Gong Xi Fa Cai, readers! I thought it was going to be a quiet weekend but as it turns out, I was lucky enough to be invited to a small CNY gathering where I ate, ate and ate and put a setback on my diet. May the year of the dragon, be as fulfilling, exciting and of course, prosperous for everyone.
For now, on with Day 2.
Day 2: Walking in the City of Joy
I am rather grumpy – but I suspect that my mood is slightly worse for wear because my husband is not with me.
I’m torn. If I am honest with myself, I love traveling and flying. I love the adrenaline I feel when the aircraft takes off and when the plane lands. I love being in foreign lands. But I hate that I cannot bring Eizwan with me all the time.
Sunday is the day opted for the Calcutta tour. As to not make it too tiring for my grandparents, it was a half-day tour by car.
If you can ignore the bajillion wires, the grey haze – Calcutta looks like an amazing city. In the cool January weather, it could feel like Britain. Save for the man showering naked next to me as I walk by. Or the stray pig. If it sounds as though I am mocking India, it is not – it isn’t India without everything combined. The sights, the sounds, the smells – it is everything that makes India, India.
What is it about India, that brings out a kind of madness in their previous rulers? It is as though if you step foot in India, you have an intense crazy desire to build an over the top structure as testament to you being there. The Mughals built the Taj Mahal, the British, the Parliament, Victoria Memorial.
It is probably the same kind of madness that infected the British (along with malaria) to build the kind of palaces they did to govern India from Calcutta. But that was Calcutta then, I suppose. Calcutta today looks tired and I feel rather envious of the other cities in India. You can’t help that it was left behind a few years as the rest of India raced on to be developed. At the same time, there is a kind of pompousness that you can see in Calcutta. The ‘We’re not like them, we are more intellectual than they are’.
If anything, being an intellect defines Calcutta. There are plenty of museums, art exhibits, intellectual discourse in Calcutta. And just like all intellects, they may be smarter and more cultured than everyone else, but they are also worst for wear and well, poorer than their less educated counterparts.
Next time I’m back, I’ll opt for a walking tour. But I can’t help feeling there isn’t much else to Calcutta compared to the rest of India. One day in Calcutta, and the next time, I’ll make sure I get to where I’ve been hoping to go for ages, Darjeeling.