Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Durga Puja Revisited

It's ashthami today and I spent the whole day at home, alone, working on my Tuck and Kellogg applications. It's the first time I'm not with my parents during Durga Puja. No, I don't feel sad. Just that it's a first. And firsts always get my attention.

Initially I thought that I would ramble about DP in Bokaro but then realized that I have already done it a year back! I have always associated Durga Puja with a sense of fondness mixed with loss. It brings with it memories of Bokaro, the pandals in Sector 4-D and 1-C, friends, family and the general sense of bonhomie. It reminds me of the time when everything felt right and worth waiting for, the time when my dad's 16 hour shifts ceased to matter to him and he would be at his cheerful best, the time when my parents suddenly forgot to fight, the time when my mother's exemplary cooking skills found new ways to delight. It reminds me of the assurance, of the belief, that I had as a kid, that no matter what, there was Goddess Durga to take care of everything. I think it's probably the one thing that still remains.

It was probably in 1997 when we visited Silchar during the Durga Puja. My grandfather had insisted that we spend it there since each year, we only went during my summer vacation. I don't know if this is what you call foresight, or if it was just sheer coincidence, but by the time the next Durga Puja came, he wasn't there anymore.

Today, amidst all this madness of getting an admit, a better job, a better life - I miss the simplicity of spending 4 days of Durga Puja as a child. I miss the joy of trying to land a 25 paise coin inside the bangle placed at the bottom of a bucket full of water. The 50 paise which it would earn brought with it, a thrill which is now hard to find. Yes, I know my essays say that 'coming up with technical solutions to complex business problems is thrilling' - or something to that effect, but you know the truth.

At around 8:00 in the evening I had got tired of my essays and staying alone in the house. I submitted the Kellogg application after looking at the preview for the tenth time (the extra care because I had sort of screwed up the earlier one I had submitted to Ross). I think I got it perfect this time. Almost 15,000 words and 7 months after I started this process, Phase 1 is about to get over. The end however, is nowhere near. Anyway, I put on the new shirt which my mother had bought for me in July, insisting that I wear it during Puja, and decided to visit the nearby pandal. A 20 minute walk through the evening traffic in the heart of Koramangala took me there. I walked in till I reached the place where the idols were kept. Like always, I closed my eyes, folded my hands and prepared to list down my demands in front of the Goddess. Like always, I could say nothing and just kept quiet for a few seconds. I then grabbed a chicken roll and a glass of masala lemonade and a few minutes later left the place.

There should always be something to go back to when you feel being burdened by the weight of carrying on. For the longest time, DP was one of those things. It's another story that when it was most enjoyable, there was hardly any thing which burdened or troubled me. Life wasn't nearly as complex. I wasn't nearly as demanding.

Pamuk says in Istanbul - Life can't be all that bad....whatever happens, I can always take a walk along the Bosphorus.
I hope all of us have our Bosphorus to take a walk along.