It’s been a far better pujo than I had hoped for: indeed, the best in more years than I can remember.
First of all, the weather helped. It was rainy all through, even with the occasional chill, interrupted only now and then by muggy patches. Then, the luxury of sleeping whenever you like, as much as you like, without being bound to a routine, and with family around you. Going around the city just once before my wife was convinced that staying at home and watching pujo on television would be a far better idea. And then having our own pujo downstairs... all the fun and colour and gaiety you want, with the added assurance that you could slip off unnoticed to the peace and quiet of your own flat anytime things got too much for you, either by way of fanfare or boredom. Saw the contemporary urban Bengali middle class at its best and worst: all the bonhomie and cattiness, all the friendly conversation and backstabbing, all the cultural wealth and crass parvenu ostentation (everyone from the auto driver to the doc brandishing smartphones – diamond jewellery is better to look at, at least!), all the obsession with rabindrasangeet that no one cares to reflect upon and ‘cool’ distortion of the mother tongue, all the gourmandizing, the drunken dancing and faux-respectful distancing of elders from such display of ‘oposanskriti’... I took in a fun Bangla movie in between, and read up a bit of a new biography of Babur, and watched the gorgeous skyline of nights, and shubho Bijoya has arrived in the wink of an eye.
Made some nice acquaintances, too, aged between barely thirty and eighty. Our housing estate has a rather diverse collection of residents, many of them absentee owners who live elsewhere in India or abroad, but gather here for the pujo. This is the first time I was staying here for some length of time on a festive occasion, and it didn’t take long to be found out – ‘Aren’t you Suvro Sir? My son used to be your pupil many years ago...’ and bang goes my hope of coming and going incognito. And a lot of them told me to come over and open up shop in Calcutta. Which is where it all started, three decades ago! If only I were twenty five again, or at least had money enough to go haring off on another adventure...
For a few photos, click here.