Stay safe and have fun at home is the festive mantra
Exploring new-found culinary skills, jamming with friends at home, picking up half-read books and binge-watching web series — here’s how school and college students plan to keep themselves busy this festive season.
Durga Puja is one big carnival and revelry is at its peak in Kolkata at this time of the year. But the pandemic has compelled us to find new ways to have fun. Pandal-hopping is a strict no-no. I would restrict myself to dropping in at at the para pandal when it is not so crowded. I plan to catch up on my reading list — Gurcharan Das’s The Difficulty of Being Good, T.M. Krishna’s Sebastian and Sons and Jane Borges’ Bombay Balchao. We’re planning to spend Ashtami at a bonedi pujo of our relatives. I’ll also try to brush up on my rudimentary cooking skills or learn a smattering of Tamil.
Soham Basu, second year, MBBS, IPGMER & SSKM Hospital
“Every dark cloud has a silver lining”. I believe it is our duty to enjoy Pujo differently, ensuring safety while taking care not to dampen the festive spirit. Being a Bengali at heart, it is quite impossible to avoid Pujo and virtual pandal- hopping is a big relief. I’m going to use this vacation to work on my fitness regime. Also, I hope hone my cooking skills and try out new dishes. A few movies and web series have been on my watch-list for long and I want to catch up on them. I will also connect with friends and family virtually.
Soumi Ghosh, first year, Food Science and Nutrition Management (honours), JD Birla Institute
I have been looking forward to Puja to break the monotony of online classes. I will of course stay far away from pandals and avoid crowds. On Panchami, I went for a Japanese lunch with 5 friends, all masked up and armed with sanitisers to ensure safety. Sashthi and Saptami will be spent playing Monopoly with my cousins, watching Rick and Morty and indulging in dinner-table adda sessions with the family. Ashtami will be a good day to reread A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf while waiting for the bhog to arrive from the parar pujo.
On Navami, I will watch Pujo Parikrama with my pet dog. By Dashami, I will be a pro at tackling chopsticks after a week of endless Chinese takeaways.
Monjita Sarkar, Class XI, The BSS School
The five days of Puja are the most special in the entire year and I speak not only for myself but for all the people of my city. Durga Puja paints the city in many festive colours. But this Puja will be different and I will refrain from pandal-hopping. As a learner of music, I plan to dedicate more hours to my riyaaz. Having a circle of musical friends makes adda, feasting and jamming together a ritual during Pujo. Thanks to social media, we musicians can perform from the comfort of our homes and share our joy with listeners virtually, but safely.
Shubhayan Dey, second year, Economics (honours), Presidency University
My ideal Pujo would involve calling my friends over or going to their homes. We've already made plans. Pujo comes after exams and that’s a big moment of freedom. I plan to stay up all night, watching movies and reading unfinished books. Going out will be restricted to my own community puja or maybe the next two blocks. We also plan to have Zoom meetings, playing games and hanging out virtually. My family and I have plans for a small vacation but it's not firmed up yet.
Soham Misra, Class IX, La Martinere for Boys
As a responsible citizen, I will give pandal-hopping and dining out a miss this Puja. I would want to redecorate my room and get some new equipment instead of buying new dresses. I plan to cook pulao and mutton for my family and I am very sure they will love it. Homemade phuchka and jhalmuri are on the menu too. My friends will be coming over. We have decided to dress up, order food, watch the latest shows and jam together. Virtual pandal-hopping on television will be fun.
Bristi Saha, Class XII, Sushila Birla Girls’ School