Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Bengali In Thane

I have been in Thane since 2001. I do remember the time I used to come to Mumbai from Nashik. The state roadway buses to Kasara and from there the "VT Local". Sometimes I used to take the infamous "Asiad" buses back. That journey back to Nashik started from a point near the "Teen Hath Naka". Never thought that I will settle down in Thane. Extended Mumbai but not Mumbai.
As the 2001 calendar was approaching October, my Bengaliness within had germinated by then because the Durga Puja was knocking the doors. I had to show off my new set of "Panjabi" and jeans to the Bengali Community. I went off looking for people who are Bengali staying in Thane, I knew none. The phone call from distant Calcutta reminded me that "tomorrow is Shasthi". I assured the caller (my mother) that I will in my puja attire. The day was there and I was off to work. By lunch I decided that I should move out and look for some "Pujo Mondop" and get going. I rushed back home and dressed for the evening. But where do I go? In my quest for the Pujo Mondop, I jumped into the auto-rickshaw and tested the fella's GK on Bengalis in Thane. Maa Durga was also eager to see me, the fella passed the test. He mentioned a few locations but was eager to take me to Gamdevi Ground. Being near to the Thane railway station, it was easier for him to do some more business. I agreed and in few minutes I was at the gate of the Puja. I was happy that I was being noticed, though I knew none of the folks there, I was in a domain where I assumed people speak Bangla. I was amazed to hear the language of some kids. It was fusion - Bengali, Hindi & English, all being mixed like a seasoned DJ. I couldnt help trying to know more about the Pujo. In my conversation with some college going kids (the conversation was in Hindi), I picked up addresses of other Pujo Mandaps in and around Thane. Good, with my new list I sailed throgh the Puja days. At time having Khichudi, Payesh and Tomato Chatni as Bhog at some pandel and having chicken roll, bhetki macher chop and even Jhaal Muri at others.
Being a bachelor and staying in hostels and shared rooms, helped me adapt various food habits. Life was on, as the years passed and all the social essentials were done. The days changed and my better half was instigating my bengali taste buds. The dormant bengali within was live again. It was happening - padba, tangda, ilish, koi, laal shag, shukto et all. After I ran out of the Kolkata luggage - Shubra Kashundi, Jharna Ghee etc, my quest for these began because I didnt had many people coming from Kolkata. A gentleman was kind enough to tell me that a small shop near Talaopali had it all. You name it and they have it types. Desperate to smell the Jharna Ghee I reached the shop to find the one stop shop for all Bengali groceries, but the catch was price. The prices grew in direct proportion to distance from Calcutta. Nevermind at least they have it. The day coming soon when we needed a Purohit Moshai for our Griha Probesh. The quest began and this time we had some handy search engines who were like ready reckoner for Bengali stuff in Thane. Oh the food had to be bengali style not the typical Panjabi. It was done. Years passed by and the little girl was ready to have Hathe Khori. There is a lovely Maa Kali Mondir, common venue for many benagli pujas. The Saraswati Puja of 2005 was the time when she wrote Officialy. Its been a good time in Thane. We have been to various Pujas and know many Maha-Bengali. There are alignment of most of them to certain club or certain puja, somehow we kept ourselves away from alignment, because it would be politically incorrect. The idea of penning down some lines of how the years have been in Thane is to share with people what a new Bong Chap in Thane does when he starts living here.

1 comment:

TIRTHANKAR said...

It was an excellent display of writing from our Sudip da. Hope he rocks in the days to come!:)