Saraswati Puja. And hurrah - I actually got a day off. No field visits, no on-going training session. That meant adda at a friend's. It was a particularly cold day and yet the roads were lined with jubak and jubotis resplendent (shiveringly so) in sarees and kurtas. Braving the cold. Oh yes. Saraswati puja is valentines day for the bengali school and college going youth, much before valentines day itself became fashionable. Same in Assam, my assamese colleague confirmed!
My schooling was not in Bengal and so we (children of expats) didn't know about that. Ofcourse some of the the tradition followed us to expat lands. Dont eat kool before saraswati puja. Which struck me as odd. What is "before saraswati puja?". And keeping your school books, pen, pencil at the altar and getting them blessed! Ofcourse we never had saraswati puja at home. But we did go over to other friend's home - once or maybe twice. And briefly in Q8 where a few families had a puja to which they didnt invite us - as if not wanting to share out the goddess' blessings. They chose to inform us after the puja was over. Hmmm...maybe that could be the reason for my less than brilliant academic career?!
I reached my KD's place to find a puja in full swing in his building complex. So it was good adda and great bhog from the puja downstairs - khichudi, labra, tomato chutney, aloo bhaja, payesh and rassogolla. And the garnish? 6 pieces (2 apeice) of deep fried yummy ilish mach from KD's fridge!
K the other friend and I dug in. KD the host however took only one piece and insisted I take another. At first I thought he was being host-ly and resisted (ever so briefly). But greed won and I had a third piece. Ah! Soon, we crept away bellies full of khichudi and ilish mach...to our respective homes and crawled under our respective leps. I felt slightly guilty (about the non veg gluttony). But hey, no more academics for me to worry about. So illish was not only OK. It was great.
Later on KD's wife told me that he felt guilty as he suddenly remembered his daughter's imminent exams and stopped at one! Lucky me, then?
PS - Immediately, within a day or two, I had an auto accident. And then I went to Assam and returned with a severe respiratory tract infection which I took to be the Duck's revenge. Was it?? I wonder.