When we asked him whether he’s found time to go shopping with his wife prior to the Puja, he said, “No, I know I should have taken her out, but I just didn’t manage the time.” With Maha Navami being celebrated today, Pritam talks to CS about Durga Puja and his favourite memories associated with it.
In a festive mood
I love to go pandal-hopping. The two pandals I regularly visit are Kallol Kalibari Pujo and Mukherji Bari Pujo at Juhu. I always give ‘pushpanjali’ on Maha Ashtami Day. I try to take some time out, so that I can eat the bhog as well. On Ashtami, my singer friends like Shaan, Mohit Chauhan and others came to Juju for Devi darshan. So yesterday was a lot of fun. I am very attached to these two pujo pandals. Kallol Kalibari Pujo is like my ‘pada’ i.e. locality celebrations. So, I spend a lot of time there. I also frequently visit D N Nagar at Andheri and Shivaji Park at Juhu. This time I wanted to go to Borivali Pujo as well but since I was in town only on Saptami and Ashtami, I had limited time on hand.
My entire childhood was spent in Kolkata. During Durga Puja, our life was centered around our ‘pada’ pujo. Our locality used to be abuzz with excitement from a fortnight before the start of Durga Puja. We used to go pandal-hopping all night. We used to hire a car on Ashtami and Navami nights. On Ashtami night, we would visit all the pandals in South Kolkata, and end our trip at Kalighat. On Navami night, it was North Kolkata, with the trip ending at Dakshineshwar.
Life in Kolkata comes to a standstill during Pujo — it’s not the same in Mumbai. Here we feel the festive atmosphere only when we enter a pandal. On Panchami, the day before Shashti, I would count my clothes or the cash that I got from one relative or the other. In those days, even `50-60 felt like a thousand bucks.
Eating out is a great attraction for me. I love vegetable chops and Kachoris. In non-veg, I like chicken egg rolls, biryani and Mughlai Paratha, which every Bong loves. I also used to participate in cultural events. Recently I judged a Dhaki competition, it was great fun.