We were at Calcutta during the week of 29th April till 3rd May.
The actual reason was to get down and complete the “registration of sale deed” formalities for the flat. As it happened, we ended up spending a day through the bandh on the 27th and, also doing interesting things like surprising dipankar-da by turning up at Madhyamgram unannounced – and ensuring that Manu-di cooked the most lip-smacking mutton I have had in a long long time. In between, there was the obligatory visit to the bookstores, especially the Ananda Publishers one at Gariahat (where I learnt that Ananda has been clever enough not to have a re-run/re-print of Moti Nundy’s “Jiban Ananta”). I had interesting side conversations with a myriad group of folks, including a few die-hard Leftists who have by now figured out that this election isn’t going to get the Left Front to power. Having spent my entire childhood, boyhood, youth and a good part of my adult life watching the Left clique in power (and, the games they play), I don’t hold a special opinion about the eventuality. Other than the fact that things have withered to such a state that it would take enormous self-belief and, chutzpah to change them for the better. And, I don’t think that the political groups in WB have that.
We saw Stephen Court and, saw the mangled,burnt and tangled air-conditioners. We did not visit Music World, but we did go to the Oxford Bookstore and, of course we did go to Mocambo. Among other things, I had rolls from Haji Saheb (Runa had them twice really – glutton ;)) And, although there were plans to take in Wanted (Bengali), Amanush (Bengali) or, The Japanese Wife, nothing materialized. Instead, we did a round of South City Mall.
If all the above generates an impression that we acted like tourists, it would be right. Speaking for myself, I’ve been out of the city for 6 years now and, visit it only for a maximum of 10 days. Clucking disapproving tongues or, making a vigorous display of disapproval at the state of things is an easier way out. Frankly, I don’t like the way things work. Take for example the fact that in spite of paying up promptly, a retailer made me wait for 90 minutes for a netbook. I was the first customer at the beginning of a weekend and his feeble excuse was that “the hardware is in the godown”. While I can take that in, what I find amusing is that his staff hogged all the available chairs which meant that I had no option other than squatting on the floor of the showroom – fine example of customer service.
Or closer home, the electrician who was to come down and fix up the ceiling fans during the bandh day said that “folks had released the air from his cycle tyres and stopped him from coming” – and this is on the same road that I came using a rickshaw – nary a bandh volunteer/activist in sight. There is a lack of seriousness about things that worries me – an attitude that is perhaps summed up in the phrase “chalta hai” that I cannot tolerate.
In the meanwhile, we also did the Lakes (after ages for me) and, met Indranil and Stephanie there. Good stuff. With Sayamindu and Susmit going away to Cambridge and Denver for further studies, the number of pals I’ve at Kolkata is coming down. So sooner rather than later it would be just a cursory trip to check up the status of the flat. When the number of folks who love you and like you start going down, you start feeling your age. And, meeting BDC at the Maidan (what an epic walk that was) and, spending time at Waldorf (which is nothing like what it was) reminded me that the good guys are losing or, giving up. What a world !
ps: We saw It’s an Wonderful Afterlife today. Frankly, it is such a typecast cliche-filled movie that I see no reason to write about it. It is a time-pass, but it is a movie you have seen earlier with characters that have appeared in various serials.