“Bengalis love to celebrate their language, their culture, their politics, their fierce attachment to a city that has been famously dying for more than a century. They resent with equal ferocity the reflex stereotyping that labels any civic dysfunction anywhere in the world ‘another Calcutta”
-Bharati Mukherjee, author.
On a sweat mongering, part frenzied and part hung-over late afternoon, my friend made me read a letter that went part viral on the internet a couple of weeks back. This letter was addressed to my city- my poked at, my made-fun-of, my overly applauded, my unnecessarily embellished, my most of often than not misconstrued city.
This letter rambled on about my city being a ‘lazy boy’s arm chair’, my city being a dream drowning pit, my city being an ambition thwarting dysfunctional mechanism, my city being an obstacle towards spreading out one’s wings and aiming for the sky.
This letter devastatingly hit home with a lot of phrases, which even though you’d try to turn a blind eye towards, you embarrassingly can’t. But what it also did was, set a fire through my body, each word singeing through my layers of epidermis, travelling through my bustling veins and making their way in to my frail little easily shaken heart.
That night I sat up late, not unlike most nights, and all I could think about was that piece of rambling that had invaded my thoughts, that had merrily walked in with a mattress in hand and squatted at the pavement without giving two hoots about the occupant in question.
If you engage in conversation with a lot of corporate enthusiasts, people with ambition in their souls, people who want to go that extra mile, about my city, you will hear them say “ Kolkatay kissu hoy na.” I can’t help but agree. Kolkatay shotti kichu hoy na.
And hobei ba ki kore? If we’re too busy serving ourselves, who’ll serve the city?
Politicians are abused day in and day out, officials are trashed for their lack of professionalism, the city is trashed because of its lack of progress and modernism. And the people who are doing this trashing are either busy packing their bags to be whisked away by a better working, smoother operating, more efficient metropolis or are too trapped in the monotonous wiring of their own devise which they don’t even try to set themselves free of.
In the midst of these people, my city suffers. It slowly rots from the inside, its roots running out of necessary nourishment to keep thriving, its heritage stuck in shambles yet decked up in strange hues of blue and white that makes the city appear to be plague infested in the most glamorous of manners. Paradoxes of life?
But my city is so much more. My city is not defined by these people, my city will not be defiled by these thoughts.
My city is meticulously holding on to the bus poles for your life as the early morning breeze assures you like a pampering thamma that you’ll be perfectly fine.
My city is late evening alleys where the harmonium melody from one window syncs in obliviously with the ghungur laden beats heard from another door.
My city is tirelessly searching for corners and cafes to shyly and slyly hold the hands of your significant other, a little scared a little heroic.
My city is aimlessly romanticising the70s over cups and cups of cha (liquar na dudh?) with your equally jobless friends, simultaneously devising revolutionary ideologies fit to bring down regimes with nothing but your words.
My city is fighting for your rights, sometimes a little to passionately for your own good, but fighting on nonetheless despite all the degrading brandings that grace your stance.
My city is being scolded by your mother for catching a cold but smothered with affections, both at the same go without missing a beat.
My city is not for the ones who want to fly alone.
My city is for those impractical idiots who want to set sail together against the tide of dreadful extinction, art in one hand, food in the other and a whole lot of soul for farming the seeds of a culture which instead of just being made up of legends, is a legend on its own.
My city is a tram ride, not meant to hurriedly reach one’s destination, but for the chaotic, mind boggling journey, the ridiculously passionate passengers and the utterly soul churning, impeccable view!
[On the 7th and 8th of May, a few impractical idiots are organising an inherently Calcuttan event titled Tram Tales, because unlike the many who’ve flown away to find a “better home”, they’ve decided to restore the essence of the only home we know. The main objective behind it is to save our trams, a part of our wonderful heritage that is slowly dying down. In a first of its kind of event, the CTC has given team Tram Tales the permission to use the sprawling Gariahat Tram depot where the trams inside will be turned into hubs of Music, Theatre, Films, Graffiti, Adda and so much more! To know more about the event check out the event page Tram Tales and be there without fail on the days mentioned above.]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Navamita Chandra is a student of Psychology from Loreto college, Kolkata. This passionate day-dreamer, vintage music maniac and devoted writer is also a reputed theatrician from The Dramatically Correct!