Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Pujoy chai notun juto *

"Sasthi te ekta notun jama porish ontoto"**, my Mom tells me over the phone. And like always I assure her that I will. And even though I do not have the five days of Pujo to adorn myself in new sarees and jewellery, I will still wear a new t-shirt over my old and faded jeans when I go to work tomorrow. After all it is Sasthi. The first day of Pujo.

And much has been said about Pujo. The concept of Pujo, Pujo in Calcutta, Pujo overseas (probasi Pujo), missing Pujo, adapting to Pujo abroad, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And this year I wanted to make it a point not to lament about not being able to be in Calcutta during Pujo. Because over the years it is a fact that I have accepted. And honestly, I am in much better shape now than I was, when I first came to the US and had my first ever Pujo away from Kolkata. Back then one had to scour the internet for one brief image of Pujo back home. And now you do a search on google for Durga pujo and you can come up with a zillion links complete with images of pandals and Thakur and the latest information from Calcutta. If the internet has made the world smaller, then it has brought Pujo right to my doorstep.

So what do I miss so much about Pujo? The much anticipated dressing up in new clothes bit. The pre-Pujo excitement of shopping for clothes, for shoes that match the clothes, for jewellery that accessorize the outfit, hours of beating the crowds, braving the heat and the humidity, in the endless search for that elusive unique dress. When I was a kid we used to have our clothes tailored a month in advance. I remember those days when we would pour over catalogs picking out a style, a particular dress that caught our fancy and get the tailor to whip up something similar. Then there would be a day set out for fitting and trial, to have last minute adjustments, a nip here and a tuck there. And every year there would be a new fashion. If this year dhoti salwars were the rage, then the following year drain pipe churidars would reign. It was a constant dilemma trying to decide whether the dupatta would hang down the side over one shoulder or whether to have it draped across the nape of the neck. Whether the length of the kameez should come down to below the knees or stay halfway across the thigh. If ankle boots were cool or slingbacks were cooler. Whether we should get jewellery that was terracotta or ones that were oxidized metal. So much to choose from. And such important life decisions. Because there lay a thin line between being cool and being an outcast. And nobody wanted to tread the path of the uncool.

So we fretted and fumed and spent hours deciding, laying out outfits, planning out each day to the last detail. I would pick clothes based on what I had planned for the day. A day spent with friends walking from one pandal to the next across a few hundred miles meant comfortable shoes. So high heels have to wait for the day I spend sitting it out in Maddox square checking out other people. But then again, cannot get my heels all messed up in the mud that will be there in the park after a thunderstorm that almost washes out plans for the Pujo. Okay so the heels have to wait for the day when I go out for dinner with the folks. And then of course there is always the last minute change in plans. When your friend tells you that she will be wearing a saree for Ashtami's anjali, you have to cajole Mom into letting you wear her laal paar tangail so that you can be all grown up too.

Yeah, I miss all that action. The ladies fighting each other at Manohar trying to get their saree blouses ready before Pujo, people stomping over each other as they try to grab the tangail from Basak, the Puja sales and the mad shopping. I miss having ten different outfits to choose from. I miss having to decide between shoes and accessories. I miss having a hundred different things to do and a million places to go to during Pujo. I miss being in Calcutta during Pujo.

So now I make my own Pujo. There's no mad scramble for the perfect outfit, no crazy shopping, no interest in keeping up with the fashion. And I don't need a Hum Aapke Hain Kaun blouse to make it big on Ashtami evening. And I don't need to worry about my hemline. I can get by with what I have. But I still fret over what to wear on the two days that we celebrate Pujo in the US. I still lay out all the sarees that I have as I try to decide between the blue Baluchari, the red Bomkai and the golden Kanjivaram. And I love spending hours trying to accessorize with the right jewellery. Because dressing up and feeling good is such an integral part of Pujo. And I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Sharad Shubhechha to everyone out there!

* Want new shoes for Pujo
** Atleast wear a new dress for Sasthi

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38 Comments:

Blogger Sanjay said...

Nice post. I guess it's not as exciting for the male of the species is it?
Although I completely agree with the excitement about dressingup and looking good.
Well here is wishing ya a happy Pujo or happy festivus ;)

11:49 AM  
Blogger Jinguchakka said...

So a gathering planned for the coming weekend? :-)
And did you have to discard your car?

12:43 PM  
Blogger Bonatellis said...

pujo'r shubhechha :)

hmmm ... this bring back a lot of memories

12:52 PM  
Blogger Medha.. said...

Pujo time is here once again!

Me too going to wear a new something to college tomorrow. Even if isnt brand new.. its almost new!

I miss pujo back home. Have really fond memories of pujo in Bombay. Sigh!

Aanyways, pujo'r onek shubhechha jeno tumi! :)

1:25 PM  
Blogger Kausum said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Kausum said...

Pujo will be interesting this year. Will meet lots of Bongs at the pujo but not all :)

Notun Jama to porte hi hobe ...

Man ! I miss pujo back in Bombay, wish I could fly away today for the anjali and ofcourse the bhog.

Pujo'r subhechha sabaike!

1:55 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

maddox square? she to amar mamabari!

pujor subechha :-)

2:11 PM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ sanjay thanks! And wouldn't be more exciting for the male because he's the one who gets to feast his eyes on all the beauty around him? Why do you think there are so many equally dressed up men in and around the pandels? But since i'm not an authority on men's clothiing and all that I refrained from mentioning it :)
@ jinguchakka this year's Pujo dates have coincided with the upcoming weekend which is great. And the car still works *thank God for that*. Am taking it to the body shop this week.
@ bonatellis same to you too. And wonder what memories...hmm...
@ medha thanks and the same to you too. have a great time.
@ kausum we all miss Pujo from back home. But we all learn to cope and make do of what we have. Here's wishing you the very best for pujo and the year following it.
@ tabula rasa tai naki? Must have seen you around too ;)

2:37 PM  
Blogger Dreamcatcher said...

What would Pujo be without the dressing up and the new clothes...not even as half as exciting.
That was a wonderful post.
Sarad Subhecha to you.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Anyesha said...

Hey, we will be at the Sanskriti-DC puja in Gaithersburg and might drop by the Kali bari one too on Saturday. Planning on visiting any of those?

5:49 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

I dont have any new clothes for Pujo. Not one. And Im sick. And I am missing home. And..I am drowning in self pity right now. I shall go and curl up in a corner and be miserable :(

2:34 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

na re, unlikely. the only time i was i cal for pujo was in 1994. but mama's been involved with that one for the last forty years or more.

5:21 AM  
Blogger eXPerience called L!FE said...

Happy Durga Pooja!!

6:11 AM  
Blogger prachi said...

happy navratas dear...

hope you do enjoy it...

8:31 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ dreamcatcher you bet!!! You have a wonderful time dressing up and having fun.
@ anyesha we haven't decided which one we are going to. We have friends going to Sanskriti and Kalibari. And there's one in Fairfax too. If I see you I'll come over and say hi :)
@ ron ki hoyechhe tor? You cannot be miserable during Pujo. So cheer up and get well.
@ tabula rasa yeah pply involved there are long time residents and take personal pride in the pujo. its like barir Pujo. I love the Pratima there.
@ shashaank thanks! And happy dussehra/ navratri/ pujo to you too!
@ prachi thank you and the same goes for you.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous KK said...

Pujo'r Subhechha! Have fun !!!

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pujor shubhechchha! Nice nostalgic post. :)
Unfortunately this time I've to chop potatoes and stir 'khichuri' for the pujo. :( Someone dragged me to the puja-meeting!

Panchu

1:45 PM  
Anonymous MM said...

I guess, you dont worry about shopping for clothes to keep with latest fashion, coz they dont exactly have a Fall Collection Wear for Salwars and Sarees at Ann Taylor. :P

2:51 PM  
Blogger Rimi said...

M, link korchhi :-)

7:28 PM  
Blogger Mike Todd said...

Sharad Shubhechha to you, too! (Ctrl+c, Ctrl+v makes me bilingual.)

10:26 PM  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Happy Puja to you too! :-)

12:51 AM  
Blogger Kausum said...

Saw thakur @ Washington Kalibari. Its simple and beautiful.

1:24 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ kk thanks and the same goes for you.
@ panchu chopping potatoes and giving a hand at the khicuri might be better than signing in new members for pujo. And you get brownie points for helping with the bhog prep.
@ mm well thank God for that.
@ rimi dekhchhi dara.
@ mike hey nice seeing you here again. And thank you! I'm kinda amazed that you picked the right phrase to copy paste too! That really blew me away :))
@ ghostoftomjoad thanks and the same to you too.
@ kausum I've heard that the pujo there is very authentic and nice. But extremely crowded.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Cacophoenix said...

You should start a new blog to just teach people Bengali.. I have been in calcutta for one Puja Holiday.( Kolkotta feels wierd it is like saying calcutta with a rosgulla in the mouth). I was stunned by the grandeour of the celebration. Of course the highlight of the event was the amount of food we ate. Happy Pujo Hols...

9:41 AM  
Anonymous KK said...

Ha Ha Ha ! (had to)

9:56 AM  
Blogger Shankari said...

Very similar experiences for Diwali! Tho I am just back from India, miss being there for Diwali.

11:12 AM  
Blogger DD said...

sharod shubechchha! :)

12:53 PM  
Blogger Ghetufool said...

shuvo sharodiya, i am in calcutta now. enjoying calcutta to the hilt.

3:44 AM  
Blogger Bidi-K said...

i wore a new t-shirt too :) thanks for the wishes, and pujor sharadiyo shubechha to you too!

7:34 AM  
Blogger Prerona said...

and to you too sweetheart :)

8:48 AM  
Blogger GettingThereNow said...

Happy Pujo to you M. Your post made me remember how we celebrated Diwali at my parents' house. Nothing grand like your Pujo, but I still remember the warmth, the gaity, the new clothes, the sweets.

11:24 AM  
Blogger vuttaa said...

then it has brought Pujo right to my doorstep. or is it deskTop?? :) nevermind. good to see this post being featured on the telegraph article. darooon!!!

6:50 PM  
Blogger Medha.. said...

Hii!

Shubho Bijoya! :)

3:06 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ cacophoenix you are welcome anytime to come for bengali lessons here :)
@ kk hmm
@ shankari you are back...how was your trip?
@ dd and the same goes to you.
@ ghetufool oh you lucky guy. have a wonderful time.
@ bidisha birds of a feather :))
@ prerona thanks!
@ gettingtherenow well its all in the nostalgia. Whatever warms the heart...
@ vuttaa hey thanks for letting me know. Although I really don't think this post was good enough for that mention. But still....I'm happy.
@ medha Shubho Bijoya to you too!

10:41 AM  
Blogger Rimi said...

Tomakeo. Eibaar toh notun post lekho?

12:58 PM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ rimi likhlam to...shortcut but likhechhi :)

1:01 PM  
Blogger Joy Forever said...

Nice nostalgic post. This year I had to spend Pujo here in Hyderabad, and I missed the Bengal Pujo too. Whatever you do, wherever you go, you can never get that same feel anywhere else. And Shubho Bijoya to you!

4:27 PM  
Blogger Aparna said...

Very rightly said...that is one of the main reasons I almost always go home for pujas - to wear new clothes, when others wear them too...else it is not much fun!!

5:10 AM  

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