There are many ‘eye-catching’ cities in India, posh, vibrant, full of sky-scrapers, luxury buses and what not. Go to Mumbai or Bangalore and you will realise that ‘mordernisation’ is the talk of the day. Malls coming up all around the city; AC buses running up and down the road and what not.Talk to anyone of the ‘iconic’ city of the country and they would name Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and maybe Hyderabad. There is one city however which does not look so ‘mordernised’ at first sight. But it is that city (or the state) which has left an imprint on my heart which can probably never fade away – Kolkata (or Bengal).
A striking difference between Kolkata and other metropolitan cities of India is that Kolkata is Bengali by soul. As Vir Singhvi (a reputed journalist) says, “Tell any person in Mumbai that the city is essentially Marathi, or any Delhite that his city is Pujabi, he would most probably raise an objection. However it is not so with a person in Kolkata; he believes that the city is Bengali and he even feels proud of it.” There is a very strong sense of cultural awakening in the region. Bongs are in general very very proud of themselves and their culture.
The city will definitely not please any outsider at the first sight. The first thing that scares a first time visitor is the GIGANTIC population. Probably the number is too large for anyone to imagine. Other problems include traffic jams (which occur very frequently) rains (let it shower for 1 to 2 hours and large parts of the city are flooded) and humidity (95 to 98 percent at summers with temperatures around 40 degrees Celsius).
But the lovely part of the city is its people. Here you you can meet rickshaw (a non-motorised public vehicle), who finds it difficult to make his ends meet, being extremely knowledgeable about the highest quality of poetry in Bengali. Here people who never met earlier can be found discussing regional politics. This is a place where you can have a decent lunch at prices as low as Rs.5 (Rs. 50 = $1). This is a place where people are evaluated not on the size of the wallet but on the size of their heart.
Live as a common man and enjoy the beauty of the city. Sacrifice the feeling of being special and see how the city captures your imagination.
There is certainly something in this land which gives rise to greats – people who defined their own feild. Take Rabindranath Tagore as and example. A poet who created timeless beauties. What more, he also composed music for each of these poems to convert it into songs which are now known as the famous Rabindra Sangeet. Sons of the same land include Vivekananda (the man who shook the world with his words in Chicago), J. C. Bose (who showed that plants have life and discovered radio), S. N. Bose (co discoverer of Bose-Einstein Condensate) and Subhash Chandra Bose.
One must remember that it is the people who make a city. A city is not a dead piece of land – emotionless and mechanical, but is vibrant entity – personal and affectionate. In today’s world where relations and emotions dry out, this is a city which still preserves its personal identity. This is the city of joy; the epitome of culture: Kolkata…
N. B: If you are wondering why in this post there is no mention of the Durga Puja or the Local Trains of the city, I would like to say that these aspects of the city are too elaborate to discuss here – they require a post for themselves. So keep your fingers crossed…