You have been away from Kolkata for some time now. And you have saved your earned leaves. Because, you know, it’s time The Goddess arrived and of course you have to be home! Bilu, Bunty and Bablu, your childhood friends working abroad, are coming down for the Pujas this year and boy, do you have plans!
You’re probably going to give the pandal hopping a miss. Because you are that kind of a true Bong and you cannot help but snigger at how people throng to those overcrowded pandals, like ants to lumps of jaggery.
Or, maybe, you’re too old for that shit.
You’ll be meeting, all of you, one of your houses at a time. You’ll discuss teacher crushes, torn report cards, empty classrooms and chemistry laboratories. You’ll discuss old friends, ex girlfriends and forgotten love letters written on filter paper. Bilu will probably imitate how you sung “You fill up my senses” and proposed your undying love to Tina, who lived next door. Helping you in your way would be the duty-free-procured bottles of whisky.
Like a true Bong, you are a Biryani fanatic and you will visit the grand old Biryani places during your stay in the city. You’ll probably join the serpentine queue outside Arsalan, or Aaliya, or Shiraz.
If, however, you are the adventurer Bong, you’d set out towards Nakhoda Masjid, Chitpur, where time has remained at a standstill, for decades. You’ll delight at the rows of stalls selling myriad fare, from spices to apparel, from footwear to fabric, as you make your way through busy people, warm people, people who have just concluded their namaaz and are stepping out of the mosque.
You’ll turn right and find that there’s an Aminia right there. The same famous Aminia that you’ve been to, countless times, near New Market. Only this one’s the first Aminia outlet. Ever.
You’ll go ahead and talk to the elderly man sitting at the cash counter and ask about the outlet. You’ll get to know, that it was established in 1929 and grew from an eatery that served fantastic Biryani to the grand old biryani joint. You’ll get to know that they branched out and the New Market branch became more popular, due to easier accessibility. You’ll realise that the menu there catered to the general family audience, like your once in a five year span Sooraj Barjatiya movie. That’s why they did away with beef from their menu.
You’ll ask with bated breath whether the Aminia at Nakhoda Masjid is the only outlet within the chain which still serves Beef. The elderly man will nod in the affirmative. You’ll heave a sigh of relief and order the kebab. And the lachha paratha. Some phirni too for dessert. But before all of that, you’ll order the Biryani.
And then, sitting there, on the iron bench and the glass top table of the Forgotten Aminia, you’ll experience homecoming.