I see the moon peeking out from behind the roof of the front-door house. Looking nothing less than a ghostly galleon but with a quite resplendent, ivory halo surrounding it. And I watch it for a few seconds soaking in the beauty of it and wishing things. Like being with him, sipping wine on the verandah and just relaxing with no tensions or any troubles whatsoever for a few hours.
I can feel it in the air. The season’s changing. You know that feeling of pujo in the air. When the sun grows extremely bright during the day, but somehow the air touching the face is not burning or (worse) killing humid. So yes, I wonder how pujo will be this year. Every time it is a kind of a ritual for me to attend the family pujo back home in Calcutta. But now that I have already gone back once for E’s wedding and have to return for my London cousin’s wedding reception towards the end of the year, I guess it has to be spent in town. In Delhi. A tad bit different it shall be, I believe.
I have always thought that nothing can approximate the flurry of it in Calcutta. Truly. Right from the elaborate pandals, the amazing array of devi murtis, the extremely enthusiastic crowd of young and old dressed up in their new saris and kurta pyjamas tripping on from pandal to pandal stopping maybe for a quick phuchka by the roadside or waiting for the bhog to be served up. The constables in their black-trimmed white uniforms at every juncture, trying to control a traffic that refuses to go nowhere with most of the roads blocked, the pedestrians trying to cross quickly to catch up with the other lot of friends who have crossed and reached the other side and happen to be hollering to them vigorously to get over here already. The young college goers catching up for gossip, oily egg rolls, cheap Chinese and eye candy at Maddox Square.
It all makes me so nostalgic.
And you know what I love the most – the bitter sweet ending to it. I hate the feeling when the four days, like, fly by. But when I get home with my cousins and relatives, on this huge truck that carries us all the way back from immersion/bisharjan of the idol on the ghats of the Ganga, we get back to this super delicious dinner.
Wait. There is a proper build-up to it.
We begin my seeing this dead Hilsa fish that hangs on the door. Psst: It brings good luck. Then we all sit down for some last mantras chanted by our purohit moshai. Followed by bijoy dashami (during we touch our elders’ feet) which I basically get through with at breakneck speed to get to the amritti (in Hindi you know it as imarti, except that the Bengali version I believe is big ass).
There’s more in store. My favourite part. Main course. Hilsa. I concentrate and how. No distractions here. We call it the shorshe ilish -- the Hilsa is cooked in shorshe (mustard). Oh it is mindnumbingly delicious. I often forget that one should not overdo stuff (that old-and-oft-repeated-by-my-mother idiom, yes). Well, I go through three pieces of the fish at one go and even though sifting the bones out of the flesh might seem impossible to you, I don’t mind it as long as I get to gorge on it.
It’s making me mouth water.
The final parts to the dinner wrestle for favourite place in my list of loves. It includes the family’s traditional durga doi (watery yoghurt flavoured with lemongrass) and the tauk (a drink made of tamarind water). I down shots of these with as much as zest as I down those of say Bailey’s with crushed ice. You got me there.
Well, it seems that all I got to do now is hold on and see how it goes this year.