Friday, September 30, 2005

It's that time of the year...

Come October and the posto-induced sentimental pangs of expatriate Bongs rise up like bile through the much-abused digestive systems and find expression. It's autumn once again and the ones unlucky enough to have not managed an annual 'veykeyshan" time laments about those times past.

Puja in Kolkata! Oh those first trucks that rumble in at night to every para carrying bamboo. The first signs in the immediate horizons of those superstructures. The maddening crowds at New Market, Gariahat and now Forum, Westside and the South Calcutta Bong's new-found obsession Pantaloons. The sunshine that's suddenly gentler, the clouds that are just there for the shade, not the rains. The unexpected holiday of the (now an) annual pre-Pujo strike that quietly reminds the Bong of the the atheistic meanderings of an otherwise power-worshipping race. The holiday calculations, the weekend additions that can transform a four day festival into a week-long fiesta and with some divine luck into a ten-day break. Oh how I long for Pujo in Kolkata.

My first sign of Pujo usually meant, my Mom embarked on a massive cleaning-up of the house and that meant the crockery, the curtains, the closets and all and everything in between. So I had to empty that bookshelf and do my bit of cleaning-up.

And then Shoshti! The lights will go on, the shanai will start playing at 9. But you have to go to work. Till I started working, the fun started started even before that. But once I had a visiting card, it meant that we meet first on Shoshti evening - after work. Usually at a friend's place. To chat, drink, eat, make plans, break plans, call up friends who have been too busy to meet round the year, include people who must join us, exclude people who should not, look up exotic eating places to try out. Of course, Tangra remains a constant and the Ffort is a recent addition. Oh yes, one very important thing...who picks up the booze for Ashtami and onwards.

And the fun was do the same all over again on Saptami. This is the Puja, right? You are not supposed to make plans to follow them. Ashtami, however, was a plan you had to follow. Bhog...a completely religious part of the festival to be followed by a session of alcohol-catalyzed adda. And if you are upto it, may be we can go out for dinner.

Navami and the withdrawal symptoms gently nudges you. Just two days left. Make the best of it. Dashami. Nimki khirkodombo. The end.

Well, inspite of everything you might say, I still believe Puja ends too abruptly. It does, it does.

But we have memories and no one can take it away from us. Unless you wish to share it all at Shundi. So write you wretched Bongs who cannot go to Kolkata during Pujo. Write, 'coz that's all you can do.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Story About Uran

Ok...I just called up the Admiral and here's the lowdown on Uran.

Every year the Admiral hosts a party on the 31st. It's a time when his old
freinds and relatives come down, so getting any one of the 6 rooms is out
out of the question. However, the Admiral sells invitations to the 31st
party. He says usually about 50-60 couples turn for the party which costs Rs
1000 per head. It includes snacks, drinks ("from champagne to cocoa/ovaltine
and everything in between") and breakfast on 1st morning. The bar is usually
open till 2-2.30 in the morning. Bookings for this party are easily
available. However, the Admiral insists that the party is a private affair
and he would like his 'guests' to behave, socialize and mingle. Otherwise he
reserves the right to evict the guests. After the party, the Admiral
arranges for some 'temporary sleeping arrangements under the shamiana".
Read: uncomfortable sleeping bags in the open. Not a good idea to bring in
the new year.

Well, it looks like a quaint South Mumbai party with an eccentric crowd.
Exotic, but most probably completely out-of-sync with our group. I can see
Dadu trying to grope some Parsi chick, Maity closing his eyes and trying to
sing Mirabai to the tune of 'Aung Lang Syne", Mac trying to find some
'pokito bondhu', Mota trying to convince the Admiral that he is a big 'bhul'
and cut to Uran harbour, 3 'o clock. The eight of us have been evicted from
Hotel Uran Plaza and we waiting for the first boat back to Mumbai, which
incidentally is at 8 'o clock. So what do you do till 8 'o clock. "Rahul
ekta bhul! Ekta bhul jayega book koreche!"

Guys! Let's look at alternatives, shall we?