Pujo Diaries/3

Until two years back I was an enthusiastic pandal hopper. From the day of Mahalaya I would start making my list of the high profile pujos and a well planned itinerary to cover it all. Now the mere sight of crowd gives me nightmare. I cannot believe I was once part of it. So when A from our group asked me to accompany her and her friend on pandal-hopping on Navami morning, all I could say was, No thanks. Instead I woke up at nine o’ clock in the morning and by the time I got ready and finally went downstairs everyone at the pandal was gearing up to play Housie. Since I am a socially awkward human being and any kind of group or community activity makes me want to kill myself I wasn’t feeling very keen about it. Even the exciting prizes (water bottles, hand juicers, plastic trays) failed to allure me. Aunty (D’s mom) won a water bottle and a plastic cutlery holder and posed for us with a sheepish grin on her face. My luck was not so good.

After Housie was over we decided to visit the nearby pujos at Santoshpur. I was the only one in the group who had not visited any famous pandals yet so I thought it was about time. Santoshpur Lake Pally did a beautiful pandal this year. I no longer waste my energy to comprehend the themes of any pujo these days so I just admired their colourful and vibrant kitschy decorations. Not to mention the pandal was ideal for posing for pictures so our cameras went off the moment we entered. And most importantly the pandal was almost empty on a Navami afternoon so we could hover about without getting jostled.
Santoshpur Trikon Park made large swans out of wicker and bamboo and Ma and her family were sitting in a wicker hut in the middle of it.

In the evening we gathered at the pandal for the daily dose of culture that we Bengalis are so proud of. We are gossipy and quarrelsome and have saggy paunches but so what, we have Rabindranath Tagore. We had plans to sneak out in the middle of the programme and go visit Ambuja Housing’s pujo nearby. But the gods had something different chalked out. It started raining so heavily that we remained stuck in the pandal for the rest of the evening. One extraordinarily talented aunty only started with her series of Rabindra Sangeet when the rain set in. Even the ear-splattering thunders could not make her wince even once. She remained rooted to her spot and got down only after finishing her quota. One young guy whose idol happened to be Arijit Singh started singing Hindi chartbusters but had to stop midway as he started on a wrong scale and had gone almost supersonic during the antara of a really high-pitched number. However we were spared any further pain when the equipments guys turned off the microphones and all owing to fear of short circuit.