By the drumbeats you know. The incessant roll of the dhaks, their bearers hitting with all their puny might; the rhythmic, hypnotic beats that crash around us as we wake, wash and walk hurriedly over to the pandal.
By the scent of the dhoop you know. The powerful assault on the senses, yet pleasant. The smoke that gathers round and round, enveloping as we watch in wonder, with a dreamlike stupor moving into a world of fantasies.
By the kinship you know. Flocked together in little circles with steaming gossip and tea. Sweaty hands jostling, eager to grab flowers and bel patha before anyone else for the anjali in the morning. The elderly, walking down gingerly to watch the hour-long aarti in the evening. Games and contests, open to all, and won by none.
By the way they dress you know. The deepest cut blouses, the tallest shoes and the chunkiest jewellery.
By the fervour you know. Waves of people squealing excitedly, garbed in their garish best, feet aching with hours of walk in the relentless heat. Sweat glistening proudly on their forehead, a mark of all night pandal hopping.
The city throbs today. These few days of palpable excitement and fervour. These few heady days of Durga Puja.