Few days ago I planted a Jasmine flower plant in my balcony garden and come summer, it had pretty white blossoms all over it. That day when I came back from office I plucked a handful and put them in a bowl of water.

The fragrance of the sweet smelling flowers instantly transported me to a magical place, the place of my childhood memories; something no aroma oils, scented candles or the room fresheners could ever do.

In fact when I was a kid there were no air fresheners, apart from the one which came in a huge metal container and smelled strongly of medicine. Moreover there were no tablets, no mobiles, no cartoon channels and definitely no pizza. Yet it was a magical place, a place where we got to play on the sand pile in the nearby construction site, we had no manicured lawns you see. Summer afternoons were spent outside, at least the attempt was continuously made to convince mum that it was cool enough outside and the Sun was already done being mean. Pretty flowery frocks, loads of Nycil powder (mum’s doing) and I have no idea what shoes, was the whole attire.

Nowadays though, (a) I don’t step out in the sun and (b) if I do, I need a sunscreen with a high SPF and non-sticky base, glares, face tissues, face spritzer, a bandana, a water bottle and all this when I go out in the car, with the AC turned on of course. Maintenance sure has gone up.

And yeah, the reports said I have low Vitamin D, figures.

Cycling around the block was one of my favorite pastimes; somehow riding on my favorite ladybird cycle was pretty safe even with the traffic around. Another favorite time was when we went to the huge shop for kids which was akin to Disney land for me. Even today I and my husband always sneak into those big toy stores which have come up, whenever we go shopping . The thing to worry about though is, it was really hard to keep my husband from buying one of the extraordinary but humungously priced toys lying all around even when did not have a kid.

But back then, variety was a little less I would say, toys were mostly dolls / cars / action figures, but I remember each time I ended up buying a book. When I got a new book, rushing through homework so that I could lay my hands on the book and finish up as much as possible before I was forced into bed was the most exciting thing.

Crime was also rampant, the moment mom and dad went to sleep, out came this tiny lamp, which ran on battery, LED bulbs were a new thing then. And me and my tiny sisters went on this nightly crime spree, under the sheets, foraging through the books in search of enchanted worlds which can only be travelled to through books.

But one of the most exciting and much awaited childhood memory is that of Durga pujo. As there were no leave balances to be thought about, mom used to take us to Kolkata mostly , Dad accompanied too, if he could manage a leave, though he was not much needed during the pujas as long as we had a little bit of spending money on us.

Cousins and friends were enough to sail through the exciting, dhaak filled days. Funny thing was my cousin sister, “ FROM KOLKATA” , elder to me mind you, used to be sincerely afraid that we would get lost in the hustle bustle. She made us put on these tags on our bodice, which had name and addresses written in bold letters, for scenarios wherein if I get lost and lose my mind too etc etc. I am not joking, she made us pin it on our dress.

Dress Ahh!! For a Bong, Durga puja means new dress, pandal hopping, and having a blast with family and friends.

3 days of Puja meant a new dress everyday and as I got into my teenagery (made up word) phase, convincing my parents that of course I needed 2 dresses each day !

In today’s time of online shopping and instant gratifications, wearing a new dress never does compare to that thrill of waiting to wear the new dress on Durga puja, and planning different ( read weird!) hair styles in front of the mirror to go with the dress. Yes I was vain from time to time, thank you.

The Dhakis at the pandal, chat and phucka stalls, the cotton candy and feriwalas on the street and the Nabami family dinner at a nice restaurant with the whole family. Amidst all the lights and the dhunuchis smell, the grand idol of Goddess Durga with her kids on both sides, had me mesmerized and each year standing in front of the idol with a prayer in my heart, I was filled with hope and light.

The happiest thing is even today on a Durga Puja, I am able to revisit my childhood in so many ways, and with most of the luxuries of childhood gone I am thankful for these traditions, tied up strongly with the threads of nostalgia and thankful for my bowl of Jasmine blooms

#childhood #Summer #Summersmells #Durgapooja #Festivals #simplertimes