This little pig went to market

Haldirams @ 11 in the morning on Diwali

Had heard a lot of my local friends claim that a Mithai is not a Mithai unless its from Haldirams. I am not picky about my food, "aan do" is motto in life as far as food is concerned. So this Diwali, I did make a trip to Haldirams. Reached bright and early at 11:00 am and I had to stand in a line to reach the display counter, search for 15 minutes for my Khoya Anjeer mithai, make a bee line for the order receipt, stand in a queue to reach the cash counter, come back to the display counter and yes stand in line again to collect the mithai packet. But know what, it was worth it, the mithai was absolutely divine:)


Diwali 2009 was bittersweet for me. The reason being that this was my first Diwali after Bumli's death. Bumli Bora was a 40 kg Arunachali sheepdog and the only dog I knew who LOVED Diwali. For other dogs, Diwali was a time of sheer terror, when their well ordered lives with specific interludes alluded to as eating, playing, shitting and sleeping time gets disrupted. It is to dogs what the first day after change in roster is for a call centre professional.

For Bumli whose life was never well ordered (my mom even got a police trainer to instill some discipline. He left in a week!), Diwali was certainly not an F word. For her this was an extended treat time when she could sink her teeth into new goodies, which need not fall into the eatable category. It was a change of palate time - instead of the same old same old chappals, newspapers, bags, bra straps, chairs and cushions, she could feast on clay diyas (with or without oil), candles (normal or scented), dry fruits (plain or salted), fire crackers and their boxes, wrapping (plastic or organic), mithais and mithai dabbas et all. Lighting a fire cracker near Bumli was a hazard. The way she figured it, a bomb not only made an excellent replacement for the ho-hum ball, but it also made a fantastic noise within seconds of being thrown away. The pin wheel was even better. Not only did it look beautiful but it didn't disintegrate like the effing bomb. And getting the burning piece of leftover firework from Bumli's mouth was a task: when you wanted something to be in her mouth (like polycrol or Carmozyme) her mouth becomes a sieve. But when she has something you want, her mouth becomes an iron vise. Such is the schizophrenic ability of her mouth.

As a dog Bumli was every pet owners nightmare. She never listened to you, would respond only if she wants to, is absolutely unpredictable in front of guests, was all over you during dinner time, loved butter, ate only non veg and kept irregular hours (She used to sleep the whole evening after her "walk", so our bedtime was the shank of evening for her). All in all, she was perfect for us. Bumli was with us for only nine years, but during those nine years, she made the whole Bora household revolve around her. And in return for tolerating her idiosyncrasies, each member of the house was a recipient of sheer unadulterated love from her - absolute adoration during rainy days and stormy nights, peaceful summers and turbulent winters. So in her memory, this Diwali, I went and fed street dogs in Saket. Just a small way of showing that we still miss you.

Me feeding the street dogs (not a very flattering angle, I look 9 months PG)

Hum to aise hai bhaiya

On Navami (the day before Dusherra), I decided to brave CR Park for a dekko at the puja pandals. To tell you the truth, I was actually eyeing a scrumptious dinner at Babu Moshai, but you can't just make random dinner plans on Navami + I also needed an excuse as to why I was wearing what suspiciously looked like a bedsheet ( I do acknowledge that my maiden attempt at draping the five yards was a supreme failure). So off we went for the pujas' and then follows an obstacle course that closely resembles a simulated computer game.

Obstacle 1: Traffic. On Navami, the Bongs come out to play and then you finally realise just how many Chatterjis and Senguptas are hiding in the nook and crannies of Delhi.

Obstacle 2: Autowalla has a field day. Fleeces you and drops you right on the main road. His suggestion: "Madamji, jab main road pe chorne-chorne ke liye 70-80 rupaiye mil raha hai to CR Park ki traffic main kyu phase?" The man had a point.

Obstacle 3: Its Disco '82 out there. Every square inch of the good ladies attire is choc-a-block with chamak dhamak. Embroidered jeans, polyester kurta pyjamas, silver shirt with silver tie, all you could catch them all right here.

Obstacle 4: The cow has the right to watch the pujas too. Last heard India is a democratic country with all animal, plants and humans entitled to equal joy and suffering.

Obstacle 5: Watch your step! This sign was missing, but the message was the same. Unless you were careful, you could inadvertently step on one of the following - fresh cow dung, dog poo, chowmein, used ghugni plates, egg shells, et all.

Obstacle 6: Serpentine queues. To give the committee people their due, they did demarcate separate entry lines for gents, ladies and residential pass holders. What they don't understand is we Indians show a spectacular talent for indiscipline which is aggravated when we gather together in crowds. So no amount of instructions could stop Gents from breaking into Ladies lines.

Obstacle 7: No seating available @ Babu Moshai, minimum 1 hour waiting time advised the doorman. To add insult to injury, I heard someone order Butter roti and chicken (God bless the soul who has the guts to try typical Punju food in a typical Bengali restaurant).

Obstacle 8: Ordering a Meru cab to go home. By home, I mean a distance of 6 measly kilometers (Talk about the official atyachar of autowallas in Delhi).

During this entire sojourn, I must have walked a minimum of 12 kms. Must have burned at least 600 calories I tell you. Oh BTW....bought balloons too, monkey shaped ones at that.

Attack of the Aunties!

Durga Puja in Delhi certainly does not have the charm of the puja's back home. But there are somethings that even Geography can't alter. Witness this, on DP, I donned my bestest and brightest for the morning Anjali. Reached Kailash Colony Durga Bari and found my bestest and brightest seriously upstaged.

Not to be undone, I decided to brave the five yards in the evening. But the final effect was more "bedsheety" instead of the sophisticated image that I wanted to portray. Hoping that my attire doesn't succumb to irrantional gravitational pool and end up in a puddle right in front of the idol, I placed my odds with "manju pins' (I used the whole effing packet on the whole effing saree), and off to the Aarti I went. While I was making my way out after the 50 odd minutes of devotion, I was stopped by a Bengali lady with the following line:

"Apni bangla niki?" (are you Bengali?) And in the true spirit of pujo, I used my standard answer" Aami Assamese kintu ami Bangla bujte pai, aar ektu ektu

bolti pari" ( I am Assamese, but I can understand and speak a bit of Bengali). What followed was this:

BL: Acha, apnar bari kothai? (Where is your home?)
Me: Guwahati
BL: Aar family kothai? (where is your family?)
ME: Guwahati
BL: Apnar age ki? (what is you age?)
Me: Stioc silence (Age pe nahi jane ka)
BL: Apni married na unmarried? (Are you married or unmarried)
ME: Single
BL: Apni married na unmarried? (I don't think she understood the concept of "single")

By this time, a couple of other Bengali aunties in their brand new Tat sarees had already joined this converation. Turns out the lady was looking for a girl for her sister's son. By the likes of it very desparately too, otherwise among the bevy of item pieces you won't attack a poor soul who is literally holding on to her attire. Bowing out of the coversation with dignity was like taking a ball out of Bumba's (my adorable untrained Golden Retriever) mouth. But, retreat I did. So at the end Vishesh Tioni is this folks: you can take the Durga Puja out of Assam, but who's gonna take out the match fixing out of the Durga Puja?