1st October ‘ 2014
After getting ourselves off to a blistering start on Day 1, where we scored more Pujas than expected, the Day 2 began with light rain. We had left our pavilion at around 9:30 to reach Manicktala Chaltabagan Lohapatty, our first spot for the day. True to it’s theme, ‘Memorial of Remembrance’, it showcased the visions of life during the evolution of the world, producing the entire mandap out of tin sheets.
It was perhaps the least noisy but probably the laziest morning of the trip.The trams, which were introduced in the 1860s added so much heritage charm to the view that it was time for us to sit down somewhere and relish the surroundings. A tea stall had chaiwalas preparing ‘kulhad vaali chai’ on coal fire. It was the perfect stop, or you can say, the perfect spot for morning tea. The rain had almost stopped & there was gentle breeze, helping the crows gather and chatter around the space. Suddenly, a hand-pulled rickshawala caught our eyes. At our request, he let us pull it for sometime and try out interesting things with it. After taking him around for a short round, we paid him 20 bucks. It was the first time I thought we were actually buying happiness. Moving ahead, we sat at another stall, having delicious Jhaal Sev Puri to gain energy. The energy doubled when a sweet little local girl walked across the street to see us eat and take a picture with us.
After enough energy settled our stomach, it was time to meet Durga again. We followed our map to reach Kumartuli Park, the most vibrant big banner mandap in North Kolkata. Hey Wait ! No ! I am missing something. How can I forget Sandhani, which is the oldest of the lot & undoubtedly had the best murti till the end of the journey. All the idols were shaped up like the sculptures of the Egyptian mummy. It met us by accident as it was on the way to Kumartuli Park, where the gargantuan traffic jam made us wait for 2 hours before the darshan. I wondered why it was just called a park, when Kumartuli actually occupied a huge ground, giving us a complete ‘mela’ (fun-fair). We walked through all the stalls, rides, hot-air balloons making ourselves comfortable with multi-coloured kulfi (prepared with a giant roller machine scraping the kulfi out) , Mughlai Paratha (served with the exact proportion of egg slice,onion& ginger), then Lassi (served in a kulhad with jelly bean pieces on top), then paan (Banarasi nahi Bengali !). We were hungry, not for food anymore, but for more Pujos to be covered. It was 4:30 p.m. & we had just covered 3. The run-rate was pathetic.
As we drove towards Ahiritola Sarbojanin Durgotsav, we met many another small scale Pujos guiding our way through the cramped but vibrant streets, glowing & bustling with activity. The mechanical and spiritual implications of TIME, Ahiritola’s theme was innovatively illustrated in the décor of the entire setup.
The main attractions from North Kolkata were done. We were slowly moving towards Central Kolkata. It was time now, to meet the Sachin & Sourav of the Durga Pujo stadium. Two big bannered pujos, namely Mohammad Ali Park & College Square, both oppositely placed, had unending queues, miles away from the actual pavilion. We were up for it. The queue was moving fast, thanks to the Kolkata Police, who were managing it beautifully. In almost half an hour, we were at the gate of College Square. For the first time, I was enjoying the sweat. Witnessing a really picturesque setting beside a lake, we could see the whole area illuminating with sparkling lights and their reflections on water. Dead tired, but still immensely energetic, we were now in the second serpentine queue which lead towards Mohammad Ali Park. Quick!Quick!Quick! Cholun Dada, Taraataari ! Move it! Move it! The crowd in the queue was turning impatient. Everyone was curious as to what’s inside the huge mountain-like structure depicting various faces of Lord Shiva. Woah ! Oh My God ki kasam ! Any normal Durga idol had 5 members, excluding the mahishasur. This one had 10. The entire stage hosting the idol was beautifully carved in earthy colors. Astounded by the artwork of the artisans, we stood like statues for a few minutes, staring at every piece of the pratima, which was already so unique in itself. Classic experience ! Men with dholaks & an array of chat stalls surrounded us as we came out of the pandal. Finally, our bodies demanded rest. Even after a slow start, we ended the day on a high, leaving us fully satisfied.