After almost a decade that I was in Purnia for Durga Puja. Last time I was there when my son was born and going out to visit pandals was out of question.
This time, I took my son along promising him a visual treat during festival. He had never seen a 'Mela'(Fair), the way we had seen in our childhood. The scarcity of space in metro combined with the upsurge of malls has taken away the glitz from Melas, the enthusiasm from the children and adults alike during those old days is not be seen these days.
More so, we hardly see celebrations of Durga Puja in Bangalore. Those who have witnessed the celebrations in eastern part of the country feel let down in Bangalore.
My son was quite upbeat about the prospect of witnessing the fair and could not stop asking me how it would be. The expectation was set way high and here he was on his way to his Native. My parents were equally upbeat to have their grandsons at home during festival.
What he witnessed was very much like the projects being delivered. Expectations of the client and the reality do not match. So was the case here too.
To start with, there were eating restrictions. Both my wife and I were on fast; my parents were on restricted food - once in a day. Onion and Garlic were not allowed and talking about non-veg was a sin.
Whats the celebration for kids without salubrious food?
There were plenty of fruits in offing but of what use are those for the kid who proclaims - "fruits are for the Monkeys".
Rasagulla came as saving grace and became sort of staple diets for the kids.
Then came the matter of visiting Fair.
I had a vivid memory of fairs from the past where the energy level used to be high. There were various stalls selling different types of condiments, swings and carousels and other attractions which had the adrenaline high.
But the fairs were let down. at some places the fair was limited to some petty stalls selling food items, icecreams etc and at some places there were only the pandals to be visited.
At a place or two, due to space limitation, bigger carousals or ferry wheels could not be set. There were hardly any kids running from stalls to stall. I could not explain my son how I enjoyed the fair in those days when there were plenty of spaces and there used to be different types of stalls. The ice creams sold during those days were primarily the ice candies which used to melt slowly and used to color our teeth and lips. The aroma of food also seem to have changed.
On top of all these lacunae, rain played the spoilsport.
Finally at one of the fairs (in Tatma Tolly)we could find a ferry wheel, some carousals as well as some other attractions which finally my sons could enjoy. It was a good face saver for me. On our way back, the younger one could find some balloons, whistles etc of his interest, which brought the smile back.
Let's see when and how will be the next time.