Friday, October 3, 2014

Pujo, the big circle of red plastic chairs and other stuff.

Pujo. 

The time of unlimited excitement and cheer for all the residents in the state I call my home. The Pujo talks in my hostel always start after midnight and always during the tests we have to give before we could claim happiness over a ten-day long holiday. It is always about which side of Kolkata has the best Pandals and Pratima, which outings have the best food (because food is an inevitable topic in all our conversations :P) and all the plans to be made and dresses to be worn during the festive time. 

I am a listener in this conversation because not being a resident of Kolkata has me feeling left out in many conversations of a friend circle who belong to the City Of Joy. I enjoy these conversations as much as the ones I take part in though, it is fun just to listen sometimes. 

Pujo in Kharagpur is completely different (Or that is what I have concluded from my listening sessions over three years of pre-pujo talks at hostel). Rather, I should say that Pujo in IIT Campus Kharagpur is done in a different style. Technology Staff Club which organizes the Puja, has a huge ground with a concrete pandal built on it which is basically for the Durga Puja but is also used for multitasking like a bicycle exhibition to rob the freshers (:P), Khadi merchandise exhibitions, Marriage buffets etc etc etc. 

Try going to any Puja Pandal in Bengal. I swear that even if it is a moderately famous place, you would have to stand in a huge line, be herded like sheep inside, and shooed away mere minutes after you extract your leg from the crowd and pause to take a breath. I say this because it happened to me just a few hours ago. My poor already sprained ankle :'( 

But at Staff Club (The hub of Pujo festivities inside the campus as mentioned above), things are very very different. You don't visit staff club to see the replica of some famous place made in absolute beauty or to gawk over an ingenious pandal. Because the pandal isn't makeshift. It is (as I said above) PERMANENT. And it is merely covered with cloth over bamboos in a simple way that would (if I am not mistaken) escape your notice. 

So exquisite pandal- Nope.
Out of the world decoration/lighting- Na na na.
Unique Murti of the Goddess maybe- *shakes head* They do it the traditional way every time. 

So what is it that attracts such crowds to this place?

The moment you enter the gate of the ground, you would see a crowd, yes, because come on, it is PUJO, why would there NOT be a crowd at a pandal? But there is no rush you see everywhere else. There are no lines. There is no squabbling to get inside the pandal and take a picture. The moment you enter the gate of the ground, you would see clusters of people everywhere. Clusters of aunties in beautiful tant sarees, clusters of school kids, clusters of college guys united with school mates, clusters of uncles discussing about NaMo NaMo, clusters of people standing and chatting outside, clusters of people sitting on red plastic chairs in circles of varying diameters, clusters of people around the cement barricade around the Pratima chatting about how Pujo robbed them out of a day of celebration this year and clusters of people chatting about one thing or the other in general. 

So Pujo at my home place has got everything to do with ADDA. 

People sit and talk for hours put together. You just need to enter the Staff Club once and you would see faces you haven't seen in the last two eternities before you. I went to give the Ashtami's pujshpanjali this morning and I saw what seemed to be like the entire staff of my school and I had to run from one teacher's feet to the other in rapid succession. I saw people I know who do not live in the campus because that is how famous the Pujo of Staff Club is, it is the magnet to people living in the whole of Kharagpur. 

It is wonderful to see faces being lit into smiles on seeing a buddy you haven't seen after school and the delighted exclamations over one's saree or one's general appearance after a year. It is a wonderful place to be. I only wish I wasn't expected to go along with someone to this place. 

There are many things I have come to know about myself after I joined college. And one of them is that I don't operate in crowds. I just don't. 
I find the idea of being reunited with all my school friends and sitting in a big circle like they do at the Staff Club and laugh and have pictures taken and pose and laugh some more very exciting but I have never been able to do the thing. 

Believe me, I have tried. 

And that turned out to be my worst Pujo ever, back in my first year of college. It is only today that I read in the comment section on a HONY photo- "Loneliness is horrendous but the worst is being surrounded with people who make you feel lonely" and the memory of that day washed over me and I felt a mixture of sadness and incredulity over how silly I was and how naive. 

I lied to myself that I was as close a friend of the people who came to my house for reasons other than just taking me along, I lied to myself thinking that people I had never even talked to at my school would open me with welcoming arms and pretend to know all my interests and swap college stories with me, I lied to myself in even thinking that the reserved girl from school who had zero guy friends from class would suddenly be greeted by all the guys in question as if we were buddies. 

Wishful thinking anyone?

So, with my doing, I was sitting in a big circle like I had always imagined I would in school days, I was staring into the faces of people I had known for 8 years of my school life, I was trying my best to smile and laugh at the jokes that made absolutely no sense to me and yet there was something breaking inside me with each attempt; the laughter around me was so loud, yet I could hear someone sobbing inside.

But I refused to admit it to myself. 

I was miserable and I did not even know it! Award for the stupidest girl alive anyone? 

I came back home that day and was entirely normal and then, out of the blue, deep into the night, I started crying uncontrollably :P 

I felt friendless, unwanted, unloved and there is no saying how much, how much hurt I felt that day. Kirti, the girl who always laughed in big groups at school, the girl who shared tiffin with no less than 10 people at school was excluded out of all conversation. 

The next day, my tears continued flowing and Arpita whom I freaked out with my emo messages on FB called me some time later to ask me if I would go out with her in the evening. Her parents took us both out for Pandal Hopping that day. They gave us a treat at CCD and then left us to walk back home. I will never forget that day. Did I say that year was my worst Pujo? It was also the best for this one reason.

I felt extraordinarily small that day. Arpita is a girl who is awkward socially or at least believes to be. I was always the person who (according to her) has a huge group of friends and could socialize easily.When that myth of mine got broken so harshly that day, I marveled at the simplicity with which she accepted the fact that she did not have many friends at school. And here was I, lying and lying to myself, forcing to believe something that was not true! How many friends did I have from school despite all the facade? 

It makes me laugh now, the stupidity with which I hung on to what wasn't the truth.  

I stopped pretending after that. My closest friends from my batch Antara and Sattu, never came to Kgp during Pujo. Arpita always packs off to Cuttack. Sushmita was the only one who stayed and I went out with her, just like I used to do during school days. I kick myself even now for even trying to be different after I joined college. 

Tanamika is the only one who cared enough about me not making an appearance at the Pandal to come over to my house and ask what was wrong.  

Suranjana is another friend I love to hang out with during this time. We catch up only during Pujo and getting nostalgic over school days and bitching about the people we didn't like with someone you used to sit beside for two years of High School is so refreshing. And no one makes better jokes than her :D 

With Suranjana this year, even the sting of being called in and then excluded from the big circle of school-buddies-rejoined was forgiven. The shock over a specific someone being extra sweet to us was forgotten. Friends give this gift to you and we should be so thankful for people in our lives who don't make us feel lonely.

I had fun this year. I had fun in my own quiet circle of few friends and friendships that run deep. I had fun this Monday when I went out of town with my best friends and saw a crappy movie but took the best from it anyway. I had fun showing the cards Sushmita made for me over the years to Sushmita herself and laughing over how silly we were back in 7th grade and how creative she was from the very start. I had fun laughing over Mania Ki Duniya with Tanamika yesterday and hogging that delicious Samosa Chat with her. I had fun waking up early for the Pushpanjali today and sitting with Surajana and Sushmita at the Pandal and pulling each others' legs. 

I will keep these laughs with me. The aren't very loud, but they are strong enough to drown the sobs I might heave some day I am sad. 
The plastic chairs around me aren't too many. The don't even make a circle, a triangle maybe on my best days but then, it is not done for everyone to have everything. And the big circle of red plastic chairs just isn't for me. 

Happy Pujo :) 

21 comments:

  1. Girl that was deep!
    I wonder howcome you are always the first person to stand up against me when I whine about having least number of friends in college compared to all the other people in our posse...and when I am like " ...friends should be many and randomly chosen", you always stick to the conventional saying vehemently opposing me...
    Nonetheless loved the simplicity and honesty of your writing like I always do :D

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    1. It is because of this incident and a few others that have made me believe in the conventional. It is better to not have any illusion about your friends and be alienated by the same- I learnt this the hard way. Hence my disposition towards fewer and well kept friends. I don't want you to be hurt the same way which is why I always stand up against you when you whine :)
      You remember that line in The Fault In Our Stars where Augustus says "She was loved deeply but not widely"? I would like to stick to this because it IS better to be loved deeply than widely. It reduces the disappointments oh-so-much!

      Thank you for the visit, it means such a lot to me that you took time to read and comment :)

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  2. Your initial paragraphs are so articulate that while going through them, I was almost lost in my own childhood memories (Will surely tell you some day!). For me, Puja have no specific meaning but to bring delight and refreshment in occupied lives. Be it Kolkata, Kharagpur or even some interior (very interior!) place like one where I live, Puja brings color for all.
    Your following paragraphs were soulful. Yes, I mean it.
    "The laughter around me was so loud, yet I could hear someone sobbing inside" - Beautiful line!
    "I stopped pretending after that."- Oh really? Epigrammatic :p
    "The plastic chairs around me aren't too many. The(put a y) don't even make a circle, a triangle maybe on my best days but then, it is not done for everyone to have everything. And the big circle of red plastic chairs just isn't for me " - Loved it!
    Keep writing :)


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    1. I am glad my words could take you down the memory lane! I would love to hear about it :) Puja truly does brings colors for all, that is what they are for nahi?
      I am so happy you liked my post enough to quote lines from it! I just write my heart out, it is truly a pleasure to see that people like it :)
      Keep visiting :)

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  3. good to see ur post aftr many days!!n today it is last days of navratri.so firstly,wish u happy vijaya dasami
    n hapy dussera!!!honestly vry hapy to see the post!!! read the post!!

    n have a point to mention abt puja-puja is not just about red plastic chairs ...it is thanking god-for what he has blessed us!!puja is an occasion to express our gratitude to god,for what he bestowed!!! i mean i take
    it that way atleast.wel.

    apart frm that-liked many sentences frm ur post-"sometimes it is jus fun to listen"-gud sentence,
    "i dont operate in crowds"-good sentence!!!-i liked this sentence because-am even like that.wel
    there many points which i could correlate -with myself.i do not know why,-but at times i feel-no matter
    how many friends we have-at some point or the other in life-we feel we are alone..we are lonely.may
    be thats life too..!!!

    wel-n frm ur blogpost-i underatood how puja's r done in Kolkata n Bengal!!!with ur writing-got a picture
    of it.nice to know about it n culture!!!from ur writing got a picture as to how it is celebrated!!!nice!!!-should
    be colourful.i am frm Hyderabad-n though we watch in television as to how navaratri is celebrated in different places-its always good to know from the individuals too..this way!!!

    wel-overall good post.there are many instances here in this post-that i could to,trust me!!!actually even i keep writing articles.but only thing is- i dont post it to outside world.i just keep them with me.my friends dont have much interst in book reading or aticles-they show no interst( i mean they are good,but its
    just that they hve no interst for books or reading articles-that way!)-so i dont share my writings with them.
    felt very hapy when i came across ur blog-n undertud ur love for books!!!

    n winnie the pooh-i read it!!!us loved it!!!thnks a lot for telling me of such a book!!thnks again!!!suggest
    any good bokks if u knw-will surely try reading!!!

    wel-am gng from somewhr to semwhr.good post-keep writing.

    n i could not see the change-"kirthi who "fears"for a dreamer in her!!wel i hope it be changed soon!!!
    (as requested earlier)

    today is vijaya dasami-n whatever work we take up today-it brings "vijayam"(its a telugu word-means success) as mentioned by elders!!! n u always mentioned in ur blogposts-tht u would to become teacher
    n teach English poems.wel-i truly pray goddess durga-that all your dreams come true n u be successful!!!
    am sure-every prayer god listens...so surely god does good to all his children!!!

    God created entire universe-mountains,trees,colors,what not??so for a person who created this universe-it
    is not difficult to grant our wish.i hope almight listens to the prayer n fulfills tre dreams of people!!! i really
    wish n pray you become a good teacher n teach English poems!!!(as u mentioned in ur posts you wanted to teach in class poems..!!!)wel.

    good luck...!!!keep writing many more!!n good post-liked it!!!
    hapy dasara again...!!

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  4. thr r still mny more good points-that i loved in ur post. apart from what i wrote above.but today being vijaya dasami-the last day of navaratri-just in a hurry to make it to temple n few things.will surely express my words for ur post!!!thnks again for posting...!!good day!!!happy puja..!!

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    1. Thank you so much for your wishes. I pray for your wishes to come true as well. It was nice hearing from you. Keep visiting :)

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    2. nice to see ur response!!!waiting for ur next post!!!

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  5. Kirti!! I feel deeply loved after reading this! I feel cosily happy after reading this! :) :) ^_^ ^_^ Thankyou!! It was amazing! So soulful!

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  6. The fact that you consider yourself so lonely or having very few friends might be due to your own percieved definition of a friend. Maybe there arent many people who see relationships ( friendship in this case) as you do. Its not the number of friends you have, but the intensity and most importantly the truthfulness with which you can be with them.

    A perfectly white horse may be percieved by some as the most beautiful of its kind. But its impeccably white skin makes it more vulnerable to predators by making it less camoufalged. In fact, it is kind of negative mutation and a handicap. And while the stupid horse is basking under the sun, thinking that its attracting a lot of envy from the other "less beautiful horses", it is actually attracting the gleaming eyes of the tiger who is just revelling at the horses stupidty of making itself so easily preyable.

    So, it doesnt matter if you could only make a triangle, or a polygon of a lesser number of sides than a circle (I only mean it in the metaphorical sense. Please dont go into the maths of it.), just a straight line, or only a dot. What matters is that you should be able to relate to each vertex and feel a part of the constellated up polygon you make up in your mind with your friends ( I feel like I am talking in geometry, and I am getting good at this. You think I should start my own blog? Will you follow me if I ever do?).

    On the flip side of it, you wouldnt end up writing such beautiful lines if you had many friends who would squeeze you of all your thoughts and make you........boring. Cheer up! If you dont have as many friends as them, then how many of them have more than 7 comments on their blog?

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    1. I like your white horse reference; I really like it.
      Well, the point of this post was precisely that realization that a polygon with many vertices was not something I wanted. A few well loved friends are what I have always needed and thank the Gods I have such good ones in my life! So as you rightly say, it really doesn't matter in the end.
      Boring? Ah, that is a matter of perception now. For many people, I am the boring sort, preferring to read books than hang out etc :D So yeah, for each his own!

      And of course I think you should start writing a blog! From what I have read of your from your comments, you seem like one who has many interesting things to say in store! And of course I will follow you if you do. You just need to pop a blog link in the comment section here :)

      Thank you for the visit. It is always a pleasure to read your comments :)

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  7. Kirtiii, Kirtiiii.............
    that was a piece of.... i would say double choclate cornetto for me..
    i just returned from ludhiana, after having a very dull pujo celebrations, at a place where i dnt knw anybody except my parents and bro...
    and hence i feel so much attached to this post, missing the KV.....
    But, seriously, i have never thought that you could be so intense from inside, i thought you are a "happy-go-lucky" type of girl, who smiles by default!!!! SADNESS: -->404 ERROR- File not found....
    But you know, you have much more friends than you think, and i think it also includes this anonymous person, who comments on almost your every post......

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    1. Well, I am glad you could relate to it :)
      Sadness? Don't you think a person would be abnormal if he/she doesn't have a fair share of it? So yes, I carry my of troubles and anguishes too!
      Yes, I know that I am a really lucky girl to have such doting friends. I thank God for it all the time. Some observations in general get me unsettled, that's all.
      Thank you so much for the visit and the comment :)

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  8. So sweet. Not only you. Durga puja has a big impact on every bengali's life.

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    1. I agree Anusia. Though I am not a Bengali, being born and brought up in Bengal has made Durga Puja an essential part of my life.
      Thank you so much for the comment and welcome to my blog! :)

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  9. Even I have so many non bengali friends but they are crazy for this puja.

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  10. no new blogpost?kindly keep writing ....

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  11. awaiting for ur new blogpost...!!!kindly keep writing...!!

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  12. I type the URL of your blog everyday hoping that the line "Friday, October 3, 2014" might have changed! Hope you will update your blog soon.
    And I am a DIFFERENT ANONYMOUS. Not the one who has posted the above comments. I know you, you know me, but still I chose to post as an anonymous and I don't know why.

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    1. I had to reply to this. I just could not NOT. Please please please tell me who you are! It is hugely mysterious to have anonymous comments on my blog; I keep wondering who it might be and you say that we know each other! Thanks for building up my impatience even more.
      Sigh.
      I do wanna write, but I haven't written anything in ages. So I might just rant again. Soon.

      PS: Just an email saying who you are maybe?

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