writer in the city..!!!..

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It sure is difficult to come up with something worthwhile for moments like these. Pumping city life, grandiose decorations and sheer Puja opulence. Not New York. Not Paris. It’s our very own Kolkata. Look to the right. It’s Nizam’s calling out to you, almost seductively, asking you to buy their mouthwatering chicken chops. To your left again. College Street Book Bazaar. Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Russell and Kafka all engrossed in a heady conversation about love, life, politics, philosophy and realism. Photo frames, higher secondary question papers, screen goddesses and ad hoc portraits by poor, young artists line the antediluvian walls of this slow yet fast, simple yet intellectual City Of Joy. I’m caught in a lively debate over book prices , my expertise at bargaining obviously heading nowhere-all my life , I’ve known James Hadley Chase with its risqué covers to be priced at a measly seventy rupees. And now this little , old book-seller, his shiny , bald head covered with a much weathered , much experienced tuft of cottony-soft silver hair looks up to me , exasperated and cries aloud , “Dear lady , have some mercy on this poor old man. I’ve been struggling to make a living for the past many years and all that I’ve ever been able to do is return home with only a handful of money and yet again tell my grandson I couldn’t bring him his much beloved Tintin comics.”For a minute moment, my heart skips a beat as I gaze into the man’s ebony eyes. Eyes full of despair, of heartbreaking honesty, of infinite love for his little grandson. For the first time in the last many years of my vagabond’s life, I comply, kneeling down to pick up the dusty copies of JHC and thrust a hundred rupee note into the wrinkled hands. My writer’s temperament, now molten into a helpless heap of sentiments urges me to speak a few parting lines,”Dadu go buy your grandson his beloved Tintin. James Hadley would have loved that and so would I.”

The modest things in life make a big shift in the stagnant paradigms of commonplace , self-oriented , bourgeois society , a big difference in the lives of people who we seldom care to even give a glance at, the friendly smiles , a warm hug , or in this case a hundred rupee note .I realised this not long ago , and yet now and then , as I take my early morning walks amidst the luminous , green grasses , allowing the coaxing drops of dew to whet my appetite for some raw natural freshness, I observe a lot of people , from all walks of life defying these truths every now and then ,the truths which sanctify life and make it worth living. Kolkata is one of those places one can forever remain immersed in the tantric dances of ,moment by moment unfolding , wind by wind blowing against one’s face , each miniature raindrop disturbing the serene calm of the hot , dusty 12 ‘o’ clock streets. And one of those places which never fail to surprise you with its contradictions, and strange connotations of life and love. A man driving a Porsche and drawing up his windows when a beggar comes imploring for a single rupee by his car , a while later the same beggar being satisfied with a fifty rupee note given to him by some , good young doctor. Inspiring silences like these, romantic implications like a poet reading out his words to his lover are found to be in plenty in a city like Kolkata. You just need to stop; wait, watch and the magic shall soon unfold. Mishti doi or burgers, kosha mangsho or chicken roast, Byomkesh or Sherlock, Kolkata will always be Kolkata, like it or not, a city of mirth, of sadness, of profound generosity, and of magical moments…





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