The sixth day – Shasthi. . . yes! The day arrives with so much hope, excitement and revelry in store for the next few days.
First of all I should start by praising the Nature for giving such a bright and clear day for the start. Ah! What an ambience, no rains for the next few days with the possibility of some on Dashami but by then, the plethora of excitement would have receded and replaced by a quaint sadness. Even the weather cannot dampen my spirits now! The October Heat – come what may I am surely going to go pandal hopping.
So, all the protimas have been in the pandals and her boron has been done. Maha Shasthi, although officially the Pujo has started, I believe that the real one is only on Asthami and Navami. This year the Pujo has some absurd timings with the Asthami and other Puja’s taking place too early in the morning leaving a very narrow window for getting everything ready in time. I don’t know why this is and why does every year the timings change. This is a thing about Indian culture which will never get to me.
I have been reading the papers in the morning and found out that there is a pandal in Bagbera area which has been made with bits of glass and bronze with a cost of 20 lakhs. There was also a huge face of Buddha at the top which was created entirely out of bronze and glass by artisans from Medinipur. In the picture the whole setup was wonderful and inviting. I will try to visit it today if possible. And the others – the Adiyapur’s Jairam Youth Sporting Club, Kasidih’s Thakur Pyara Singh’s (sorry, I don’t remember the exact name. It is a long one) and Bhuiyandih’s Pandal as usual are big and beautifully tries to capture the architectural marvels of India and the World. It is really a pain to stand among the crowds, sweating, pushing and protecting your belongings in order to get inside. Once inside, the intricate details, the lighting and the ever beautiful protima of Maa Durga makes one forget all the obstacles endured. People are standing there in a trance, trying to take in as much as possible in their phones and cameras. Surely, Jamshedpur has got a better taste in the Pujo sphere. I am not exaggerating; this town is host to some 290 pujas this season. And I have got to visit them. It’s only Shasthi.
In the evening, I went to Rishi’s house and from there to ECC Flats, to pick up another friend. It was a triplie and although we were afraid of getting caught by the Police, we have been brought up in Jamshedpur long enough to know the by lanes and alleys to escape. I know that’s illegal but let’s not forget – its Pujo time. Shortly after we met Shaunak and Aditya, friends from my previous school (JHTS) and decided that tonight will be an eating-out day, the pandals can be seen later. Oh! What a time, what a time. Hanging out with friends on my very last Pujo celebration in Jamshedpur – it is an experience which just cannot be expressed in words.
We rode and rode and then came to Shambu’s shop in front of TMH’s Gopal Maidan gate. It’s a typical adda zone with coldrinks and South Indian shops dishing out dosas, idli and vadas cheap. The Mountain Dew and half an hour of serious adda session about our school, excursion and movies made us terribly hungry. Gosh! With Durga Puja one is bound to get hungry and being a Bong, the desire for food came out of my mind first. Egg Rolls, no we had them too much on normal days. Dosas, arre yeh to mummy ghar mein bhi banati hai! Thus a great debate ensured all for the sake of finding a suitable and cheap (my mother had given me Rs. 150 today with 20 rupees already spent on coldrinks) shop. And so Gujarat Corner it was. Near the Gujarati Sanatan Samaj and at the back of the Manimela Grounds in Bistupur was nestled a small shop setup by a Gujju probably 2 years back. I had never eaten at this joint and thought that since it was a clean place, there was no harm in experimenting. We ordered three plates of Chilli Chana and guessing that the price would be around 70 rupees. But no! It was only 40 rupees for half a plate! Now that’s a delight. The name was only half a plate but it fulfilled our hunger to a considerable extent.
Drinks done. Food done. Now time for some dessert. When you are in Jamshedpur, the only place to get a delicious ice cream which would not burn a hole in your pocket is none other than Softy Corner near the Bharat Petroleum petrol pump in Main Road, Bistupur. Another round of heated discussion took place on the choice of our dessert. Five cones and with taxes it came to only 150 rupees. Jamshedpur is still the place where you can get good things for cheap. Of course, I am leaving out Kolkata, it’s the hub of Durga Pujo in Eastern India and it cannot be compared.
And oh yes before I forget I need to mention the four calls that my mother made to me as soon I was well past my predetermined 7:40 time limit to return home. I am Class XII now but have my Boards next year and it cannot be ignored at any cost. By 9:15 I was back in my room solving Indefinite Integrals from R. D. Sharma.
Tomorrow will be the day when I shall visit some pandals and post some photos of it.
Postscript – For the bad quality of photos I could not do anything. My mother’s Samsung Galaxy Y Duos’ camera has very poor low light capabilities and it was the main culprit for all the noise in the pictures.