Tag Archives: Kolkata

Durga Puja

Durga Puja (Worship of Durga) is the ultimate festival of the Bengali people. Although you cannot deny the religious nature of Durga Puja, it is as much a cultural and a social festival as it is a religious one; which explains my interest in it. Being an Atheist, it is the cultural part which draws me. It is my favourite festival of all time and is something I look forward to, all year, every year.

Durga Puja is celebrated in Autumn, on a date decided by the Hindu calendar, either in late September or early October. It coincides with the North Indian concept of Navratri, but unlike Navratri, we don’t punish ourselves by restricting our diets or eating vegetarian food. Unlike Navratri, Durga Puja is a time to meet people, feast like there’s no tomorrow & gorge on your favourite food, mostly meat.

Durga Puja
Durga, PC: Indiatimes

The Origins (For me)

My memory of the festival from when I was young is that I had no interest in leaving my house to go and see it. In fact, when I lived in Panchkula, one of the Puja committees even awarded me a prize (Set of Sherlock Holmes books, which I treasure to this day) for academic performance. I refused to attend and someone later brought it home for me.

The first time I remember attending a Durga Puja in earnest was when Ritwik Mandal took me to one in Nagpur. I remember he insisted that we have the puja lunch (bhog). They didn’t have cutlery; you were expected to eat rice with your hand. I was struggling and an elderly couple sitting next to us started making fun of me in Bengali, not knowing I could understand them. I took the higher ground and didn’t abuse them.

Slowly, as I attended more and more Pujas, my interest went up. I remember going to the Maddox Square puja once with my cousins when I was in Kolkata. We reached the venue well past midnight; still the atmosphere was electric. There were thousands of people there, chatting with family and friends. The smell of food being prepared wafted through the air. I hung out there for a few hours and headed home. I had not seen anything like it before.

Regular Patron

Eventually, I became a regular patron of Durga Puja, when I moved to Gurgaon and my parents moved there, too. My father had no interest in it, so me and my mother explored the city in search for new Pandals. After marriage, I drew my wife into the mix, too. Slowly we developed our favourite Pandals, although we would go Pandal-hopping to all the major ones in Gurgaon as well as Delhi. When our daughter was born, we got her hooked, too and we developed a predictable schedule.

  1. Few weeks before the start of the Pujas, we would go to Slice of Bengal in CR Park to begin our shopping. My wife and daughter would both get Bengali sarees and other clothing.
  2. We would attend the pre-Pujo fest at the Chittaranjan Park Bangiya Samaj.
  3. On day 5, we would go to the Pandal at Kashmere Gate, see that it is not ready yet and return home disappointed. By next year we would forget this and do the same thing again.
  4. On day 6, we would cover some of the Gurgaon pandals.
  5. Day 7, we would go Pandal Hopping at CR Park in the morning (Including Navapalli, my daughter’s favourite), then go to Oh! Calcutta for lunch and then return home stuffed. In the evenings, we would go to some more pandals in Gurgaon, including my favourite at the DLF Phase 1 community center.
  6. More of the same on Day 8
  7. On the 9th day, we would go to all our favourite ones once again and then bid a tearful goodbye till next year.

I much prefer Delhi & Gurgaon Durga Pujas to Kolkata ones (which are complete carnage).

Disappointing 2021

Durga Puja in 2020 was a subdued affair because of COVID, but there was something, at least. This year’s Durga Puja was a big disappointment. Normally there’s one Bengali group organising it in Bangkok, but this year, there’s nothing. There are no Bengali restaurants in Bangkok either (There are Bangladeshi, but its not the same). So we are sitting at home, watching it on TV.

Hope I am able to enjoy my favourite festival next year, again.

What is my Hometown?

When I was making a Facebook account recently, it asked me what my Hometown was. I thought about it for a while, but didn’t have an answer. Looks like I have had such a nomadic life, I don’t have a Hometown.

Here’s a list:

YearsCityDuration
1985-1985Bhubaneshwar, Odisha<1 year
1985-1985Kolkata, West Bengal <1 year
1986-1989Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh~3 years
1989-1990Dhani, Madhya Pradesh~1 year
1990-1990Dewas, Madhya Pradesh <1 year
1990-1994Indore, Madhya Pradesh~4 years
1994-1997New Delhi, Delhi~3 years
1997-1998Durgapur, West Bengal~1 year
1998-2002Panchkula, Haryana~4 years
2002-2007Nagpur, Maharashtra~5 years
2007-2008Kolkata, West Bengal~1 year
2008-2021Gurgaon, Haryana~13 years
2021-CurrentBangkok, Thailand
Nomadic Lifestyle
Not my hometown
Sucks, indeed

This list just covers the cities I have lived in. Even within these cities, I have sometimes lived in up to 3 different places. What is my Hometown, then?

Bhubaneshwar, because I was born there, but lived only a few months?

Kolkata, because that’s where my parents are from, but lived only a year?

Gurgaon, where I lived the longest and have my own place but don’t ever plan to return to?

Thankfully, I am off Facebook, so don’t have to answer this question anymore.

Kolkata – Still the City of Sorrow

This is not the first time I am ranting about this city. See these

How to win a cricket match

Why Calcutta sucks…

Kolkata

P.D.A. in Kolkata

Last weekend, I got the opportunity to visit the city after a span of 2.5 years. Here’re a few things I noticed that have changed and some things that have not
Changed:-

  1. Some signs of development are showing up (2 new Metro Lines)
  2. More cars on the roads
Not Changed:-
  1. The filth still exists everywhere and in greater quantities
  2. People still bathe on the streets
  3. The cars still honk like crazy; driving etiquettes are non-existent
  4. City is still severely polluted, buses still run on cheap Kerosene/Diesel Mix
  5. People are still Lazy, un-friendly & in a state of perpetual anger
  6. Kolkata Airport is the worst airport in the country at the moment

The city has a quality of bringing a lethargic feeling even to high-spirited individuals. I used to leave the place I was staying at to go out multiple times a day, only to feel tired in some time and come back.
I had given some thought to shift there in the past few months (to save on money), but all those thoughts are now gone.
 

P.D.A. in Kolkata

(P.D.A = Public Display of Affection)

I don’t know what’s up with this city. But one thing that you will abundantly find in all good quality restaurants is P.D.A. This is because of the high price of hotel rooms in city or because people like to show they have girlfriends, I may never know unless I ask some couple myself. They can be found in all the good restaurants and pubs on Park Street. They sit on the same side of the table and are constantly groping and touching each other. Some even go to the extent of smooching openly.. Atleast spare me of this embarrassment if I am ever sitting with my parents. IS this some way to show that you guys are cool? That you are as open and forward as the Americans & the Europeans? Can’t you just get a fucking hotel room and make out? And not surprisingly most of these couples are teens maybe from school. Explains them being wannabes for sure. Unfortunately, even the only place I like in Kolkata, Someplace Else (Someplace Nice :-*) could not escape the infiltration of these “Lovers”. While I try to enjoy the awesome music, there are always a few couple in the eyesight either groping or the guy grinding his thing on the girl’s ass. Moreover, they request for songs of Shaggy, Daddy Yankee(Who the fuck is he? Who’s daddy is he?) and dance on The Doors & Floyd and spoil the atmosphere. You fucking sexually frustrated creatures, why don’t you just go upstairs and rent a room for the night? Why do you have to brush against me again and again?? Go S.O.D. off!!

Kolkata

This city fucked me again. Today while going to office I was stuck in a Traffic Jam because some truck filled with human excreta had collapsed on the A.J.C. Road Flyover. It took more than an hour for the jam to clear. Couldn’t even go back because the Jam extended behind us for more than a kilometer and soon the whole flyover was covered with Traffic.

Kolkata..

This place still sucks… All these months away, I had expected atleast some improvement but no!! Yes, there are changes, but no improvements. The traffic is as bad and the roads worse. Riding a bike is a pain in this city. The other day, I was almost run over by a tram. Yes, the tram tracks are on the road itself. Whenever it rains, the traffic situation becomes much worse. It’s also hot, humid and dirty.
The only thing good in this city is Someplace Else, the pub at Park Hotel. With Live bands playing every night and booze not very expensive, it’s a great place. The Hip Pockets play there wednesdays and fridays. They are a treat to listen to. They play all the classics and Pink Floyd numbers.
Also, I like cruising along St. George’s Gate road at night. The traffic is measly and you get a beautiful view of driving along the Hoogly river.
Anyways, getting tired of inactivity and boredom. Trying to accumulate the will to start going to the gym and hopefully, will go on Monday.

Shit City

Had to spend another week at the Shit City Kolkata. Here are a few pics to show you how this place is:-

This is one of the posh neighborhoods near FORUM mall in bhowanipore.


These are pics of a place on Free School street. It’s a huge garbage dump full of garbage and animal carcasses. The place is very stinky, full of flies. The sky above is full of vultures and other birds eating the carcasses and garbage. This place is one of the biggest wholesale areas in Kolkata. Also, you can see kids playing cricket in this shit place. Occassionally, you can feel bits of meat drop from the birds up in the sky.This place sucks..

What I’ve been doing..

I am back in Kolkata. As usual, the city sucks big time. Got nothing to do, just sit at home and watch TV for hours, get a headache, have disprin, watch TV some more and then have disprin again. The weather is as humid as 6 months before. It sucks whereas Traffic is worse. Zee cafe is my favorite channel these days. Get lots of TV sitcoms like Friends, Full House(I love you michelle..), Seinfield, Caroline in the city etc. I have discovered that when couples go out in this city and visit some cafe or restaurant, they both sit on the same side of the table. Found that very wierd. Went out only once to watch a movie “Krrish”. Going to the gym in our society 5 times a week. After working out in a gym like Deshpande’s for so many months, I find it strange to workout in our colony gym which is Air Conditioned. Also, the gym has lacs of equipment for cardio but not enough for weight training. Also, the trainer is a creep whose only goal seems to be hitting on the chubby girls who workout for hours. According to him, every free weight exercise is bad for the body and damages the bones and has been banned. Also playing the guitar even though the strings are worn and I am too lazy to go out and search for new ones. The few friends I had here are busy with their girlfriends. Anyways, plan to celebrate Dad’s birthday on 10th and leave by 11th. Got a new motherboard for my PC. Can’t wait to get back to nagpur and get back on my bike. A car is OK but not the same as a bike.
Song of the day” Eye of the Tiger – Survivors”

Why Calcutta sucks…

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t find Calcutta the city of joy.. Following are the reasons why:-

  1. The whole city is depressing. As soon as I set foot in the city, a feeling of depression fills me.
  2. The climate sucks. It’s 90% or more humidity 12 months of the year. You sweat almost constantly as long as you are out of an Air-Conditioned room.
  3. City is overcrowded. Too many people and too less space. Poverty is among the highest in India. Again, gives a feeling of depression.
  4. People have a myth that living is cheap in Calcutta. Wake up guys, that was long time ago. A packet of branded detergent costs the same in Calcutta as in Delhi.
  5. People have named it Kolkata. Seriously this name sucks even more than the last one.
  6. Strikes almost everyday. People here just don’t want to work. And no, these strikes are not for serious issues. A rule for registering your pet at the municipal office does not call for 2 days of strikes, burning of banners and breaking of shop windows.
  7. People here have a belief that this is the best city in India when most of them haven’t even set foot outside West Bengal.
  8. Too many intellectuals. People here like to sit at a coffe shop, and talk away for hours deciding on how to improve the country. It would be more productive if they worked somewhere for that much time.
  9. Think people from other places are idiots.
  10. Roads are too crowded. No traffic discipline. To use the public transport system, you have to either be a black belt in some Martial arts or prepare to be hustled around.

That’s about all I can think for now. If I remember anything more, I will put the points in the comments area.

Why the last few months haven’t been exactly great for me…

  1. The piston of my bike siezed owing to the a jammed oil filter and I had to get a new one.
  2. I had a terrible accident on my friend’s bike and nearly got my head smashed. I still have the scars from that accident.
  3. One of my friends killed himself by hanging and I saw the dreadful sight. That sight lingered in front of my eyes during my exams. My spirits were in the dumps the whole time.
  4. Expecting my spirits to lift at new year, I had to see a terrible accident scene in front of PP’s garage pub.
  5. I travelled back home to Kolkata by sleeper class. Caught fever on the way and shivered the whole way with the chilly wind blowing across me. One of the worst and longest nights ever.
  6. I had to stay in bed for many days till I recovered from the fever/cold.
  7. The joystick of my mobile popped off and I couldn’t find a new one.
  8. The barber cut my hair too short, making me look like a damn cactus.
  9. I was on my way to Nagpur on 25th when the train tracks were blown up by naxalite rebels and I had to run away and come back home by a series of different local trains full of stinky people.

Hope my luck changes by the time my birthday arrives and I enjoy at the concert.I am now going directly to mumbai on 1st.