(This article was first published on 31 August 2017. It is being reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark the beginning of Navratri.)
Durga Pujo has this wonderful, intrinsic ability to create T-Rexes out of hamsters. You know the bespectacled chap in your neighbouring cubicle? He’s probably spoken two words to you in two years. You probably ran a trolley over his feet once, because you didn’t know that seat was taken. Well, tough.
But come September, he’s going to turn into a lean, mean, mangsho-eating spectacle with legs that have the ability to stand in gargantuan queues for hours and smoke fifteen joints in five seconds, and you’re going to feel like a doozy.
Here’s how this particular creature operates. (You may want to take notes, in case you’re checking around corners with a Bong-shaped bong. Geddit? Geddit?)
(Too caught up to read? Listen to the story:)
The Bong sniffs out airline prices without fancy apps. Hours of relentless searching is for fools. The Bong is well-equipped MONTHS in advance. You will find them in their natural habitat, casually flicking through the Trivagos of the world, picking a discount here, plucking (out) a stray fish bone there.
No Bong waits till the last minute, unless they’re otherwise cornered. The Bong hunts their prey down a year in advance (once the last Durga idol has submerged in waters) and get to buying their tickets (at least) six months before. Office leaves? Other plans? Pfft. Lesser details.
They can be made to cry at the first sound of the Mahalaya (a special that you can hear on the radio/watch on the telly on Day 1, Pujo). If a Bong has migrated outside of his/her natural habitat, chances are, the sounds of home will reduce them to blubbering, blithering souls.
The Bong was raised on a healthy diet of Birendra Krishna Bhadra and muri-chini in the days leading up to Pujo and the call is hard not to respond to. One NRB (Non-Resident Bong) as far as Houston – known to yours truly – reported sobbing into his cheese-toast on a perfectly regular Sunday, much to the bewilderment of his non-Bong college mates.
(For anyone willing to understand what makes a Bong mawkish, here is fodder:)
They empty barrels of booze and cartons of stuff: The Bong accumulates their game weeks in advance and sets to perfecting the kill. There is enough eating-drinking-rolling material to last five days and five nights (and then some) – and plans for a dual life are set in motion.
Mornings must be spent feasting on bhog and bhuribhoj (filling a belly); evenings on the smiling Monk and his denizens. Much of the days and nights after are spent nursing one’s head and one’s stomach simultaneously, and doing away with incriminating evidence.
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