Thursday, December 2

A Month in Kolkata

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In point of fact, it was more than a month – just before the pandemic – that I spent in Kolkata. It wasn’t easy to start with. I had to be awake precisely the time I sleep in Washington. I walked around like a zombie for a few days as a result. Friends were gracious enough to overlook my vacant look and fading voice.

The air took a few more days. The acrid air literally took my breath away. I gratefully accepted the offer of a mask, but using it seemed like a Sisyphean ordeal. Not only I looked like Darth Vader, I felt like a dog on a leash. I decided to brave the oncoming waves of airborne pollution like a patriotic martyr.

The streets took even more days. A once-a-year visitor, I was determined to walk around, see things for myself, watch the people, explore the stores. The city seemed just as determined to present itself as an obstacle course. The sidewalks were broken and uneven, studded with cracks and cavities; even where repaired, there were hidden traps for unwary heels. In Kolkata, moneyed homes and shop owners have the right, amazingly, to wreck the sidewalk and reshape their front-yard.

Source: The statesman

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