18 September 2005

Being in Bengal

Spare me the acid, uber. I offer my apologies.
Believe me, I have missed blogging so much. It's as if I had lost my mobile phone. Somehow, my earlier job at an MNC seemed to give me more time than my present newspaper job. And I'd always thought it would be the other way round.
I completed three months in Calcutta a couple of days ago. The sights, sounds (too many, uf) and smells of the city are growing familiar. I no longer get up in the morning and expect to not sweat. I can now sit shoulder to shoulder, knee to knee, whatever to whatever, in the middle of two people in a little auto and hum along with the latest Bollywood hit playing, no, drilling into my brain, on FM radio.
But Calcutta, unlike most people outside think, has got more to it than sweat and the closeness of humanity. Yes, the heat can scare the shit out of you if you happen to drop in anytime between March to June. It made me really homesick the first few weeks. But, as humans do, I got used to it.
There are some things which you can do only in this city in India: like take a tram ride. I took my first tram from Bidhan Sarani to College Street, something that Linc used to do during his three years at college. I think trams are the best source of outdoor advertising, because they move so slowly, and are so huge that no one could possibly miss the ad. When I went back home after visiting Calcutta for the first time about three years ago, one of the images I carried back with me were the blue trams (with Bend it like Beckham promo) and the black trams (I thnk it was Men in Black).
Speaking of images, the chief minister wants to ban hand-pulled rickshaws. But what alternatives do the rickshaw pullers have? As someone said, people dont take to rickshaw-pulling out of pleasure. I had refused to get on one during my first visit here. Linc told me, "Alright, as you wish. But you wont be helping the guy (the rickshaw-puller) a bit." Lesson learnt.
Yeah, then there are the slick malls mushrooming like crazy. That's supposed to be a sign of Calcutta catching up with the other metros, I guess. Sigh. You just cant escape 'development' and 'modernisation,' you see.
But Sundays, like today, are an absolute delight. There is almost no traffic on the roads, at least till evening. The Bengali babu doesn't like to miss his siesta afer a bhaat-maangsho curry lunch. Its the best time to get out and explore the quiet by-lanes. A little rain, like the one today, makes it just right.
I know I have hardly scraped the surface of this city. There are still so many things to see, places to go to, people to meet, mishtis to eat, dreams to fulfill, and things to learn here. Here's to a long love affair!!


Swaroop C H said...

Good to hear that Calcutta is getting adjusted to you ;-)

- Swaroop

Misch said...

woman! finally good to see something from ya... neat entry... almost felt like I was in calcutta too n could almost see ya humming while stuck btw 2 people :-D... wot else new? have moved my blog yet again... will send u the link.

Vijayalaxmi said...

Swaroop: Yeah, it better.

Mish: Me too very happy about my return to the blogosphere. Why do you keep moving?

Sham said...

Welcome back. Have you had the taste of Calcutta's intellects yet?

Lincoln said...

Sihi or should I say Misti, your writing is eye-candy. (PS for the others - Sihi in Kannada means Misti in Bangla)- Lincoln

Praveen Bhat said...

Thats a good entry, as usual. For a minute, I felt I've lived there. In fact, that happens to me when I read Ramakrishna too. I must've lived there :)

I worked out of Calcutta for a month and didn't really go around to see things. I did like some things there, but now I'm planning a visit for something else I didn't know, care or take interest in: Dakshineshwar. I'll make a trip soon!

Ubermensch said...

goodie good, finally it has rained, great to hear from you abt bengal, now the storm!

Vijayalaxmi said...

Sham: Let's talk about more pleasant things, shall we?

Linc: (Feeling slightly embarassed) Thank you

Praveen: When are you coming?

Uber: It's cyclone time here.

Praveen Bhat said...

Hmmm, the stormy rains! Lets see, was planning around Dasara... but I think it'll be too crowded too then. I'll let ya know.

Gags said...

So nice to know Viju that someone from hip and happening city Bangalore is actually liking and singing paens about Kolkata...quite a surprise. I am sure the city will grow on you. It has its definite charm u see.

Vijayalaxmi said...

Hasnt grown on me yet. But will wait.