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It’s time to feel Bengali again October 1, 2006

Posted by K in Uncategorized.

Puja is here. Actually its almost over, but what the hell. Today we do Puja things. Wear a saree, go pandal hopping and gorge self at Kashmere Gate this evening. Bliss. Also spend time at the bookstall in Kashmere Gate, balancing a plate of biryani in one hand, and a bottle of pesticide in the other.

Durga Puja is the one time I feel properly Bangali. I don’t dance/sing/enjoy weepy Rabindra Sangeet, and neither do I read/write much bengali (a fact AM chose to concentrate much on, during Interaction) Not that I need to feel bengali, but its just nice to occassiona…need to end post.To be continued.

Post continual(and tis a well fed bengali that continues..), no, there is no specific reason as to why I annually need to feel bengali, but it just makes me feel nice and good to…annually feel bengali. Its probably got to do with a sense of belonging in cosmo delhi, but I wont go into the question of identity and its construction now; that deserves a post(or rant) by itself.

Sarees are good. They make you feel like the most amazing person on earth. But that probably has a lot to do with the fact that I dont trip in my saree and take sadistic pleasure in watching grown(and ungrown) women battling their six metres(wrong length?Pretend its correct.). I feel exceptionally comfortable in a saree. Its like a second skin.That I don’t know how to wear one doesn’t take away from its sartorial supremacy. But I’m deviating; the focus of yesterday was Kashmere Gate. The biryani was, as usual,par excellence, as was the book store. I picked up a beautiful hardcover Ambai, a book on how the west has been portrayed in various indian literature, and a book of essays by early bengali women writers.

Ambai is amazing. I come the closest to worshipping her than I do any writer. I love her pieces and I love her personal life..or whatever little I know of it from interviews and from back pages. She is highly worshippable. So is SN. Hm. Wonder why I dreamt SN was Ambai in double disguise.

The book on indian perception of the west is interesting..will pick it up tonight. I’ve read a lot on how the east is problematically portrayed and perceved by the west, but very little on how the east has historically perceived the west. I’m looking forward to some stereotyping. I’m sick and tired of the East always being perfect-having perfect knowledge, better educational systems, better family system etcetera. I’m looking forward to some occidentalism as well.

The book on bengali women’s writings should be fascinating. There’s no Rashsundari, but I’m sure I’ll find her in the library. She’s in the third year course, as I found out. There were interestingly named essays, like ‘On how women should tie their show laces’, if ‘m not mistaken. The book’s been borrowed, so I’ll have to wait awhile before my first taste.

There were many interesting books in the stall (hail the blessed Kashmere Gate Puja stall!). (Oh, by the way, this was the 97th Puja at Kashmere Gate). There was Manto, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to possess Manto. Manto makes for disturbing reading. I like what I’ve read so far, but I don’t know if I can relive some like Khol Do. I guess my appetite for Manto will have to be satisfied from the college library; it has a pretty decent collection of his stories. Besides that, there was a lot of Mahasweta Devi, Tagore(but ofcourse! 🙂 ), many katha publications (HI’s Oorakali, which I’m yet to read), many many bengali authors in tranlation, many Sahitya Akademi publications…it was Heaven.

I came away from Kashmere Gate, inhaling the aroma of perfect biryani (six plates packed), savouring the feel of my purchases, and mentally trying to stretch out what was in effect, the last day of puja. This Puja did not really feel like Puja. There was no pandal hopping for three continuous days, no standing mesmerised and trance-like while the evening arati happened to the accompaniment of brilliant dhakis. I missed the dancing dhakis, as well as the evening programmes. Ah, what programmes they have! The best from all over the country perform- my most favourite memory is that of catching V. Balsara live twice. What a musician! What an amazing man! Hope he’s having a great after life!

Shubho Bijoya to all.



1. nilanjana - September 22, 2009

you can hate rabindra sangeet but to use weepy is quite derogatory….all the best….u still need to know the culture

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