Friday, December 18, 2015

Train to Kolkata

I had a train from Chennai to Kolkata at 9 am. My alarm went off at 6 30 am and I shut it off to get a few more minutes of sleep. How stupid of me. Fortunately, I woke up at 7 30 am, and ran to the station to catch my train, to Kolkata. Bye bye South India. Hello Kolkata.

On the train, I share my coach cabin with a computer engineer. He was from Kolkata, but he worked in Chennai. He was visiting his family, back in Kolkatafor a week. We spoke about Kolkata, the city he had grown up in. I read him a passage from my diary that I had noted recently. It was a Guardian Article by Amit Chaudhari about a city, he adored and grew up in. Here are a few sections of the article that I read out to him,

'India changed rapidly, often disturbingly, after 1991; Calcutta remained resistant to globalization and the new world order, cultivating their irrelevance to itself and its own to theirs.'

I went on,

'outside of India it was hardly known except, occasionally, through the luminous cinema of Satyajit Ray and through translations of Tagore, that teetered between the parodic and perplexing.'
But this part of the article, stood out to me and stayed with me,

'For me Calcutta's ordinariness was its most compelling feature.'

Calcutta, was the great city of the East. I grew up, hearing stories of the rich cultural atmosphere that inhabited the city. The city gave India, individuals like Tagore, Satyajit Ray, Amartya Sen and Jagdish Chandra Bose among others. I was quite taken aback by Chaudhari's piece about the city. I didn't know what to expect. So I asked my fellow passenger, for his thoughts, on the conflict I faced.He smiled and said something that sounded like this, 'Kalakataya sbagata jana'i' I wondered what he meant…


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