Thursday, March 19, 2009

Go Green !

Officially our Brookside Gardens monthly brochure says Tue, 17th March is St Patrick's Day , but we'd forgotten all about the parade to take place here, on Main Street, on 15th March since it's a Sunday and everybody would actually be able to participate. I was a bit taken aback by the merrymaking over Durga Puja here, which seemed to be taking place over a period of several weekends rather than on the panjika-designated 5 auspicious days, which we'd been accustomed to, since childhood. Convenience seems to be the keyword here rather than custom. I wonder how NRIs of Indian origin explain pujo to their children, the occasion losing so much of its authenticity of appeal or mythical mysticism by taking place consecutively at one weekend at Plainsfield, another at Edison and so on. In any case, it's not so much of a manifestation of divinity as a regulation reunion of sorts. One of the few occasions you get to wear a saree, deck up in your marriage jewellery and stand patiently in a queue to partake of bhog. And then go back to routine jeans-tee life the next day.

Anyway, I diverge. K and I were out for a walk on Sunday, trying desperately to lose our carefully cultivated winter fat, and providing updates on our respective mobiles to Sushmit and Ma of our not-so-eventful life. We were on our way home when we noticed a lot of people, entire families in fact, decked up in green ormamentation of quite a noticeable variety and all apparently headed for the Main Street, cameras, tents and water bottles in tow, despite the highly overcast sky. We rushed home, changed into green (I wore a green-black horizontally striped tee while K donned a green sweater), grabbed my camera and a water bottle and walked rapidly to the aforementioned centre of attraction. The entire town seemed to have descended on the scene. People had shown up in anything green they possessed, which ranged from green jackets or shirts or jeans or cardigans to green necklaces, green shades, green hats, green shoes, green streaked hair, green shamrock brooches, green wristlets. We even spotted numerous small dogs of all varieties possible decked up in green dresses (or whatever you'd prefer to call those items of apparel). There were even streetside vendors with green hued popcorn (bleh), green-tinted hot dogs (meh) and huge carts of green accessories, balloons and hats and dolls and streamers and fake furs and trumpets and what not.

My camera battery gave way much before the event actually started, which is why I don't have too many photos of the parade itself to show you. Basically, all the schools and clubs and committees and communities and squads and groups turned up in full force and more memorably, in uniform, to make the event a real spectacle. Young boys and girls from the local martial arts club strod past, very prim and proper. Middle aged men and women in cream and green cable-knit sweaters from the local dance school simpered and twirled along the grey road. Schoolbus loads of gaily waving champions of the Immaculata School basketball and wrestling competitions, tapdancing teenagers in black tanktops and lyotards creating a panorama of dancing flags in various shades of green and brown, schoolgirls dressed in fuschia dresses and tights performing a flag dance with bright green and yellow festoons, tiny tots who were simply small and sweet passed by in teeny weeny carriages past the madly cheering spectators. War veterans marched along with badges and brooches pinned on their spick and span uniforms, the local police musicians trumpeted by to the American national anthem while early Irish settlers of Somerville played their hornpipes, all very colourful in kilts and socks. Even the local fire brigades, rescue squad and paramedics' vans all slowly drove past, all freshly painted and adorned with balloons, streamers and ribbons. Certain parts of the procession involved throwing fistfuls of candy at the younger spectators, which met with immediate appreciation in the form of toddlers and teenagers gleefully running to and fro to snatch up the trophies and rush back to the safety of their guardians' sides, big grins plastered on their faces. But the highlight of the day was a trained and highly disciplined group of gigantic Irish greyhounds who walked past with their justly proud owners, a study in serenity. I was really upset at my dysfunctional camera at that moment. It was a moment worth capturing on film.

The main street bore a festive but uncluttered look as residents stood/sat patiently on either pavement, eager and enthusiastic onlookers who cheered when they spotted an acquaintance in the procession or identified a known officer among the numerous administrative personnel who allowed a glimpse of their most informal sides that day. Dogs or children, men or women, they all stood patient and expectant without any of the rude jostling that so characterises Kolkata crowds at Pujo pandals or mass revelries. It was an interesting experience that left a sweet green taste in the mouth.

P.S. Please click on each photo to view its enlarged version.

1 comment:

Sujoy Bhattacharjee said...

Nice pics. But next time remember to take spare batteries :)

As for the jostling in Pujo pandals in Kolkata, deep inside don't you miss it?


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