A woman with the potential to make it big. It is not that she cannot: she simply will not.
The closest anyone has come to being an adopted daughter.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

My Durga Puja, 2015

I am agnostic to Durga Puja. I am not exactly opposed to it, but I believe in living and letting live. As long as Durga Puja (the first phrase I came across in my life that was abbreviated to DP, courtesy: Presidency College days) lets me live on my own, I do not have an issue with others celebrating. I can tolerate the stench of chilli sauce and stale noodles in the air for four days. It is infinitely more tolerable than the Diwali noise-pollution and people forcing you to play Holi.

But this is not about me. Neither is it about Durga Puja. It is about Dussehra, the festival where Raavan is felled: Raavan, of great valour, of ten heads (is the torso under the fifth head or the sixth?), of near-unmatched sexual prowess, of unflinching dedication to Shiva, of great musical talent — a man who simply chose to kidnap the wrong woman to avenge his wounded nymphomaniac of a sister.

But this is not about Raavan. This is about Dussehra, a festival not as big as Diwali or Holi in Mumbai, but popular nevertheless. Women (and even men) of Mumbai celebrate Navratri in colour-coded attire, one for every day.

Note: This is a remarkable phenomenon, the Navratri colour codes. This year, for example, the colours were red, navy blue, yellow, green, grey, orange, white, pink, sky blue, and purple in that order for the ten days from Pratipad to Dasami. This time there were two Pratipads and a single day for Navami and Dasami, but there were ten days nevertheless. You get the basic idea. If you do not, check this photograph from DNA.

This was Dussehra. Navi Mumbai had shut down completely (the term is subjective: a completely shut Navi Mumbai afternoon is comparable to a fully functional Kolkata afternoon). I made my way through the Vashi Station subway and found the underground passage uncharacteristically empty.

Holidays are supposed to be like that, unless you are in a media organisation.

More so if you are into sport, which knows no time.

More so if India plays South Africa at home, trailing the series 1-2 with two matches to play.

Yeah, that sums it up all right.

But no, I am digressing. I left for work an hour before the match started. I passed the railway station, walking in the sultry yet tolerable October sun of Navi Mumbai.

I almost passed the mall that has the words INOX sprawled over the top floor in humongous dark blue font.

And then I saw them. Or rather, they saw me.

A boy and a girl, in her high teens; or maybe in their low twenties.

They were not from well-to-do families. It was evident.

They were clearly out on a date on a Dussehra afternoon.

Maybe she was from a conservative family. Maybe it had taken him a lot of coaxing to sneak her out on Dussehra. Maybe she had lied that she was going out with female friends.

You know when it happens. You can tell it from their faces.

He, the emperor of the world, now that he has her by his side.

She, the empress of the world, having granted him a wish after being wooed for so long.

They, the first family of the world, for there was joy in their eyes. Their fingers were not interlinked, but the glint in the eyes was unmistakable.

I was in a hurry. So were they.

They asked me where CineMAX was. I was about to ask them to check their smartphones, but realised they did not have any.

Affordability had to do with it, but I loved to believe there was more: they were too immersed in themselves to not care about communication with the world.

I gave them vague directions using my phone. She looked back, confusion in her eyes, before looking at him. He was confused as well, but there was a smile of assurance in his eyes.

I showed him the direction on my phone. This time he understood, smiled, thanked me, and looked around for transport.

The awe in her eyes for him is a spectacle that would be with me for an eternity.

No, he could not afford to buy INOX tickets on a holiday. I knew that much. CineMAX was the inexpensive alternative.

It was the closest I came to offering a couple INOX tickets. Why not do something good for a change?

But then, it seemed so futile — for I could hardly add to his seemingly inexhaustible riches.

Kings, unlike us, do not ask for alms.

And for those few moments, that Navi Mumbai Dussehra became a Kolkata February, transcending boundaries of space and time.

And I lived my Durga Puja.


  1. Excellent Avida. Kurosawa r "One Wonderful Sunday" mone pore gelo.

  2. This is so well written and heartfelt that I could feel and understand exactly what you are talking about. Darun!

  3. hmm!! tomar ekta onyo dhoroner lekha bolte hobe!! sei juktipurno, practical noi - full of emotions!!

  4. That was beautiful. And sentimental. And very, very unexpected of an incorrigible troll like you.

    1. I am *not* an incorrigible troll. Or any kind of troll, for that matter. X(

  5. Eirom koto ghotona amader sathe pray roj hoy....bhabai jayna j byapar guloke eibhabeo bhaba jay :) ... Tumii paro .....

  6. We actually manage to live away from home through these kind of incidents, few in number but plentiful in itself ... Monta bhalo hoye gaelo ... Wish I could visualise clearly the awe in the girl's eyes ( I did see but not clearly though I think I still am feeling that warmth ) ... Thank you for penning this down

  7. February comes to kolkata every winter,but for you it is lost.Lost forever. You have so many such observations to share,not about yourself but such subjective experiences that link one human with another,interconnect all of us. Yet you share so little,as if you'll end up giving yourself away. As if you'll betray your deep,profound self.
    You'll remember the stale of chowmein but will not put it into words. Though you can,and often,make me go back to my own childhood,you'll write pretentiously and declare first what your post is Not about. You'll digress before coming to the point. You'll barricade your memory and not let your words flow uninhibited.
    I envy the innocence these kids have. You love them for it. I hate that they'd be robbed of it. Time will taint their love too. And they'll be left with nothing but nostalgia.
    Can I ask you something? Is anybody really happy in life? Isn't nostalgia to much to take?

    1. I did not get everything you said, but then, I have never met anyone who says he or she is happy.

  8. Can you write naturally,haan?

  9. Lovely post, sir. Enough said.

  10. You miss your childhood much? More than being an adult,having money to spend and deciding for yourself?
    I'm happy that I have grown and cannot be taken for granted anymore. I don't miss that innocence either.

    1. I do not exactly miss my childhood.

      I miss my innocence. I miss believing that the world is a good place. I miss hope.

  11. here is one incident related to this festival i still remember, Most people prefer to visit the pandals with friends during day and the night is reserved for trips with family members. They don't bother about visiting the same place twice. I have seen my friends visiting the same pandal 3 times just to satisfy 3 sets of people. I still love durga puja pandals here are some latest 2018 maa durga pandals:- kolkata durga puja pandal 2018

  12. Durga Puja is not just about religion.
    It's a celebration of life. And an important part of social life.