Friday, March 7, 2008

All my bags are packed...I am ready to go ....

“The city grows on you….despite all its shortcomings, restrictions and negativity, you tend to love it as the times goes by.” I was sure even at that time that the speaker meant whatever he was saying. A Marathi colleague was speaking at his farewell function .He was transferred after 5 years of stay at Kolkata .That day I thought that I will never give such ‘cliché-ed’ speech when I have to leave this city. I was very angry with Kolkata in those days. It was inhospitable, ugly and unfriendly for me and it fall far short of my expectations compared to Lucknow, Shimla , Jaipur or any other city I had lived till then.
It is almost three years now from that farewell function. This morning I got a two line order that changed the course of my day …may be for days. I have been transferred from Kolkata to New Delhi. It seems I have some strange connection with the Raj Capitals. First I came from the Summer capital-Shimla to this place and now I go back to THE Rajdhani of India . Delhi- the seat of power, the place which evokes mixed reactions in my heart and also the heartless- rule less- ruthless city which belongs to no-one .
It was not Delhi and its character that I was worried about. It was Kolkata – and more than that my life in Kolkata that I was thinking of. I have a mental list ready of things and people I will surely miss once I moved out of here . People who taught me the basics of work , people with whom I traveled every morning and evening and numerous other associations which I made here . Come to think of it, I guess I will even miss the vegetable seller with whom I regularly fight over vegetable prices. But the two places which I will cherish for rest of my life are –my first HOME and my office. It was here in Kolkata that for the first time me and hubby set up our first home . Everything from furniture, linen to kitchen appliances was bought keeping this house in mind….and I am not very sure how they will fit in any other house . It is definitely the loveliest, most wonderful, most beautiful house. And my office-well, it was not my first of course. But it was the best so far. I was a pleasure to work with this group of competent officers. As I am writing this post , so many images come to my mind. Meetings and arguments with boss, discussions with colleagues, my trips to Andamans, Bhutan, Farakka and many other places. My interactions with the subordinates, my attempts to ensure discipline, my efforts to understand the audit reports put up to me . My failures…my successes. I got so much to see and learn in this office. And however much I resist, there are images outside office also…of the city, I love to hate. A city that disappointed me with its bad busses, horrible roads and terrible services . A city of suffocating politics and unnecessary aggressiveness. But have I not already mend up my relation with Calcutta in my mind? For quite sometime now, I have accepted (though grudgingly) its slow speed, its argumentative attitude for everything and even the peculiar sense of timing.
I know I will miss my years at Kolkata and the people I met here. I try my best to look at the positive side of the transfer – it will be closer to Lucknow, transfer is a reality for all of us in civil services, the new office may be even better – but none of these consolations work…the lump in my throat and the bitter taste in my mouth, continues. Don’t be surprised if you find me saying good things about Calcutta when I leave – the city, indeed, grows on you!


Want to remain a Stranger said...

Well I was surprised to find that you hate the city so much that you needed to mention "the city, I love to hate" in your blog. But one who has gone through all your blogs knows that you love the city more than any other Kolkatan. You have fallen in love with the city, its monuments and people also (as mentioned in this blog). That's why you have written so much about this city in your blogs. Anyway I want to share with you whatever I know about Kolkata. I hate generalised views based on regionalism etc, and the following points may be due to the perception formed in my mind due to all I have heard (from my friends from Kolkata) and seen about the city and its people when I visited It, they may be wrong too.

* West Bengal is the state which can not be forgotten for the innumerable number of freedom fighters that it has given to India.

* Bengali people are so art loving that you will find every bengali child learning one art or the other in his childhood. I hope the person from Nawab’s city loves that too.

* If you talk of intellectuals and social reformers you will find a lot of them were from Bengal.

* Even though you will find Bengalis modern, they don't forget their roots. One of my friends visited Kolkata on Saraswati puja day. He found all the females in Sari. I love this concept.

* They are by birth ideologists and would like to die for it. But as all ideologies are used and moulded as per convenience so they too do so.

• Their love for people from their own state anywhere outside the state is marvellous. They will start talking in bengali and become so friendly as if they have known each other for ages, the same may not be true whey they are in their own state. Most of them switch off the TV when Saurabh is out, even if India may be in a position to win(its negative).
• Though the recent history has made Bihar the capital of Mob violence, a Kolkatan will brave anything to beat a pickpocket. I have heard that they throw pickpockets out of running train. I once had a dreadful experience of catching red handed a pickpocket taking out my mobile, but no Delhi wallah helped me and he fled. Had this been in Kolkata he would have been handed over to Police.

Now the negatives;

• They are stagnant and want things to remain as they are. This is human nature to resist change but this tendency is to dangerous extent in them. This is the reason you find pathetic condition of buses and buildings there. Even the oldest metro system of India has not been changed and upgraded for the fear that it may start to look new. The trams and their routes are pathetic.
• If their ego is hurt they will find excuses to retaliate. This is common among us too but I feel this is to a greater extent in them. They don’t like defeat in any debate.
• Unions, the moment this word comes you think of West Bengal. Its unions which has ruined the state’s industries over the years(and left the state with so much of electricity pool that the condition of electricity there is much better than in delhi). There is a union for everything, buses, autos, rickshaw pullers and even for daily passengers in trains. One friend of mine was made to leave his seat while travelling from Asansol to Howrah in a train because of a daily passengers’ gang. These unions are not for safeguarding the rights of their members but to brand each of their wrongful activity legal. It’s in Kolkata only that you can find a taxiwalla scolding a policeman.
• They save money to extremes. The level of people in Delhi which uses Honda city, the person of the same financial level in Bengal will be using a Maruti 800.

Anyway all people love the city they are born in, because they grow with its negatives and can’t stand anyone saying anything against it even if it’s true.

Atoorva said...

My only complaint with Calcutta is that the city(made up of its people) do not accept you as you are- rather likes to change you as they are , as they see things and as they rate them. This makes a difficult situation for someone like me who is equally stubborn about her ideas and values( right or wrong...modern or conservative ...they are mine and if they are not identical with yours ...its not my problem...I will not force them on you and you too should not try forcing them on me !) :-) . I find your analysis interesting , I agree with most of it . Thanks for the comment .

MARCH said...

The problem that you have mentioned is true and is not confined to Bengalis only, but to every other person on this earth who at least thinks he has an ideology to follow.

If your deeds/thought/independence encroaches on others similar rights to work or think in his/her own way, you need to mend your ways. This is the rule of harmony everywhere. But it is the tendency of people to force their thoughts and way of life on others. It is very rare to find people who appreciate others way of life. People want to be either a master or a follower for others, there are very few who like to be their own master as well as their own follower without bothering how others live. This leads to irritation and conflict. Fight based on language, creed, caste, region and religion is just an offshoot of the same mentality. Mutual understanding and tolerance is what may solve the problems. But people use violence and many other shrewd ways which only multiplies them.

Well you say a lot in a few words which I like about your Blogs the most. You must have by now known this weakness of me looking at the length of my comments and my own blog. Happy Journey.

Advait said...

That's my favorite song! How I long to get moving again... ah ...

Wish you loads of new adventures in Delhi!

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