In the last three posts, I wrote about my experience of celebrating Durga Puja in Mysore, Bangalore, Kolkata, and Berhampore. For the last post in this series, I wish to speak about the way life and the idea of celebrating a festival changed for us this year.
Life during the pandemic taught me perseverance and resilience. My son and I hadn’t taken a trip outside Kolkata since March. It was more out of compulsion than by choice that we decided to return to Berhampore after more than a year this October. Leaves were canceled at my husband’s workplace during the festival. Both my father and in-laws weren’t in a position to travel back to Kolkata at such short notice.
After the mandatory isolation period, the only distance that I traveled in Berhampore was from my in-law’s house to Baba’s home for a couple of days. I consciously decided not to step out of home for pushpanjali or pandal hopping. We offered our prayers at home. The bhog preparation for our para pandal happens on the ground floor of my home. Thus, we weren’t deprived of the delicious food options during the festival.
While I have a couple of pictures of Tuneer celebrating with my father and in-laws, I could only click a single picture of Ma Durga in the pandal near my home. I took the snap standing 10 meters away from the pandal while I was leaving for my in-law’s place. My husband clicked the other picture of their UCC Durga puja, which has entered its third year since inception.
We missed out on meeting friends, enjoying the endless adda sessions, visiting multiple pandals, and eating out at restaurants. But it was a conscious decision to stay indoors, not just for our safety but also for the ones who are most vulnerable to this deadly virus. I wish to remember 2020 as a year that showed us the importance of minimalism and sensible choices.
I hope you had a grand Durga Puja, celebrating in your way but without compromising on precautions. Here’s wishing you and your family a Shubo Bijoya Dashami/ Vijaya Dashami and Happy Dusshera. May we overcome the hurdles to go back to the old normal very soon.
“I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s My Friend Alexa 2020″ campaign. This is the eighth and last post in the series; you can read all posts here.
I wrote four rant posts as part of the My Friend Alexa campaign this month. Durga Puja begins today, and I have decided to stay indoor to stay safe amidst the pandemic. I thought it was a golden opportunity to take a trip down memory lane and revisit Durga Pujas spent in various cities during my student/professional life.
I lived in Mysore from 2009 till 2014. ICICI Bank gave me the first posting as Branch Manager in this beautiful laidback city. Mysore barely hosted a couple of Durga Pujas then. This picture was clicked in 2012, a year after I had lost Ma. It was my second puja after the wedding. I didn’t apply for leave to go home for puja that year; it was traumatic to celebrate when every small instance reminded me of my mother. We went out for dinner on the day of Saptami, and on our way back we saw the first Durga Puja of the city. Needless to say, it was difficult to control my emotions.
“I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s My Friend Alexa 2020″ campaign. This is my fifth blog post and you can read the previous four articles here.
“Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”
I was five years old when I went on my first trip to Darjeeling with my parents. Higher studies and corporate stints made me a resident of cities like Delhi, Bangalore, and Mysore. This was also the period when I traveled with my gang of girls to places like Chennai, Pondicherry, and Ooty and groups of friends to Pune, Khandala, Lonavala, Panchgani, Mahabaleshwar, Ahmedabad, Agra, and Goa. Once I discovered that I was essentially a nomad at heart, my solo trips took me to Hyderabad, Mumbai, Mangalore, Coorg, Madikeri, and Chickmagalur.
When T and I got married in 2011, it was a delight to discover that we shared the same enthusiasm for travel. Munnar was the first place that we visited as a married couple.Unfortunately, I lost my mother in the same year and life came to a stand-still. In 2012, an impromptu road trip from Trivandrum to Varkala and Kanyakumari helped me get a grip on my life again. Together we managed to visit Thekkady, Periyar, Alleppey, Athirapally, Cochin, Wayanad, Goa, Coimbatore, and Kodaikanal.If writing helped me cope up with my mother’s loss, traveling gave me the reason to live.
Three years back after my son was born, the trips became more planned and less on an impulse. From Goa and Mumbai in Central India, Mandarmani, Tajpur, Shankarpur, and Digha in the East, Delhi and Noida in the North to Guwahati, Shillong, and Cherrapunji in the North East, the three of us have explored both the tranquility of nature, humdrum of the city, sea and mountains alike.
The incident dates back to July 2011. I was heading a Bank branch in Mysore at that time. It was the first month after marriage and my husband had just relocated from Kolkata. I had a strange obsession with finding an accommodation near my office. Thus with every transfer or job switch, my address kept changing. The house where we resided as tenants were barely two kms from my Bank. Mysore was a town that thrived on human interactions, so almost everyone in the neighborhood knew about my doctor husband and his banker wife.
As per our daily schedule, my husband had to leave quite early in the morning while 8:45am was when I usually took an auto to the Bank. This made locking the house my responsibility. We occupied the first floor of the house and it had two open balconies. The front one led to the main entrance and the one at the back faced an area designated for a park. It had a large number of trees. My house owner had warned me about rechecking the locked status of both the balcony doors before leaving the house. It was for our own safety, he had wisely said. Unfortunately, I neither had a chance nor considered this piece of advice important enough to pass on to my husband.
It so happened that on a particular morning in July, I had to leave the house much before my usual time to attend a meeting. I had wrongly assumed that he would check and lock both the doors before moving out. The meeting had been a full day event and I returned home directly from the venue quite early in the evening. My house owner, who was generally a pleasant man had a very disapproving look on his face. Without thinking much, I walked up the stairs to open the door.
The word ‘shock’ would be a very mild term to express my reaction next. For every nook and corner of my apartment was occupied by a bunch of monkeys. They seemed to have had a satisfying meal of fruits, chips, biscuits and whatever they could lay their hands on. The flat resembled a house struck by a tornado. I let out a scream while wondering how to get rid of the monkeys. In a while, there were neighbors from the surrounding areas near my apartment churning out ideas about how to chase the monkeys away. Some of these ideas were so bizarre that they could put the word ‘innovation’ to shame. To anyone willing to lend an ear, my owner kept talking about how he had cautioned me about the danger of keeping balcony doors open. I honestly had no clue that when he spoke of how unsafe it was, he had monkeys instead of humans in mind.
Half an hour had passed and the monkeys couldn’t care less. They had comfortably settled in. I was getting worried about the uncertainty of being a resident here anymore. Suddenly I spotted my husband getting out of an auto downstairs. I started rushing down the stairs. Mysore was still considered as a conservative city with a good percentage of my neighbors falling in the category of senior citizens. I knew that at that moment they were looking, but I didn’t care. I ran to him anyway just like Kajol in the climax of the Bollywood movie DDLJ. I couldn’t resist myself from hugging him tight though I knew we were in the streets and all pairs of eyes were on us. My husband was still not sure why there was a crowd in front of our house and my sudden public display of affection but the actions of newly marrieds are rarely justified. He had attributed it to my overflowing love for him while in reality, I was breathing a sigh of relief that I finally had someone who would probably be a little less scared than me.
Finally one of my office boys arrived with a group of people who managed to drive away the monkeys out of the house. They grudgingly left but not before eating away all possibly edible items, throwing away quite a few things including one of my oldest mobile phone sets and creating havoc in the house to such an extent that the effort required in fixing it led to a slipped disc injury in less than two weeks. But that’s a story for another day.
The first time that I laid my eyes on you, my heart nearly skipped a beat. It was love at first sight and I was sure that we were meant to be together. The year was 2002 and I had moved to Delhi for my first post-graduation. Amidst adjusting to a new phase of life and struggling with emotional turbulence, you were the reason I stayed connected and never felt lonely. You were privy to the most private conversations yet I felt comfortable in your presence. The fact that you came into my life with my parents’ approval made it easy for me to take care of our joint finances.
Two years later, I moved to Bangalore and you chose to come along. Initially, you had little reception issues but you coped up quickly. As I joined the corporate world, you became my go-to medium to stay connected with the world. I accept that I had random thoughts about approaching some better prospects as my affordability increased but eventually I shunned them away. I could never think of replacing you.
I tried various options to keep you updated with the latest trends in fashion and technology but you were simply not interested. Many a time, I bore the brunt of sarcastic jibes because of my attachment to you. Then suddenly you started showing signs of mood swings by intermittently blocking all modes of communication. I grew exasperated.
We were both trying to decode each other and the future of this relationship as I started a new journey as a B-school student. You completely refused to co-operate then and I had no option but to seek a new relationship with a good-looking, sophisticated and updated support system.