It's in the air.
I am sitting bang in the middle of Connaught Place, working on strategy for a Hindi newspaper and there is a strong aroma of chhole-bhature hanging around... but the feeling is unmistakable.
It's Pujo. And my Bengali gene has smelt it.
Of course, it helps that I live in Chittaranjan Park where Bijoli Grill, Ananda Publishers and full-throated Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu are ruling the roost.
But as I was walking through a non-descript locality in Kanpur last night, I followed a string of decorative bulbs to see my first Durga idol of this season.
A week back, as my car crossed the Ganga bridge just outside the city, I was greeted with the wondrous sight of a field full of kash-phool.
And the heart beats a little faster.
Inexplicably. Because, the childish joys of new clothes, annual issues of magazines, going out with friends, stuffing your face with fish fry are no longer matters of life and death. You can do without all of them - but you feel a little diminished without them.
And the small things conspire to make these four days a little out of the ordinary.
It is Saptami. And I am in office.
But, the Boss remains absent, so I can go home a little early.
I did not get to buy any of the annual numbers of the Bengali magazines.
But, Fabmall manages to deliver the latest Jeffrey Archer just before the courier companies close down for the weekend.
All my school and college mates are flung far across the globe.
But, all of them seem to pop up unerringly on Yahoo Messenger, Orkut and good ol' Hotmail.
I am hassled with the lack of Benfish stalls in Delhi municipal limits.
But, a Bijoli Grill stall materialises in the K Block pujo.
I no longer care about new clothes.
But, my mother and mother-in-law keep up the tradition of gifting horrendously expensive clothes.
Basically, the Goddess does not want to keep people unhappy during these four days. So, for these four days, I am going home.
(For a wonderfully evocative account by a honorary Bengali, here is Vir Sanghvi's take on Durga Pujo.)