Thursday, October 14, 2010

Puja 2010

It’s that time of the year again when you curse the day you left home. “Was it really worth it?” Leaving friends and family behind....for bigger homes, better roads and a so called “work-life balance”. Where is the “life” without friends and family? Where is the life when you eat oats for breakfast and yearn for the luchi-aloo dum that’s being served in the puja mandap back home? Where is the life when you take the same route to work on Ashtami morning, remembering how you pandal-hopped in new shoes that gave you shoe-bites the size of craters?

All you can do is call up friends, who will be kind enough not to ask “So, what plans for puja?" The kinder ones will not talk at all...will just let you inhale the sound of dhaak and kasha in the background and imagine the whiff of the sandhya arati...that fascinating mix of flowers and dhoop and ghee and prayers.

Or perhaps you can download a dhaak beat as a ringtone. Each time the phone rings, your heart misses a beat. But it’s always the mower or the doctor’s receptionist or a credit card seller. It’s never the people you want to be with....because everyone back home is too busy with festivities. You can call your mother at the usual time...Saturday morning. But the phone rings away. She must be at the puja mandap, cutting fruits with the other kakimas and talking about her favourite article on the Puja Barshiki of Desh. And suddenly, you can see Baba....closely inspecting the caterers at work and instructing that the beguni better be crisp and warm when the afternoon bhog is served.

Confused, disoriented and totally out of place, you take resort in Facebook. Status messages range from “Bolo bolo Durga Ma” to “Ya devi sarva bhooteshu”. You smile at the para youngsters chatting about their dance and natak rehearsals. Weren’t you one of them not so long back? Weren’t you awake all night before your performance, practising your lines in your mind and thinking of the make-up man and the costume-designer, who could turn you into Sita, or a tree or a soldier or a princess or a monkey with their magic wand? Weren’t you in the best of behaviour a month before puja, just so that Ma would let you wear her favourite saree for a dance drama?

Nostalgia makes you sick to the core. But the launch of the new website means that you need to be at work. Vivid before your eyes is the scene of the kakimas in red-bordered white sarees, betel-leaf in hand, smearing Ma Durga with vermilion. But all you can do is munch that cheese-and-lettuce sandwich and talk about the Commonwealth Games with your colleagues at lunch. And when voices saying “Asche bochor abar hobey” float into your ears from distant lands across the seas, you cannot hold back the tears anymore. Blaming it on hay fever, you excuse yourself from the lunch gathering. Because it's almost impossible to express how it feels to miss home during durga puja. You tried to explain to some... “It’s like our 5-day long Christmas”. But you knew that wasn't even close.

And so you go for a walk by the river, close to your office building. Where there are some flowers that will pass as kash phool...and some waves that remind you of the Ganges on the night of bishorjon.


The Ketchup Girl said...

Cnt add a word to this . Vivid, precise and immaculately describes my day too.. And perhaps a hundred other's . Hug scribbler, big hugs.

Madmax said...

Tuli .. This is probably your second best poignant piece. Funny, the way we probashis yearn to go to the off-shore Puja mondop and then feel sad. It's almost a case of sadism ... it's as if we NEED to go to the place to hurt ourselves more ... by missing the one (the puja and the folks / friends) at home ... I went to the one that they have here yesterday night .. ek muhurter jonnow bhalo laage ni .. things are so hygenic, antiseptic ... the chaos was missing, the noise was missing, the fun was missing ... even the warmth was missing.

Sad. But true.

Scribbler :) said...

@ KG - Feel miserable today. Have been crying all morning :( Hugs to you too.

@Madmax - Yes, it's not just the pujo we miss...we miss that warmth...that noise of loudspeakers playing the latest hits...that laughter in the air :(

Treenz said...

New visitor to your blog.Excellent write up. I hear you and silently agree. Pujo is never going to be the same as back home.

Scribbler :) said...

@ Treenz - Thanks for dropping by :) Read your pujo post as well. Very different from mine...much better, because yours is happy and positive.

PreeOccupied said...

I felt a jab reading this...beautifully written.

Scribbler :) said...

Thanks for dropping by, Pree. Loved your blog too. I am useless in the kitchen and therefore have great respect for those who can create magic in there :)

Debanjana said...

Subho Bijoya-i boli..hugs

Patricia Torres said...

Oh my!! You've got a lovely blog... and a very very gorgeous way of putting your thoughts into words.. Very well written!!