This is not an excerpt of the novel, nor a gist of it. I just chose this name as they like to call it. This is not a travel guide either, just a plain interpretation of this great city, as they call it, through my eyes.
I happen to be here in this City of Joy, thanks to my profession. The capital city of West Bengal State of India, standing tall with architectures constantly reminding us of the tyranny of the colonial era.
What I found here in Bengal is literature. Now this is at bloom. With the likes of Tagore hailing from the city, it is an obvious certainty that people have an affinity towards books. But!!! When you get into a regional book house, you will find a lot of indigenous works, but do they find this many readers? It seems like there are more writers than readers. Which reminds me of one thing; People here love to give lectures, anytime anywhere, with passion, fervor and thrust on anything. I find they like to speak a lot, necessarily or unnecessarily.
The very first thing I noticed was, the enormous number of people everywhere, may even be hundreds in a small square of one meter. In the books it’s some 27000 per Sq Km. but I think they did some serious mistake in calculation.
Alright, the first place I visited, as any guy would, is the Park Street, which is supposed to be the happening place of the city. But was not so happening on the Sunday I went. The reason I was told is that the city takes the day off in the week. Which I think is the great influence the Colonial rule had imposed to take the Sabbath off. But then, there was this Chinese restaurant which served the dinner and cooled down the discontent of the day.
Meat-eaters? They love eating, Non veg. So if you are one. You are not lost in Bengal. Fish is a delicacy, all kinds of them.
Coming back to “The City of Joy”, the book. Yes, there is still hand pulled rickshaws. Pity you may feel for them. There is a dilemma, to sit on them and make their living, thus being inhuman or not sit on them and still be inhuman of not making someone make a living.
The state is ruled by the communist. I don’t quite get if the general public does know what Communism is. But the people worship it here, whether it be forced or their will. No comments further. But the City and the state are deteriorating. The paper says that Bengal has the highest FDI in India, but on the other hand, they drove away The Singur – Nano project.
I was having this discussion with a local here about the political situation in Bengal (This is not to be quoted anywhere else, please). Here’s what he has to say, “One of them don’t like Development/ Modernization, while on the other hand, the other (i.e. the opposition) don’t know what Development is.” I let this thought to sink in and kept it for future use. But then, when I look back the history of the state. I found this to be kind of true.
A good half a century back, the state was asked if they would want a centre run medical university. The government back then, said they are one self reliant people and do not need it. And thus, the AIIMS Delhi remained the sole apex medical university in India.
Now, who is to blame? The government who don’t seem to work, The people who elected the government, or Democracy, which is failing. Now this brings me to one more topic, “Indian Democracy, A hit or miss”, which I am studying upon. When I get some fresh ideas, I’ll post it.
Alright, enough of the polity talks.
Transportation: Being a metro city, it has good underground metro lines taking you from Dum Dum to tollyganj, supposed to be opposite parts of the city. I have to check this out in the map. Apart from this, they have cabs, which are quite cheap comparing with the cabs of other metropolitan cities esp. Bangalore. Ok, about cabs, they will charge double the meter cost + Rs. 2. Don’t worry it’s the Law of the municipality. There are Busses, the chassis of which are the only part that is metal, other parts are wood. You got to see it to believe me.
I take this in a new paragraph. The TRAMS. Nowhere in India will you see this. Its an asset you know. If you have lots of time, then you definitely have to get into one. Trust me you will love it.
If you happen to go out of Kolkata, then, there are these excellent local trains, which take you as far as Kharagpur, Haldia, Amta etc. but from Howrah of course.
Come October, they will celebrate Durga Puja, which I am told is an expensive affair.
Long writings do make people bore, this I am told. But I don’t want you to get to another page deliberating on the same topic. But, Democracy has made anyone free to opt out of not reading anytime he/she likes.
The Traffic: Any traffic rule? I doubt it. There happen to be more cars than people. Now try to fathom with the density I gave you earlier. Uhha?? The people riding happen to be un-understandable devils squeezing every little breathable space they get.
Eateries: You will find anything edible here in Kolkata. I’ll tell you what I want. KFC in Park street and Citimarket, one more in Salt lake; Dominos, here and there; McD, Park street (I don’t know where the others are); Pizza Hut, Citimarket; CCD- Café Coffee Day, Park Street and others I don’t know.
Now you see, I remember only Park Street and adjoining areas, because that’s the only place I frequently visit. Updates on eateries later.
Well that’s it for now. A month is not sufficient to know everything. And perhaps I am not on a holiday trip to know the place in 3-4 days of tour. I have months and years with me. I’ll definitely keep you updated.
Till then Take care.
Of course, you can read my other posts, if at all it sees the light of internet.