(*the following appeared as a Bengali article in the paper EBela as part of Anupam Roy's column - Anupam Katha)
(for those readers who do not understand Bengali, yet love Anupam Roy's words, here's an attempted translation with as much as I could understand of the original Bengali version. Any mistakes are apologised for in advance)
The rain-soaked sombre skies shaded with blue smiles. The flowers giving off the holiday scent. The crowds on the streets, the excitement on the loudspeakers and the rolls-pakodas-phuchkas....all beginning the countdown to Durga Puja, in Anupam Roy's words...
Is it time already?
Where did so many people come from? What's happened to Gariahat? Is it already here? What month's this? But I barely saw any
clear white clouds in the sky...Kolkata's sky is still filled with sullen grays these days! Those of us who're used to taking shortcuts through alleys and by-lanes of Kolkata streets, now know what's in store for these one or two months! The bamboo pandals in the privacy of the by-lanes. So back to the main roads! It's Durga Puja time already!
For as long as I was outside Bengal (6-n-half years), going back to Kolkata for Durga Puja was almost a must. That was the time of extreme identity crisis. What if people don't realise I'm a Bengali?
Office on the day of Saptami? Mad or what?! I'd come back to Kolkata. And landing at the airport would be followed by long queues for taxis and ensuing squabbles. The grumbling taxi-wallah and the dust-and-smoke filled ride all the way home. I once remember, on a Nabami night, me and my then boss (and best friend) Biman da, had bunked office and were roaming around Raash Bihari, Kali Ghat and Mudiyali, chomping on rolls and pakodas. As soon as we reached the Southern Avenue crossing, the office called. Those days we were working on a project with the Israel office. They were having some major issues with their bluetooth system chip using a PLL created by me (I'm not the right person to translate or describe the technical details that Anupam has explained in the original text, so do excuse). The difficult part was that I was the main brain behind the project, and at that time, my boss too was with me. The samples were being tested in their labs and their engineers clearly stated that my design wasn't compatible with their needs. Next day was Dashami, I was already feeling a bit sad, and this work crisis, on top of that, was enough to literally get me down on the streets. There are a few Italian saloons there (you'll notice if you visit) that were obviously deserted at that time of the night, so Biman da and I sat down on the pavement, the phone held to my ear. Then began the conference call.
It was a complex situation, and to top it, these PYTs (pretty young things) were walking past us giggling, adding salt to our fresh wounds, along with the many fireworks that were exploding around us, mixed with Asha Bhosle's voice coming from the loudspeakers. On such a happy evening, me and my best friend were sitting on the pavement, explaining away to a group of cruel engineers in a far away land, who were constantly addressing me as 'Anupan' instead of Anupam. We talked for an hour and then, by some amazing tact, we managed to shift the entire blame on them! It was nothing short of a divine intervention. Ma Durga had saved us. But we'd already lost the Nabami night in the process.
The feeling that Durga Puja is just around the corner is amazing! The first day of Puja (let's say Shashthi) is unparallelled. Wow! The sound of the dhaak begins. And then, as it goes on non-stop for the next 4-5 days, what then? It feels like the only thing needed now is for this noise to stop! People and more people everywhere, unending queues, police, ropes, phucka, motor bikes, loudspeakers...it needs to stop! This year I even saw Ganpati being worshipped with aplomb in the pandals. Don't we have enough gods already? Every week it's already booked with Kali, Shiv and what not. And does it stop just at worship? 3 days before puja 3 days after puja. There's a craze for loudspeakers and songs. A little too much during visarjan. Noise, air, water - all pollutions together! Those who are studying for an upcoming exam or those who are old or sick at home must be experiencing far more inconvenience than me. Our joys and celebrations are increasingly taking the form of a crazed aggressive celebration. And looks like the population explosion is all set to make us all explode one day! Those who rule this crazy country have to be wary of these religious sentiments. Here, religion takes priority over education. Pandals created in the middle of the road, dancing, loudspeakers - nothing can be stopped - try and it will lead to riots, vote bank issues and what nots - and this way, we are still where we were, never moving ahead, but crawling back a little each day. A lot of effort has resulted in bringing down noise levels to some extent (though not much but still), and even that's causing so much heartburn in people. Too much noise would have been lovely! You may of course like it, but have you ever thought of those who have to listen to it without wanting to? Do they like it? If you haven't thought of them yet, you may want to try out a headphone.
For the last three years, I haven't had to make a mad dash for Kolkata. I have to leave Kolkata. I have to visit different parts of the world to share my music. It's nice in a way. A funny incident is, last year, even in San Francisco, we found 'kaash phool'. Is this the Durga Puja scent? Has my city forgotten this scent? In September, we had shows in the medical colleges of Bardhaman, Bankura and North Bengal. I'm not the kind of person to laze around in hotels. In Bankura, the sound check was supposed to be at 2:30 am! So I headed out in the afternoon in the car to Shushuniya hills. The roads were lined with 'kaash phool' jungles. Red earth, cool breeze, small river, kaash phool and paddy fields - that's my Bengal! This is where I was born! These open fields, these blue skies are all signalling the arrival of Puja. Nature is decked up. I feel like running in to the kaash phool jungles, to lie down in its lap, to take in its scent. Puja has already started. In my heart.
You can read the original article here
- Debolina Raja Gupta