I mean, yes, the city sucks, no doubt. It must be the dirtiest, most polluted city ever. Everybody who goes to Calcutta should see the marvel of Free School Street (just ahead of Kathleen) where Pigs and Humans co-exist peacefully on a wonderful garbage dump which would, one day, be used as a model for sustainable housing.
And, of course, the water logging. Other Indians hate the Brits, but the Calcuttans love them for building the first and last sewage system the city’s seen. The white man actually cared for us! But then again, I’m being a bit melodramatic as usual. The water logging’s not all bad. Most taxiwalas pray to Indra for it. Because, when it rains, the Ambassador is king and the cabbie will casually say, after you flag him down standing beside your firangi car which has conked of due to water in the engine: “Sir, today no meter, sir. But you give me 200 rupees for Theatre Road, sir. Arre yes, I know it costs 50 by meter, sir, but today paani jaam, no Sir?”.
Even when it’s not raining, though, the buses don’t give you too much joy either. They do, it must be admitted, look ugly and a more than a bit unsafe. And I swear I’ve been on quite a few buses whose floor boards have cracks big enough to see the street passing by below. But then you do appreciate them, at some level. I mean it’s not every day that you would have 300 people packed into a mini-bus meant for 50. It brings us Calcuttans closer—a tightly knit family some would say.
Of course, all this is small fry compared to Calcutta’s real problem—Bengalis. The city’s filled with them.
But even then, did Calcutta deserve this? I mean, the city’s not all bad, is it?
Where else would you get a Biryani with that lovely aloo included along with meat? The legend goes that when Wajid Ali Shah was exiled to the city by the Sewage-System Builders, the poor man had a tough time keeping up his old lifestyle. It’s not easy when you’re busy using Muta to marry girls for a few days and casting them off, is it? It’s hard on an exiled nawab’s finances. So the poor man cut back on his food by replacing some of the meat in his Biryanis with aloo. It’s true—some people would do anything for love.
And since were're on the subject of food, the kati kawab rolls which Nizam’s claimed it invented must be brought up. Succulent and tender pieces of roasted meat wrapped in a crispy, flaky yet not very oily paratha served to you by some chap who obviously has some sort of groin infection. I ask you, does a city that invented the kati roll, deserve this sort of treatment? Does it?
And what about Park Street? And Peter Cat, the chicken sizzlers and the prawn cocktails (Mrs. G., it was said, ordered her prawn cocktails from Sky Room. They used to go out on the evening Calcutta-Delhi flight. Sky Room’s shut down now, though. Why? Labour problems, of course. This is a write-up on Calcutta you fool!). And New Market during the Christmas holidays with marzipan from Nahoum’s. And those horrible tacky Santa Claus dolls, who, went the tale, cried because the city did not deserve what had been done to it.
Of course, all this is small fry compared to Calcutta’s real asset—Bengalis. The city’s filled with them.
So, I ask you, ladies, gentleman and Karan Johar, did Calcutta deserve this?
Kolkata Knight Riders:
Played: 14; lost: 10, won: 3, tie/NR: 1