Durga Puja – Kolkata 2016

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I have been in India for six days now and my trip did not go exactly as planned. You can read more about my Indian adventures on the Fairways website.

I was meant to be flying north to Bagdogra and heading further north in the Darjeeling area to Chalsa however due to a death of a local worker there was unrest in the village and we were told not to attend as it was too dangerous.

Instead I have spent the whole time in Kolkata and not only have I made a wonderful golf connection with Indrajit Bhalotia, I have sponsored the green fees of five junior golfers here in India.

One of the world’s biggest festivals is happening in Kolkata while I am here, Durga Puja  which celebrates the ultimate victory of good versus evil and yesterday I had the sweaty pleasure of being thrust in the middle of a heaving mass of humanity.

I don’t think I will ever do that again (I don’t particularly like wearing other people’s sweat as an accessory) but what an experience!

I wanted to go and see the Puja but am very glad I had a couple of guides – Anil and Subhash a couple of new Fairways juniors – as I would have been completely at a loss in the crowded streets of Kolkata.

We jumped in a taxi to head across the city and I was already coated in what I like to think of as Kolkata Coating – a light sheen of permanent perspiration.

We jumped out of the taxi and headed off on our pilgrimage to see seven Pujas. The first one we stopped at had a lot of people but the second (and one of the most famous Pujas –  Tridhara Akalbodhan)  had a heaving throng of people. A crowd like no other.  I have been in mosh pits and shoulder to shoulder with people but this was packed, no personal space and with the humidity and body heat of thousands, we were pouring with sweat.

Every single one of us. Any slight movement of air was very welcome.

We were shuffling forward, soaking our clothes for nearly half an hour as the crowd control officers blew their whistles, ushering the crowds through, frowning on folk who halted long enough for a photo.

Smart phones saluted the Pujas as photos were snapped and instantly shared.

The intricate detail and workmanship that goes into the construction of the Pujas is astounding. The lights twinkling in uncountable designs are phenomenal. Some take 12 months to build and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to make and in this country that is a large fortune.

The sponsorship lining the streets is overwhelming – maybe more so for me than the amount of people. Your eyes are assaulted with a plethora of signage in every direction.

I must commend the police and the police volunteers directing both vehicular and foot traffic to ensure the steady flow was continuous.

Anil and Subhash were so good, constantly ensuring I was ok. I weaved through traffic and sweated like the best of them which I think perhaps surprised them that nothing bothered me at all.

I am leaving the country tomorrow, mid festival and need to allow around 3 hours to actually get to the airport although it is only 27 kms away.

Indian traffic is bad enough without throwing a massive festival into the mix.

As my flight is at 9.10pm I will take a change of clothes to put on at the airport as I dislike the idea of sweltering for three hours and then wearing those clothes for another 30+ hours does not excite me.

I am looking forward to visiting with family and friends in Australia but the first thing I need to do is find a job to keep paying for the expenses of the NFP.

 

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