Three cities in ten days

I am back from India after a holiday that seemed far too brief. I went back to Siliguri, now wracked by the Gorkhaland agitation. We had planned a short holiday in the hills but had to hastily cancel it as there was a bandh call, which in the event got cancelled. It is difficult to go for a holiday with the possibility of a Damocles sword hanging over you, no matter how beautiful the destination may be. Perhaps the agitators would do well to remember this. Once the golden goose is killed, there will be no more eggs, golden or otherwise.
Calcutta where we spent a couple of days was as Calcutta always is : dusty and crowded. I visited the Mohun Bagan ground after a long time and met Subir and his friends, of which I will write at length later. I saw the lights of Park Street, looking pretty good this year; it appears that the Park Street is recovering somewhat from the raggedness that it had fallen into during the eighties and the nineties. The roads as usual were chockablock with the most undisciplined traffic in the world. It never fails to amaze me that that the traffic is as unruly and chaotic as I have ever seen. In my 50 odd years of existence it has not changed a bit! Only I saw some better looking buses, sleek and with large windows. I unfortunately have become so cynical that my only thought was that this would not last too long, the next time I come to Calcutta I confidently expect them to have either disappeared or taken the specially Calcutta decayed look.
Chennai is where we next went and here we stayed for a couple of days. My family is still there; my wife is attending the annual conference of the anesthesiologists. The roads are better than Calcutta’s, but only the main ones. One autoride took us through some back lanes that rivaled even Bihar roads in the number of potholes. The autos here are famously crooked; no doubt they are members of some powerful union. And though I hate to criticise any city other than my own,I do feel that Chennai always seems to be too provincial. The local insistence of not being able to understand what you are saying, and a disregard for any cultures other than their own, labels it , in my opinion, a backwater, no matter how rich its indigenous culture may be. Also, a buffalo drawn cart, which we encountered, was a sight that is not seen even in Patna nowadays.
However Nalli’s sari shop which I have been visiting for the past two decades at regular intervals seems much the same as usual. I am intrigued at the number of women who are buying saris at 10 30 AM. The whole shop, all three floors of it is crowded. Surprise! One of the salesmen actually spoke to us in broken Hindi! Maybe even Chennai is changing! I remember the first time I came here you could get saris which cost from 25 to 10000 rupees. The lower limit has risen to Rs 65 I noticed , and the sky as usual remains the upper limit. Incidentally we bought our daughter her first sari here, so this visit was really special!
Flying to Malaysia from Chennai and Bangalore is a real pain. The flights are all at the middle of the night, so that you don’t get much sleep and it is really difficult to work the next day. I am getting too old for this, the next time I must come one day earlier, or take the Calcutta flight. It reaches here late at night, but at least you get to sleep in your own comfortable bed instead of Jet airways non reclining back seats( “ preselected for you sir”.) Though why I do not know considering that I had bought my tickets ages ago, I should have been entitled to something less than the worst seats I should have thought. The flight was absolutely full, in fact all the flights we took were fully booked up, the economy is certainly recovering.
Already, arriving at KLIA gives a feeling of homecoming. The brightly lit airport, familiar sights, the easy and comfortable taxi ride home makes me feel good. No hassles, no strikes, no shouting and yelling at the taxi line. Hey, is Malaysia seducing me with its charms?


diegostrikes said…
Enjoyed reading every bit, you've drawn nice analogies and otherwise. :)
Alan said…
This is a very interesting blog and so i like to visit your blog again and again. Keep it up.


Popular posts from this blog

Eyewitness to the Great Calcutta Killing

The Teesta Floods of 1968

The Poetry of Shiv Kumar Batalvi