Being a Bengali I find it very difficult to explain my inadequacy of knowing Kolkata as a city. Having studied in Delhi and now working in Mumbai, I can at least give a passing commentary of what to do and where to go in these two metros. Kolkata on the other hand I am getting to know only in Instalments. So this week when I visited my friend’s wedding, I updated myself some more about Kolkata.
At first glance it looks like Kolkata is stuck in a time warp. Not so much in the development or the infrastructure point of view but more from the behaviour of the people. And for someone like me who has stayed in the other metros, it can be quite unsettling. The last time I went for a movie in one of the multiplex, I was surprised that the movie hall during the interval got transformed into a second class railway coach with hawkers peddling their food items with full glee. I was thoroughly amused. I did not have to be from a different country to crash land into the unique culture of Kolkata. Kolkata is different from the other metros and I shed my sophisticated corporate propriety and watched with amusement at the food fest.
Today I visited College Street for the first time. And walking around the hallowed institutions which have produced so many men and women of arts and science, I could not stop comparing the two campuses – Kolkata and Delhi University. The two campuses are more different that similar. College Street is crowded, Delhi University is expansive. Yet walking through the lanes and by lanes of College Street area, with rows and rows of books store, I kept on wondering how long will Kolkata be able to hold on to history. I was both happy and anxious. Happy-that the city has retained its old cultural identity and quirkiness. Anxious, if it can withstand the ruthless onslaught of time or get transformed into a relic which people will visit only to soak in history and heritage.