People in Kolkata are always talking to each other, even if they are perfect strangers. After I got into the auto, the autowallah waved at a Punjabi woman on the street, and then turned back to me and said, "She is a very good woman. She is much respected here." When I said, 'Huh,' he just continued, 'She is friends with everyone in the area. That is what matters - your behaviour with people. Poisha to sabhai kamachhe (roughly translated, it'd mean, 'No big deal about earning money, everyone does it.')' I couldn't figure out why he delivered this monologue, but then, smiled at him and nodded. By now I know. It is a city forever in conversation. We love to talk here.
I had wanted to post something a couple of days ago, but varied news about Nandigram has been pouring in, and has been quite depressing. I love Suman Kabir's daily talk show on current affairs on Tara Bangla. As a poet-singer, Suman is original, refreshing, and stays with you. But that's just part of the story. He's almost a cult figure here. He changed his name from Suman to Suman Kabir, so that he'd be neither Hindu nor Muslim. What I like about his show is his complete ease with the camera, perhaps because he's just being himself. His smiles are spontaneous. When something worries him, it shows. He's been doing a series of shows on Nandigram and related events. In one episode, a doctor, who went as part of a team to Nandigram, said there were about 400-500 people missing from the villages. He had many other gruesome things to tell. At the end of the show, Suman asked his viewers to not write to him, or to anyone in West Bengal, because it would be in vain.