Why is that when we visit a place after a gap we plot the change I mean I always do that. Change is then only constant phenomenon and when we are there we don’t register it but if we are away we notice it. Like OMG this apartment wasn’t here last time or look a new restaurant opened up over there or excuse me dada where is the auto stand that used be here or what happened to Chaitali di’s Beauty Parlor over there.
Actually all this talk is because during the initial days of the trip to Kolkata we had gone somewhere and while returning we got down at Esplanade and wanted to take a bus for my home so I was walking towards the bus stand for my place’s bus. My mom called from behind and told “Where are you going? Ask someone from where we will get the bus I think everything has changed Are you sure they still go from where they used to.”
Yes number of things have changed. We were seeing new swanky, state of the art low-floor, wide bodied buses, new flyovers, new roads, new stores/malls/apartments, the traffic jams have grown many folds, roads are crammed with new green colored LPG Auto Rickshaws(which are ‘green’ as well environmentally speaking), nearly non existent night life has improved a great deal I mean much better than Bangalore(I had thought I’ll not drag Bangalore into this but couldn’t resist I apologize Bangaloreans), you get see more profound PDA(Public Display of Affection, yes kissing etc) near Jadavpur University campus.
But we still have the Yellow Ambassador taxis, there are still queues in B. B. D. Bag in the evening for the office babu to return to their homes in minibuses, CSTC bus route No.5 from Howrah to Garia still exists though now there are many more buses plying, still you get moya, notun gurer(Jaggery) Sandesh/Rosogolla in December, still you wake up to the ‘Sarega regama gamapa’ of the little girl next door doing her daily riyaz with Ganer didimoni(Music teacher), still my cousin is over-stressed about her son’s oncoming Madhyamik(Tenth board exams), still there’s utter chaos, mayhem and disregard for elderly women(my mom had nearly got trampled, had we not pulled her out in time) in Kalighat temple on Saturdays, still its a feast to go shopping at Gariahat (bargains galore), the beauty of bong ladies has not gone away at all.
Strangely ofcourse people were addressing me in Hindi or English and looked surprised to hear impeccable Bengali from me. I am tall(you know that), dark, handsome(ahem I think so) and was sporting a mustache but that does not make me a South Indian I am and will be a Bengali. So what I was little apprehensive to take the seat behind the driver of minibus which used to be most coveted seat earlier.
To cut the long story short four years is too short a time for a city to change its soul. Whatever is happening is cosmetic which is happening to the entire country that’s why we call ourselves the emerging nation. Lastly I would say in Bengali
Tumi bolo sohorta onek bodle geche,
Tui kintu parbi na eke chinte.
Ami boli dhur Kolkata to Kolkatei ache,
khali amay chinte ektu deri korche.
(tr: You say the city has changed a lot
I won’t be able recognize it
I say come on Kolkata is still in Kolkata
just taking a little time to recognize me)
PS: I have deliberately left out Howrah Bridge, Victoria Memorial, Rabindra Sadan or Kolkata’s Trams because my identification of this city is beyond these symbolic landmarks.