The Calcutta update

Alright. So part of the reason I’m writing this post is so that I can test the keypad on my new laptop. Even otherwise, though, back in Calcutta after 6 months, and back for the Durga Puja after 2 years, the need for an update is a bit of a necessity.
This is perhaps my longest stay in Cal since the time I moved out of the city, in 2006, to Hyderabad. It’s been a week so far, and everything around is quintessentially Calcutta (of course you dont expect things to change much in 6 months, especially in this city). That, of course, apart from the assault on my senses caused by the newfound DJs’ tunes (or so I think they’re supposed to be) during the idol immersion. We’ll come to that. But here’s to begin with:

Cricket fever, the odd Pakistan fan and Dada, the TV-show host
If you’re a Bong away from the mad cricket-loving people you left behind here, welcome back! I arrived bang in the middle of the Champions’ Trophy, with an India-Pakistan match on sched. As usual, the whole town’s talking, expecting a win and well... we lose! And if I were in Mumbai now, I might not even have known this bit of news till the next day’s newspaper. In Cal, however, my old reputation meant that the odd Pakistan fan who lives next door made a point to tell me the result, with a grin pasted firm across his face! Of course, there’s no way to tell him that I didn’t really care. So, I left him talking to himself about Pakistan being the inevitable champion, and their loss to Australia being “got up” (meaning fixed).
Arguing Bongs readily allude to odd things and to Sourav Ganguly. So, it was Dada again. Without cricket to talk about, since we were out of the tournament (you must understand by now, I had sat down to watch the next game... old habits and joblessness), Sourav’s show on TV is the talk of the town. I saw one episode, and I must admit he’s got more screen presence than the whole of the Indian team put together. He’s humorous, witty, diplomatic, and tactful with personal questions people ask. It’s not surprising though that half the quiz questions are about him—his records, his centuries, and video clips of him. Quite a TRP-stealer, I hear. As for the local news channels cursing Zee for this, they had their fair share of him on Dashami evening, with the ‘Breaking News’ being Ganguly dancing at the immersion and playing the Dhak (a kind of drums) for the cameras.
With so much publicity, dbe surprised if Rituporno Ghosh decides to cast him in his next! Don’t think a Hadippa (the Rani Mikherjee-Shahid Kapoor disaster) is down Ghosh’s lane, but if, say he does cast Ganguly as the coach, he could play Rani’s role himself: man playing woman playing man! (No pun on ‘playing’ intended).

Now, for the constants
The chicken roll at Hot Kati (on Park Street) still costs Rs 20! And it’s as good as ever. Not so pleasantly, the list of constants includes the airtime still given to Mamata Banerjee. The traffic-blocking, andolon-calling stuntwoman-turned-leader-and-now-Rail Minister is still at it. Cheap publicity remains her forte, and she’s still calling for the Government’s head, on new issues and old, pledging to start a ship service from Andamans for the poor passengers stuck there due to the Air India strike (she’s in apparent ignorance of the fact, of course, that the said ship service has always existed).
As for things only slightly more important, Badla’s 100-something-old grandmother is alive and bent! (She’s been this way for the last 20 years that I’ve seen her). The hot rosogollas (Rs 2 each), jalebis (Rs 1 each) and the bhoger polau (priceless), are still made in Cal like nowhere else!

Culture shock
Right, now to talk about the immersion on Dashami (10th and last day of the Durga Puja), and the accompanying ‘DJ’ on the truck with every locality’s immersion procession. He’s basically the guy who sings (yeah, this DJ sings), changes the track (he plays whole songs because it’s a long crowded road to the ghats) and not-quite-seamlessly switches from Bengali film music and pop to Vengaboys (I’m sure they’re still available, ’cuz the Mc D near VT station in Mumbai was playing them the last week).
For all those old-timers (and I weirdly enough stand with them on this one) who thought that dhak and Dhunuchi (ref. Sanjay Dutt dancing in Parineeta) was the way to see off Ma Durga and family, telling everyone “Aasche bochhor abar hobe” (“Till next year”), guess tastes have— in lack of a better expression—evolved.

PS for Durga, from Cal: Divine mother, please dont misunderstand. We were not recommending you visit Brazil for the Pujo vacations next year. We love you and hope to have evovled to Backstreet Boys next year.


Fully grown fuzzy Hipposaur said...

Do we have the "like" option on Blogger a la Facebook? :p Good job

Mani said...

Isshhh, missed it re... nyways as u said it, as we've all said it over the years... "asche bochor abar hobe...." :)

Revived Angel... said... week is the longest trip to Cal.I shudder to thnk dat mayb i'll feel d same nxt year.Asche bochor onwrds it wont b the same for me.I'll miss d countdwn lik u do.

saachi said...

nice blog Sarit, as always :)
So you think hadippa isn't worth importing it here?
btw, we're still waiting for a certain article of you to come...