31 October 2015

Love Birds at Durga Puja


This is an imaginary story about two Love Birds during Durga Puja in Calcutta. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental. 

Rahul and Suchitra had planned to spend all five days of Durga Puja together. They were on the verge of falling truly, madly, deeply, hopelessly and helplessly in love with each other and therefore could not resist the urge to spend the mother of all festivals together. This was the first time that they were going to spend all five days and nights together. Last year Rahul had spent Durga Puja with another woman and Suchitra had spent it with her family. That woman was no longer there in Rahul's life any more and Suchitra was having some problems with her family members. Therefore they decided that it would be the best thing to spend all five days together. 

Rahul suggested to Suchitra that they should wear matching colours during Durga Puja, just for fun, and also to visually announce to the world that they were a couple now. Suchitra giggled and then agreed. She never said no to Rahul for any thing. Infact she liked Rahul because of all his idiosyncrasies and his childlike innocence. He was still a child at heart. Suchitra liked his honesty, his straight-forwardness and his charming nature too. In the initial stages when Rahul was trying to woo her, she really felt special and really liked the way Rahul was trying to impress her and ask her out on dates. Obviously being a woman, she initially resisted his charm, refused his date-offers and played a bit hard to get. But gradually she could not resist him any more and could not hold her fort any longer and thus after a few months sweetly surrendered to his advances. 

Rahul waited for her in front of Priya Cinema on the evening of Sasthi. She came on time inspite of all the traffic jams throughout the city. This was one of her qualities which Rahul loved very much. Suchitra was always punctual. She never ever made him wait even for a single minute. That very afternoon they had spoken over the phone and had decided what colour to wear. That day's colour choice was blue. She was wearing a blue saree and Rahul was wearing a blue panjabi with blue jeans. She was looking absolutely gorgeous and extremely beautiful. Rahul couldn't take his eyes off her. When she smiled, it was as if a rainbow would appear in the sky. When she laughed, the world seemed a much better place. When she looked deep inside Rahul's eyes, he felt eternal bliss. 

They first went to Deshopriyo Park. Fossils was performing there and Rupam Islam was at his majestic best. These days Durga Puja is synonymous with the beat of dhaak in the morning and the clash of cymbals in the evening. Fossils was rocking the crowd with their magical numbers. The crowd was actually singing each and every line. From Deshopriyo Park they went to Ballygunge Cultural. Then Samaj Sebi. Then Tridhara Sammilani. Then to Triangular Park. A fair was going on. There they sat on the Ferris Wheel, those revolving cars and that huge swinging boat. Both Rahul and Suchitra found childlike happiness and ecstasy in them. Those rides brought many childhood memories back to them.  

After all these activities, they were hungry. Now they wanted to eat dinner. But every restaurant was jam-packed and there were surging crowds waiting for their luck for empty tables in front of all the restaurants. However luckily Rahul and Suchitra got an empty table at Zite which is bang opposite Hong Kong restaurant at Triangular Park. There they ate chinese food. The food was delicious. There were a lot of other couples inside the restaurant.

After dinner they went to Singhee Park and Ekdalia. Rahul has always loved the huge chandelier at Ekdalia. There they spent some time drinking fruit juices and eating candy floss. Then they went to Babubagan, Selimpur, Jodhpur Park and Taltala EDF Ground. Around dawn they went to Park Circus Maidan. Then Rahul dropped Suchitra home in a cab and came back to his place and went straight to sleep. Inside the taxi they decided that Saptami's colour choice would be pink.   

On Saptami they met in front of Rabindra Sarobar Metro station. Suchitra wore a pink saree and Rahul wore a pink panjabi with a stole. First they went to Mudiali. Then Shib Mandir. Then Sebak Sangha. Then they went to Harish Park, 68 Pally, Bakulbagan, Golmath and Abasar. From there they came back to Ballygunge Cultural. Anjan Dutta was performing there with his son Neel. It was so nice to hear Anjan Dutta's vintage classics even after so many years. It felt like a walk down memory lane. After the show was over, Rahul and Suchitra went for dinner at Kurry Klub on Sarat Bose Road, not because they liked that restaurant but because that was the only place where they could get an empty table. They ate Chicken Biriyani there. But the food was not that good.

After dinner they came back to Ballygunge Cultural. In south Calcutta, after Maddox Square, this is the best place to be in. Rahul and Suchitra just walked hand in hand in and around the place. There were a lot of celebrities from the bengali television industry who were also hanging out there. Rahul bumped into some of his old friends there. He also bumped into one of his ex-girlfriends with whom he had broken up seven years back. They both smiled at each other. She was with another man. She introduced that man to Rahul and he introduced Suchitra to her.

At around 2 a.m. Rahul and Suchitra went to Lake Road CCD. The place was packed with couples who were all romancing and coochie cooing. Young, beautiful, gorgeous and glamorous women were all around. Rahul ordered a cappuccino and Suchitra went for cold coffee. She went to the washroom for sometime. This was a golden chance for Rahul's eyes to scan the entire place and register all the pretty faces inside his brain. He also noticed that some of the pretty faces were actually scanning him too and checking him out. Before these nayan-sukh-praptis could continue for some more time, Suchitra came back from the washroom. Rahul had to focus all his attentions on her only. They had a lovely adda inside CCD. They ordered another round of coffee and chicken sandwiches. Around dawn Rahul took Suchitra inside Rabinbra Sarovar Lake. Few early-bird morning walkers had started to pour in. The entire place looked so beautiful bathing in the first morning rays. They walked the entire stretch till Nazrul Manch. From Golpark they hailed a cab and Rahul went to drop Suchitra home. Inside the cab Suchitra wanted Ashtami's colour choice to be red. She has a very beautiful red saree and she wanted to wear that on Ashtami. Rahul hates the colour red because of political reasons. But he saw the spark in Suchitra's eyes and therefore did not want to break her heart. So he agreed but he made a slight change. He told her that he would wear the maroon colour, which was close enough to red. He is a die-hard Mohun Bagan supporter and loves the colours green and maroon.

On Ashtami they met in front of Maddox Square. She was wearing her gorgeous red saree and he wore his maroon panjabi with black jeans. He also put another stole around his neck. Cactus was performing there. Rahul and Suchitra spent the entire evening there. They ate fuchkas, candy floss, papri chats etc. They also shot at balloons with those toy guns. Once one enters Maddox on Ashtami, it is then very difficult to leave. One feels like staying there for the whole night. On Ashtami evening, all roads in Calcutta lead to Maddox. Its like heaven on Earth.

From Maddox Square, Rahul and Suchitra went to Azad Hind Dhaba for dinner. The restaurant was damn crowded. They had to wait for sometime to get a table. After dinner they had quite a few gundi paans. Then they again came back to Maddox. The place seemed like a huge college canteen. They also roamed hand in hand around all the roads surrounding Maddox, for example Earle Street.

A decade back Maddox Square was a bit different. Rahul and his first girlfriend Shona had spent their Durga Puja afternoons and evenings there. In those days those wobbly chairs were available for everyone on a first come first serve basis. They wanted to spend the whole night together also pandal hopping throughout south Calcutta, but sadly Shona had to reach home within 9 pm. That was her deadline. They were in high school at that time. Rahul had specifically asked Shona to wear sarees during Durga Puja. Shona was having a bit of difficulty walking around in a saree, thus Rahul had to hold her hand almost all the time and save her from tripping. A group of girls from Carmel School were checking out Rahul. Shona got very jealous. She was very possessive about her boyfriend. Rahul knew those girls from before as he had met them earlier at Carmel's fest held at Uttam Mancha.

These days the central portion of Maddox Square is cordoned off from the general public. That space is reserved for club members only. All the chairs are kept inside. Outside that space people have to sit on newspapers on the ground. And everyone is comfortable doing that. Old newspapers are actually sold there by some people for this purpose only. Groups of young boys sitting together, checking out pretty girls and lusting over those ravishing boudis. Unlike most other animals, we humans are on heat on all the seasons. And this heat rises to meteoric levels during Durga Puja. Some of the boys get drunk, doped and stoned. During Durga Puja some boys have a tendency to booze until they start puking. This is very bad. Durga Puja is a time to enjoy the festival to the fullest, not to get sloshed, wasted and stoned.

During the 2004 Durga Puja, Rahul had bought the albums Rajar Raja by Cactus and also Fossils 2 from Music World. He had listened to these two albums on all five days. During that year, Rahul and Mimi had spent the Ashtami evening together at Maddox Square. The magic of Maddox never dies. People fall in love, they break-up their affairs, they get married, they get divorced, they die, so many things happen, but Maddox still remains the same.

In 2007, on Saptami, Rahul had spent the entire afternoon and evening outside the main gate of St. Xavier's College at the candle-light vigil for Rizwanur Rahman. That day was the last day of the vigil. Rupam Islam had also come to sing some songs in support of Rizwanur Rahman. From Park Street, Rahul and his friends came straight to Ballygunge Cultural. There he accidentally met Mimi who was with her friends. After some time the two group of friends decided to go to Maddox Square together and spend the entire night there.

On Ashtami evenings, practically all roads in Calcutta lead to Maddox. That is the place to be and be seen in. Maddox feels like heaven during that time. One gets to see the most beautiful women ever seen by mankind. One's life is worthless if he or she hasn't visited Maddox on an Ashtami evening. Young boys and girls sitting in groups and still singing Ranjana, Mary Anne, 2441139, Nilanjana, Phiriye Dao, Shei Tumi, Bhebey Dekhechho Ki and ofcourse the anthem Telephone, even after all these years. In the pre-mobile phone era, friends in groups used to get lost, wander off and again miraculously find each other.

Anyways coming back to our story, Rahul and Suchitra stayed at Maddox till dawn. They both bumped into many of their old school and college friends. This is the beauty of Maddox. Its guaranteed that if one stays there for some time then he or she will surely bump into old friends. Both Rahul and Suchitra looked very beautiful and elegant as a couple. But inspite of all the beauty and lavishness of Maddox, one sight really hurts Rahul very much. Poor little children beg with their mothers inside the Pandal and also throughout the huge ground. No matter how much money you give to these children, they keep coming back at you and keep on begging for more. Instead of giving them money, Rahul and Suchitra bought food for some of them. Around dawn they left Maddox and he dropped her home. Since Suchitra had insisted on wearing red on Ashtami therefore inside the cab Rahul insisted on wearing green on Nabami. Obviously for political reasons.

On Nabami, Rahul and Suchitra went to north Calcutta. This time Suchitra wore a green coloured salwar kameez and Rahul wore a green panjabi with black jeans. Suchitra finds it a bit difficult to walk in sarees, therefore she wore the salwar-kameez. Because in north Calcutta one has to walk a lot. They met in front of Central Metro station and first went to College Square. The only problem with College Square is that their puja committee members and volunteers don't allow to take pictures of Ma Durga. This is absolutely ridiculous. From there they went to Mohammad Ali Park. Throughout north Calcutta, Rahul and Suchitra visited Baghbazar, Sovabazar, Shyambazar, Kumartuli Park, Nalin Sarkar Street, Ahiritola, and various other pandals. 

Rahul and Suchitra walked hand in hand. He just loved the feel of her palm inside his palm. He just loved the way their fingers were entwined with each other. Every now and then he would mildly squeeze her palm. Dirty minds reading this Blog would think that Rahul must have wanted to squeeze something else too. Well, there actually were two very good, round and voluptuous reasons for the dirty minds to think this way, but believe me, that thought never crossed Rahul's mind. He was more interested in the companionship and the sense of togetherness.

They spent the entire night at north Calcutta. They kept on eating everything from chicken rolls to fuchkas to potato chips and kept on drinking everything from fruit juices to cold drinks. North Calcutta has its very own flavour. Rahul is a south Calcuttan but he truly believes that the Soul of Calcutta lies in the north. All those old dilapidated buildings and those narrow alleys were all brightly lit up. Rahul loves the windows and the balconies of north Calcuttan buildings. He especially loves those balconies. He has a weakness for top floor balconies of big old houses. Anyways around dawn they left north Calcutta and Rahul dropped Suchitra home in a taxi. 

On Dashami, Suchitra came to Rahul's place for lunch. That day's colour choice was black. She wore a tight black coloured Benetton top and black jeans. Rahul wore a black casual shirt and that black jeans. She met his mother. Rahul's mom cooked the most delicious lunch for them. After lunch, they both chilled out at Rahul's room. He switched on his laptop. There was Suchitra's picture as his laptop wallpaper. She really liked this gesture and smiled sweetly at him. Rahul transferred all the pictures that they had clicked together in the last four days through their phones to his laptop. He uploaded the pics of Ma Durga, puja pandals and pics of the brightly lit city on Facebook. Rahul also made her listen to the romantic songs of Kabir Suman. He promised her that one day he would surely take her to a Kabir Suman concert at Kala Mandir. After almost walking through the entire city in the last four days, both were too tired. In the evening they just went to South City Mall, which is very near to Rahul's place, and watched a romantic hindi film at FAME. After that they had pizzas at South City Food Court. Recently South City FAME has changed into INOX. 

Rahul hailed a cab and they went towards Suchitra's home to drop her. Inside the cab she put her left arm around Rahul's right arm and gently laid her head on his right shoulder. She closed her eyes, not because she was sleepy, but because she wanted to savour that moment and wanted that moment to sink in peacefully. Rahul held her right hand with his left hand. They sat very close to each other inside the cab, their hearts and souls were even closer. Rahul very gently put a kiss on her rosy lips. She didn't open her eyes. There was just a tiny hint of a smile at the corner of her lips. Her lips involuntarily kissed him back. Sometimes a thousand kisses are not enough to quench a lovers' thirst. And sometimes only one small gentle kiss is more than enough to quench that thirst for the next seven lifetimes...