Month: October 2018

Pujo in Gurgaon

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If you are a non-resident Bengali (a Bengali residing anywhere but the East – Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Tripura or Assam) you definitely crave for Pujo back home!

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It is true that Durga Puja has become a universal festival celebrated all over India and across the world, but we don’t breathe, live and talk Pujo in other places. In Gurgaon for instance there are quite a few Pandals where Durga Puja is celebrated Bengali style with dhak, dhunichi dance etc. Pandals in Gurgaon however are much simpler than the ones in Agartala or Kolkata and off course far apart. We do come across women in saree and men in kurta pajama but the younger lot is generally in ‘fashionable’ western attire.

 

Food is quintessential to the Bengali culture and there is always a wide variety of food stalls outside the pandal. Be it Egg devil, mutton chop, fish fry or rolls you have it all served with kashundi (Bengali mustard sauce). There is Mughlai parantha and kosha mangsho, rosogolla and much more.

This time I also came across stalls offering Lucknowi and north Indian cuisines, I even came across a Waffle stall at DLF Phase 1. Times are changing so are the taste buds!

The spirit however remains the same. Those few hours that I spent in the pandal made me feel like I was back home. Though outside the Pandal it is life as usual, social media platforms carry forward the celebratory mood. Facebook and Instagram are splurged with images of Pandals and Durga idols from all over the world. Photos and videos of Pujo in Agartala and Kolkata are being posted regularly on WhatsApp Group, making it impossible not to miss home!

 

Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse

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It’s Mickey Mouse’s birthday! I didn’t know that till I came across an automobile company’s commercial doling out special offers to customers celebrating Mickey’s birthday (smart strategy to lure our generation). In fact, I had almost forgotten Mickey, his arch rival Donald (duck off course😊) and his love interest Minnie.

The commercial took me back to school days when we were allowed to watch Mickey & Donald every Sunday morning. It was aired in Doordarshan for about an hour. We only had DD then which was not 24X7 and our TV watching was rationed to certain hours and certain shows only. We looked forward to the Sunday ritual of watching antics of Mickey & Donald, the fluttering Minnie mouse and the pranks of Donald’s nephews.

I also remember watching Flintstones & Jetsons and Tom & Jerry. Those were my favourite shows growing up, and we eagerly waited for Sundays to watch these cartoons. Even in the early days of Cartoon Network these shows were frequently aired. I remember watching Tom & Jerry for hours even after I started working. Watching these shows I thought I loved cartoon. Our T shirts and merchandise had these cartoon characters. Mickey was my favourite!

Then one fine day Cartoon Network and whole lot of other kids’ channels stopped airing these cartoons, and I stopped watching cartoons. They are not prime time popular cartoons anymore.

The kids’ channels are flooded with Pokemon, Doremon, Shin Chan, Ben 10 and what not. For me, these shows somehow lack the simple fun of Mickey & Donald and Tom & Jerry. Today’s kids are of course hooked to them. There’s also Chota Bheem and Little Krishna and Motu Patlu which bring in the Indian flavour, I watch these once in a while. Mickey Mouse and his cronies don’t excite kids anymore!

I am glad that the automobile company thought of using Mickey Mouse. Marketing gimmick it may be but at least they are making an effort to revive the character. Disney Channel has also started airing Duck Tales. May be our good old cartoons are making a comeback!

The Address Book

cropped-address-book.jpgWhile cleaning my bookcase I came across my old address book, a farewell gift from my hostel friend in the university. Brought back a flood of memories… the hostel days & nights, going to the Gops (Gopal who ran a small tea shop and grocery store in the campus) at 12 am for the last cup of coffee, girly gossips, staying up all night and so much more…

Ours was a campus beautifully laid out in the rocky green terrain of Hyderabad. Since the hostel was inside the campus there were not too many restrictions. As long as boys didn’t enter the girls’ hostel it was fine. We would often stay out the whole night, dancing away around a campfire or just lying on a rock and counting the stars. Occasionally nights were also spent studying, group studies in the hostel or in the library.

The address book brought back those heady memories, I spent hours browsing through the pages. It felt like yesterday when I passed the book around to all my friends and hostel mates before leaving campus. Their names, addresses and phone numbers were alphabetically listed. We vouched to stay in touch, we sincerely believed we would As I went through the pages their faces flashed before my eyes. There were a few letters and phone calls then we lost touch, got busy with real life, I guess. I reconnected with some of my college friends years later on Facebook, though the warmth fizzled after the initial excitement.

I had a sudden urge of dialling one of those numbers listed in my address book. Maybe, just maybe the number hasn’t changed, or the person hasn’t left…maybe the voice will bring back the warmth and the excitement of the college days…