The vanquishers

The Durga Puja in Kolkata used to be ‘para’ or a neighborhood activity, which was the epicentre of exchanging news to fixing alliances.
Ila Dorairaj Naidu & Sabrina Dey
Ila Dorairaj Naidu & Sabrina Dey

BENGALURU: If one has even an iota of Bong blood coursing through their veins then this time of the year will make you feel and do things that you would never imagine yourself doing! Anyone who saw my sindhur-laden forehead, red-stained feet and my saree worn Bangla style could never have put my sophisticated and ethnic avatar together! Instinctively, I started to use Bengali terms (much to the amusement of my non-Bong family) and I dived headfirst into the ‘Duggo-duggo’ spirit of things. I was amazed to see that we ‘Bongs’ are everywhere! And with us travels our culinary talent and Durga Puja.

Madhushree & Anindiya Basu
Madhushree & Anindiya Basu

The Durga Pujo in Kolkata used to be ‘para’ or a neighborhood activity, which was the epicentre of exchanging news to fixing alliances. Of course it was also the time of the year for older aunts to display their culinary skills. The food dished out (gratis) for six days at the pandals was awesome. Now the pandals teem with people from all walks of life who come to immerse themselves in the grandeur of ‘woman-shakti’ as the ‘mother’ vanquishes the demon and good triumphs over evil. In times like this we need to believe…we need to know that ‘Ma’ returns every year to annihilate the iniquitous, while the women dance, and play ‘sindhoor khela’ (vermillion is smeared on each other and thrown in the air with abandon) to signify that ‘awl is well’ once again.

I was slated to fly to Mumbai to see my munchkin, as she is growing up so rapidly and also because she’s the most magical ‘lil-un’ to have entered my life. Her mere presence has put my priorities into perspective and she certainly tops it! I love playing ‘glamma’ and the smart-cookie knows that nothing is off limits for her, including my expensive makeup and designer bags. My daughter frowns at my indulgence but the way I see it…why do I have to do the disciplining? She has her parents to do that!

Just before my impending departure to the ‘ultimate-city’, I chose to attend the Bengali festival at the Grand Mercure because my good friend Sachin Maheshwari had blocked my dates well in advance. He didn’t need much persuasion because I was thrilled that the very popular food bloggers/writers/ photographers Madhushree and Anindya Basu were the ones who had master-minded this festival.

We were a small table of discerning epicureans (not the usual bunch but food enthusiasts from in and around the vicinity and hotel guests) who were thrilled at the homeliness of the meal (Pikturenama’s speciality). I had a ‘Tam- Bhram’ couple on my table who relished the food thoroughly! There couldn’t be a better example of conjoining India through her varied cuisines!

I love living on the edge. If driving all the way to JW Marriott Golfshire for a garden-party luncheon just a few hours before my flight, with no packing done, (I was going to be away a solid 15 days), my home to be left at the mercy of ‘my boys’ and hordes of incomplete paperwork, is not cutting it fine, I don’t know what is!

I am so glad I went. The ambiance was fantastic with bushels of flowers adorning our table, the company was scintillating and the food divine.Chef Rawoot and his team sourced the super-fresh produce from their gardens and nearby farms. With a choice of lobster, duck, finest meat and freshest veggies to choose from, he made being ‘sustainable’ look so super-sophisticated.
A head full of fears has no space to dream…

(The writers’ views are their own)

Rubi Chakravarti

Writer, actor and funny girl

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