Thursday, February 09, 2006

Reflections of Calcutta: A City of...

I am leaving my post "Tribute to IITB Faculty" in between. Somehow when I read comments of Vivek of IFS fame on his experience in Kolkata, I am feeling compelled to write this post. So my tribute to IITB Chem Faculty in my next post.

Calcutta is a city with probably the largest number of modes of public transport. There are hand pulled ricshaws, cycle ricshaws, autos, taxis, bus, tram and metro. But though I have never tried metro, the buses are in very bad condition. It is more comfortable to stand in a bus in Calcutta that to sit in it. And the roads!!! The tram part is under trams dept and other part is under the Municipal Corp. So there is a kinda discontinuity in every road. Because of this traffic is extremely slow in Calcutta.

The lack of mall culture in calcutta is commented upon in vivek's thread. I mean the best malls in Calcutta can be found in every possible road in bombay/delhi. And the dcity looks straight out of Parinita or Devdaas. It seems no progress is made here since last 30 yrs.

The thought that every girl in Calcutta looks like Rani Mukherji is preponderous to say the least. I m not a fan of Rani but still yaar. How i miss delhi. Girls seem very conservative here. But anyways I m not expert on this topic so I leave it here.

The most disturbing thing in Calcutta is the attitude of its ppl. Somehow ppl have a very laidback attitude here. You fix Rs 200 for a taxi and when it takes u to ur destination, taxiwallah begin to demand 20 bucks extra. Shops are more close than open. When u ask smething to a shopkeeper he waits 2 whole minutes and then only gets up to give what u want. There are strikes every fortnight. PPL come to streets when sourav ganguly is dropped from team. I don't know how ppl don't have any other work here. The professionalism of mumbai, and the shrewdness of delhi, both are missing here. It is replaced by lethargy of common ppl. Hail communism.

~Comments are welcome.

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16 Comments:

Blogger Jeet said...

flamebait, -1

6:46 PM  
Blogger MellowDrama said...

You forget the all important siesta time which btw bangalore shopkeepers also follow. Am in a small twm and I knw exactly how you feel ;) Tho btw Vizag is a lot more happening, been to Cal and found it an awful drag mostly because Bengali gets to me - was in an Aurobindo school at one point in my life

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Hiren Shah said...

Youd don't seem to like punjabi women it seems. How could not elaborate on the girls in Delhi.

I am a Delhi=ite. Thanks for the compliement though I don't know what "Shrewdness" means. You are bang on target where Bombay is concerned.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Vaibhav said...

Hiran, I do like punjabi women a lot.
But i like girls from hills(like Himachal pradesh and J&K) more. Pr....

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Saha said...

the service may be poor, but the prices are tool. you just said you had to pay 20 bucks extra for a taxi. In Delhi you would probably dream of paying 20 bucks extra. That's what the rickshawallas charge there. In your commentary on Kolkata, you have talked about the lack of malls in Kolkata. Well let me take this opportunity to crib about the lack of culture in Delhi. Tell me Vaibhav, what would you rather have culture or a mall?

7:47 AM  
Blogger Vaibhav said...

@saha
Thanks for visiting my blog and writing the comment.
I am not comparing prices in cal and delhi. I am just commenting on the attitude of taxiwallahs here. They agree to take u on certain price. When you reach the destination they demand something extra. And when you refuse to pay they either beg you or try to intimidate you. In Delhi, the taxiwallahs may charge you more initially, then it is your choice whether to go in that taxi or not. But they never ask you for more when you reach the destination.

I don't know how you comment on lack of culture in Delhi. There is some historical place on every
possible road. And coming to think about ppl it is not monotonous like Cal but Delhi is a cosmopolitan with a mixture of cultures. Tell me which festival other than Durga Pooja is celebrated in Calcutta. But in Delhi I have memories of Holi, Diwali, Christmas, Durga Pooja, ganesh Chaturthi, New Yr etc. And even if it comes to choosing between a rotting city which just boasts of its culture and a emerging and happening city which maybe new, I say I would prefer the latter.

Obviously we cann't bring Bombay in the discussion. That is in different league altogether and cann't be compared to any other city in India.

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Saha said...

But they never ask you for more when you reach the destination.

Which part of Delhi were you living in, buddy? I go to the international airport, the taxi gets a flat tyre midway, we finally reach the airport in the nick of time. Ans guess what, the friendly neighbourhood taxi-wallah asks us for another Rs 50. This is when the taxi is from the local taxi stand with fixed rates.
Have you ever taken a prepaid from New Delhi Railway Station. I hardly remember a time when we haven't had to pay extra. Every, and I mean EVERY, taxi and auto meter is rigged. You don't even care to argue that the auto-wallah follow the meter, and pre-negotiate a fare. In Calcutta, have you ever gotten the idea that the meters are rigged? Suggest it to a taxi-wallah, and he will feel insulted.

Dead buildings don't make culture. Delhi does not have people from different cultures, just different regions of the country. The only culture followed in Delhi is money. Look at all the religions you have named, Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi, all worshipped for money. And in case of more festivals, in typical North Indian myopia, you have decided to see only the one festival you knew of previously- Durga Puja. Tell me how many times earlier have you celebrated Saraswati Puja. Saraswati is the Goddess of learning. I'll tell you why you have never celebrated it before. Because education is a secondary priority for NOrth India, blinded as they are by money. We have Vishwakarma Puja. Vishwakarma is the God of all things mechanical and ENGINEERS. Can you see the difference in priorities here? We also have Kali Puja, the same night that you have Diwali. And dude we definitely celebrate New Year and Christmas.

You just have to step out of the campus to realise it. On campus, you are in an island, not Kolkata,not West Bengal. Like all North Indians, you are like the frog in a well, refusing to see beyond what is your own. Do you know Bengalis are some of the most avid travellers. They like to explore, see the world, in keeping with our culture of learning.

Speaking of culture, do you think, the Qutub Minar is culture? No, it ain't. Classical dance and music recitals are. How many times have you gone and seen the Purana Qila, or the Red Fort? Let me assure you every Kolkata resident has seen the Victoria Memorial at least once. That's pride. That's culture. In Delhi our monuments are good for only raping young medical students.

And I haven't even talked about literature. What would you consider a parameter here - the number of noted authors, nobel prize winners. Let me take a simper index. The reading habits. Every bengali child has grown up on stories by Satyajit Ray, who covered the whole gamut from mystery to horror to science fiction. Every bengali home boasts of the collected works of Tagore. The world is discovering Sarat Chandra now. Both our national anthem and Vande Mataram were composed by bengalis. Tell me Vaibhav, how many Hindi authors have you read? You see Vaibhav, culture is not defined by how many authors your language has, but how willing a community is to read.

Once someone from Spic Macay came to my school and told is that in Bengal, every mother forces her child to at least one or two classical music concerts. All my cousins in Kolkata have gone to either art school or music school or dance school. At ALL Durga Pujas, every night there's a cultural show with classical dance/music or drama. While a typical IIM alum would have booze, my father's engg college reunions have a cultural show. I have myself acted in two plays based on Sukumar Ray's short stories.

It is not enough to have a shovana narayan or a mallika sarabhai who can dance in your culture, what counts is whether it pervades your culture.

Waiting for your reply.

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