Friday, July 11, 2014

Population in East are fun guy

More quick notes from another day in Kolkata. Incidentally, almost all deal with stereotypes.



  1. People in Kolkata love football - well, at least during the World Cup. Everyone talks about last night's game- salesmen, shopkeepers, flatboard rickshaw drivers, flatboard rickshaw squatters, bus conductors - almost everybody I ran into today. Most watch it, too, as their droopy eyes constantly being rubbed would suggest. Contrary to most other cities in India I've seen, the sport penetrates all class barriers. Even in snaky bylanes next to ponds where kids secretly bunk school to take a dip and their mothers wash clothes at the other end of the same green mess, you know each house's loyalty by the flag sticking out on its door. Barbershops carry huge posters of Neymar or Messi, and of course, bars conveniently located next to software companies' offices offer happy hours well past midnight, too. Possibly the only flags that are as common as those of Brazil and Argentina here are those of…
  2. …unions. They have offices everywhere, and their political affiliations are also pretty clear by the face or colour pasted all over these flags. It's mind-boggling how there's a union office at every single local train station. Just to give context, if you're in Mumbai, there's a union office at the end of platform 1 of not just Dadar, Ghatkopar or Churchgate, but even Bhandup, Sewri and Titwala. Or if you're in Delhi, a union office not just at Rajiv Chowk or Central Secretariat, but even at New Ashok Nagar, Jasola and GTB Nagar. Their coverage is immense, and truly awesome- something FMCG sales organisations could possibly learn a lot from. Or not - the ideal economy would possibly pave the way for them, but that's a story for another time. Speaking of paving the way and ideal economies…
  3. Public transport here, save for those few aforementioned marshy stretches, not just has massive reach, but is extremely affordable, too. One thing Delhi, with a bit of political will, could pick up to ease its traffic woes could be how autos in Kolkata are strongly regulated, being allowed to run only on set routes, and registered as such. Government-managed buses do the little corners autos looking to make steady cash miss, and for everything else, there are the imitable yellow cabs, who don't mind making the most of the little space for economic rent-seeking by taking long shortcuts.
  4. People often talk of Kolkata reminding them of an old-world city. Yes, the hand-pulled rickshaws are gone, but there remain carts with just flat boards behind them which act as replacements! There're the fancifully archaic names, with many roads named for past dignitaries' visits but of no other relevance today - there's probably a road named after every single visiting monarch or capital of a visiting head of state's country. Yet, there's a charm about it all - I won't go so far romantically as to feel a je ne sais quoi - but in a way one finds their grandmother's stories fascinating. In fact, if anything, Kolkata has a distinctly European feel - great public transport, the omnipresent love for football, the gaudy women, the pretty women, the omnipresent smoking, women smoking, and countless anachronisms which are just part of the city's daily hustle and bustle.

P.S. - Oh, that horrible much-exploited joke. Sorry, had to squeeze some Easterly thing in there.

2 comments:

rothinzil said...

Don't the buildings (the colonial ones) just add to the European feel ? :)

Murty said...

Not been that much to that part of town, doRothy. Stuck shuttling between the effective Gurgaons and Kalindi Kunjs of Kolkata. The one visit to Park Street raised the obvious comparison to CP, of course. :)