Movie theatres would overflow and unlike any other time of the year, during the Pujas, Calcutta would go nocturnal. A million lights arranged in different patterns would brighten up the place. Brisk business everywhere and something for everybody of all ages, sizes, shapes, religions – it has to be seen to be believed. I have seen no other place like that in the world, actually”

Alice: Every year, for the last 12 years, you have said the same thing about what you did then. How you didn’t enjoy so much then but now miss it like mad. I have heard about the buffalo, demon, the pet lion of the Goddess, flanked by various gods and their pets or vehicles. I know, Dib, I know all that by heart. But now, you are also talking about long lost friends. Why don’t we go there next year at least, Dib? But, I must tell you wiki has a treasure of knowledge on Puja and hey, why don’t we go to Univ of Minnesota. That’s after all the only place to have Pujas within their campus!

Dib: Yeah, some day we should go there, Kolkata, I mean. I will then introduce you to all my school friends and maybe even the teachers. Meanwhile, I wish all my Kolkata friends a very very happy Pujos. Shubho Bijoya and see you next year with Alice and Bhuju (Bhuju is nick name of Dib Jr.)

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