Friday, September 25, 2009

Sharodiya Shubhechha - Happy Durga Pujo For The 'Non-Bengali's

While most of you in Bengal will be busy deciding upon which pair of new clothes to wear on this Shoptomi (Day 1 of the Pujo) evening, I am blogging from my office in Gurgaon, getting ready to go for 'What's Your Rashee?' in sometime and missing home and Pujo.

This post by Arnab (Greatbong) whetted the Pujo appetite, more so because this too was written from an out-of-Bengal perspective. After spending Shoshti at DLF Bengali Association's Pujo, Gurgaon I figured that if you are not in Poschim Bongo (West Bengalo) - Markin Juktorashtro (United States of America)  & Gurugram (Gurgaon) are more or less the same.

The Gurgaon Phase 1 Pujo is in fact one of the better examples of a Pujo I could find to show Veni. This was her first experience of Durga Pujo. And we know we should have gone to Asansol/Kolkata this year but due to the disappearance of 80% of my team and my leave a few months back her introduction to the Bangali Pujo had to be postponed by a year.
Coming back to the one in Gurgaon, it is a very well organised one by the Bangali families in and around DLF City, and has been going on for many years now. Yes, I forgot to note when it started. It is organised in the DLF Community Centre, and the protima (idol) is placed in the club house, so one does miss the entire elaborate pandals, but it has the Bharati-Bhaban (those from Asansol-Burnpur will know what I mean) feel to it. The protima (shown above) is not ekchala, and this year a golden varnish has been applied to the idols.

The dhakis (ones playing those drums to the right) come from Bengal every year and frankly there is not much difference in their performances here and back home. Besides, they are a most friendly bunch!
 And of course, how can a Durga Pujo be complete without the 'cultural programme'?:) Gurgaon doesn't disappoint there as well! There is a fully packed four day programme ending with an extravaganza by the Bangali rock band - Bhoomi. The program list is provided below, I think only the bishorjon ceremony is quite conspicuous by it's absence. I have half a mind to go and take part in the 'Qweej' (which for some odd reason is spelt as 'Quiz' here). We couldn't catch much of the Shoshti (day 0 of the Pujo) function, but plan to do so on Oshtomi (Day 2 of the Pujo)along with the anjali.


Finally, the main part of the Pujo - the food! While driving back last evening my wife observed that she has not come across any other Indian festival where everything else takes such a distinct backseat compared to the food, and I think she was bang on. While rewinding through the memories of the pujos gone by I realised that the lasting impressions have indeed been of the mansgher ghugni and phuchka competition and of course the pretty women, rather women looking their prettiest, whether most of those were pretty in absolute terms is a question that can pass.

The DLF pujo organises an Anondo Mela (sort of a community fair) where families bring home cooked food, set up stalls and sell them, and by far is the biggest attraction of the Pujo here.

The spread included - korai shutir kochuri (peas kachori), aloor dum (Dum  Aloo), dorbesh (a kind of sweet), peethe (another kind of sweet), manghsor ghugni (a form of mutton and chholey), aloo kabli (tangy potatoes), dim er devil (devilled eggs), chicken biriyani (kolkata style with a whole boiled potato), mishti paan, egg roll, chicken roll, chicken momo, papri chaat, sandesh, machher chop (a kind of fish snack), Mughlai Porota and many more. Oh yes, we did try most of the ones mentioned above and thus have forgotten the rest, though they were no less by any means.

My friend, Dhiman (with me in the picture) and his family have been putting up a stall every year without fail, and this time it was the kochuri-aloor dom, machher chop, dorbesh and peethe one. The 80 rupees was well spent on the food from their stall:)

Besides this there is also a commercial area where there are stalls set up by eateries and restaurants, some well known names like Nizam's roll and Biriyani. The handloom and other allied stalls also make their presence felt.

 You can watch this roll being made in the video below. The amount of chicken he added to the roll would have been considered blasphemous by any self respecting roll-chowmein wallah of Bengal. But then again, that same roll wallah wouldn't dream of charging Rs. 60 for a roll.

If you are in Delhi NCR I would recommend you give this pujo a visit, and if you are cooling your heels in Bengal, then good for you! Wherever you are, wishing you season's greetings during this magical time of the year. I promise I saw some kash phool on my way to Delhi and that 'Pujo Pujo bhab' is present in some form here too!

P.S: That deem-er devil on Veni's plate was just as good at it looked:)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dil Bole Hadippa - Review

This is a first for me, reviewing a movie from the theatre, 45 minutes into
it. And it's not because I am suddenly fascinated by mobile internet but
because the only other option is to watch the movie, which frankly is not
much of an option.

I came with low hopes and shallow expectations, after all the movie has been
universally panned, but DBH has gone under and below those standards.

The ending and everything else is predictable from act 1 scene 1, that is if
you don't consider the teasers, posters or the title itself. Punjab, mustard
fields, audio collage of ex-Yash Raj strains, cricket, India-Pakistan,
Indian > NRI, thousands of extras in bright costumes, loud characters,
Anupam Kher as the avuncular old man and every other stereotype which was
charming during DDLJ and has lost all sheen over the last decade and half
due to excessive and manic milking.

The plot - Rani Mukherjee is a cricket crazy Punjabi village belle who wants
to play for the local team that plays against the Pakistani local team every
year during Independence Day. India has lost the match 9 years in a row, and
Anupam Kher - the owner of the Indian team - calls over Shahid Kapur, his
son and a smashing cricketer playing in England, to build a team. Veer/Veera
(Rani) is not allowed to be a part of the same because of her gender, so she
goes in the disguise of being a sardar.

We just went into intermission, and as far as the ending goes your guess is
as good as mine, and both, I am sure, are mighty good!

The only difference between us is you will now move to another tab perhaps
with some pity for me, and I will spend the next hour or so watching the
movie as I don't have the review to keep me busy any more.

Before you sympathise with me any further and think of me as the boy who
lost everything, let me tell you that last Friday a friend challenged me to
a TT match, the bet was two movie tickets of my choice or his. I won the
matches and the bet but made a terrible choice of the movie.

Oh yes, the movie had some message about women's equality, having the Indian
heart in the right place and a few others I'm sure. And yes, it had Shahid
Kapur's name before Rani's in the credits in a movie for, of and about Rani
Mukherjee, some respect shwon to the woman.


Sent from my Blackberry Wireless Device

Friday, September 11, 2009

Making Your Own Font

The idea of having a font made from my own handwriting has intrigued me ever since I was introduced to MS Word and the world of fonts. But I had resigned to fate, assuming that I had to either become the next big thing in calligraphy or needed to build a brand as big as Cadbury's to have my wish fulfilled.

However, a few days back I stumbled upon this site which made my long time wish come true - And the simple logic implemented behind the technology is praiseworthy.
You will find the easiest step by step guides on the site. I am producing some screenshots of how I made my font in case you want the proof of the pudding before the eating.
Step 1: Download the blank form template (shown below) from the site. This basically includes all characters which you need to fill out with a sharp black marker.

Step 2: Filling out the characters. Below I have put my scanned copy of the same.

And we are almost done. Now we just need to upload this file (.jpg or .png) and we have our own home grown font!
Seeing my font on screen I was expecting to be beeming with pride after the age old wish coming true. However, all I felt was a sense of shame for having never taken my parents' and teachers' repeated warnings to improve my hand writing. But I have promised to myself that just to have an enviable font made after my writing style, I will again pick up the pen and rough pads and start scribbling.
Here's how the font will look like. Well, should be much better for most of you:)