I am presently on the verge of packing up on a short week long break in a globally dispersed family reunion in the City of Joy. I am back to the city of my ethnic origins after a gap of three years. The left has been replaced this may by a popular counter revolution led by Mamata Di. A cult of the Messiah Mamata has risen, the hammer and sickle has been replaced with the three flowers of the trinamool and the hand of the congress. Politics and Culture is embedded in the DNA of the city. Over the past few days since i arrived, a build up of local rallies led up to the crescendo to the Martyr’s Day- a commemoration of the political victims of the opposition movement since 1993. On a rain soaked day, tens of thousands of people, were huddled up as cattle from the interiors of bengal to to the Brigade Parade ground where the who’s who of the current dispensation and the Kolkata entertainment industry turned up in a show of strength as in a victory day rally. It reminded me of the Left rally’s of the yesteryear’s. The Culture and the Ethos is still eerily the same ; only the stripes have changed.
The city is abuzz with a sense of hope, a hope of change for the better. Infrastructure projects have turned parts of the city as construction sites, making traffic intolerable to bear. Urban Planning is a concept alien to the Public Works Department here, it seems. I will admit that roads have improved considerably in the southern part of the city, the northern parts still have the old world charm although seems that it has just risen from an artillery strike. Kolkata (the traditional name) seems to be a city of rural and urban sections. South Kolkata and Salt Lake are very metro, can beat a Bandra anyday. Rajarhat and New Town are still very rural with a patchwork of concrete jungle. Roads still look more the Moon’s surface than a transport friendly surface.
Kolkata still has a soul; culturally rich. Food is certainly a USP. The best grub i have had in ages. The loud nature of the Calcuttan adds life on the street and the laid back nature adds to its charm, although very bugging at times. The organized chaos and the hustle & bustle weave a tapestry of character of its dilapidated historic city.
I have definitely sensed a ignition towards growth towards the better; lets us see what shape does this energy take Kolkata towards.