A bong outside Bengal…and its Durga Puja. More than perfect ingredients to bitterly miss Kolkata. And then the brutal addition of traditional spices by the various means of social websites and apps.
Kolkata – probably the only metro city where nascent love still brews up economically in a non-air conditioned taxi. Painted mercilessly with multiple coats of yellow. To look neat, bright but still ugly.
The window glasses usually in an intimate relationship with dust, even when lowered down fully, fails to extract much air out of the humid climate. But as they say, Love is blind…or at least initially it is. The newly ‘fallen for each other’ couple busy in the hide and seek of ‘trying to express’ and ‘feeling shy to express ’ have no much concerns for the elements of atmosphere. The only concern is avoiding the glance of of Taxi Kaku (the driver referred as uncle, more as historically done so and very less out of respect) in those moments of courage when their hands reaches for each other. For Taxi Kaku it’s not a new occurrence. Hence he pays more attention to the ‘Gutka’ that kind of fuels him up. Love churns up in the back seat, the fare meter churns at the front. Mutually independent yet supportive.
Traditional tea stalls are yet another interesting habitat in Kolkata where nascent love attempts to cross few milestones. No, we are not talking of the tea stalls just adjacent to the bus stop often greeted by black smokes. These are a located a little interior to the main road, has a provision of a seating space often in the form of an old bench with unlimited scribbling on top. The list of availability is not long, probably limited to two variants of local bakery biscuit and maybe a local made bun. But the place has a sense of warmth apart from the warmth of the tea.
After the tuition teacher frees the flock of college students, often a couple (or maybe a potential couple) finds an excuse to stop a few minutes, to sip a cup of tea, to bask a little more in the suspense of whether the likeness has stepped into the territory of love or a little waiting is still awaited. Multiple helpless biscuits get drowned in the tea as they enjoy the sweet silence among them, amidst the cacophony around. The old radio, lying on a dusty shelf, murmuring a few old classics in its unclear voice often contributes to the mood. And they leave presenting each other a smile to celebrate the accomplishment of few more steps ahead. They are not shielded by the glances of people enveloping a gamut of expressions and reactions. But those few minutes can always be attributed to the blindness of love.
And then there are numerous such places alike in Kolkata which are immune to the costly coziness of CCD. To the richness of the pubs, to the menu card that carries a long list of foods whose name are difficult to pronounce, to the freedom of 2 hours for which you need a reservation. To all those places which are entangled in the economics of the moolah. Love in Kolkata is still warmly economical.
The old iron bench behind the old church, the ‘cleaned once in a year’ steps of the community pond or even the imperfectly mowed grass of the children’s park. They all still participate to be a part of numerous love stories. Sharing together a plate of roadside stall snack which was mercilessly deep fried in a cheap edible oil carries a different genre of romance which often the knife and fork of the costly restaurant fails to build. The delight of watching her fight for an extra ‘fuchka’ delivers a contentment which is probably a far cry for the exotic milieu of the expensive lounge draped in formality. The mystic joy of laughing out loud together when the local bakery biscuit commits suicide into the tea remains unmatched. A lot may happen over a coffee, but much more happens over an roadside egg roll here.
That’s Kolkata. Perhaps the only metro which is not yet so metro-ish..!! Perhaps the only metro where life and love has not become completely secluded into mobile passwords and speed of wifi. Probably the only metro where love has still not entered the trap of ‘right and left slide on Tinder’. But still flourishes traditionally. Kolkata is slow paced – and perhaps that’s the reason Love here has the time to be slowly brewed…adding flavors with every stir.
Often words like Humid, crowd, dirt share a bond with this city. But scratch a bit more and you shall find abundant love. A lot in the beautiful immature form, innocently polluted by adolescence. That’s why even the over protective shy child of a Bong mother, often more famous by the stupid nicknames of Poltu, Bhutai, Booglu etc when steps into the teenage cultivates a silent wish for Durga Puja. To see his crush beautifully draped in the traditional red bordered white saree. Let the heart skip a beat or two.
And that sublime feeling remains exempt of any kind of richness or glamour.
Love in Kolkata is still warmly economical…!!!