What do you do when your city is dying? Do you feel sad like when a person you know dies? Do you tell others, “don’t worry, everything will be all right”? Maybe even go for the “inhe dawaon kee naheen, duaon ki zaroorath hain” line.
Well, if the city’s Calcutta, you eat. Calcutta might be dying (it’s been dying for the longest time, really—Rajiv Gandhi thought it was dying even back in the 80’s) but there’s always a huge variety of interesting food available in the city to take your mind off that sort off stuff. And while cities that are not dying might offer, on paper, a lot more, much still remains to be said for Cal’s cuisine which is a part and parcel of the city unlike, say, Korean food in Delhi.
Eating out in Calcutta consists largely of three cuisines: Chinese, Mughlai and Continental (a British Raj relic). There’s also “Indian”, which is a euphemism for Punjabi, but it doesn’t make sense to sample that on a trip to Cal when you now live in Delhi. There are hardly any Bengali restaurants in the city, although this is changing now.
Tangra, Calcutta’s main Chinatown, still bustles; had a tough time getting a table at Kim Fa on Christmas day. Calcutta’s other Chinatown, Tiratti Bazaar, though, I was told has shrunk down.
It’s amazing the way the political graffiti, flags and other paraphernalia has changed in favour of the Trinamool Congress. Just by looking at Calcutta, you can make out that the Left Front is on the back foot--which is pretty much the same conclusion that you’ll reach on talking to Calcuttans. From Taxi-drivers to book-sellers to commuters on those new-fangled, low-floor buses, everyone I spoke to felt “it was time for a change”. Of course, it must be kept in mind that the city has never been a great Left supporter anyway, but this time around people aren’t wishing for a CPM defeat, they are, or so they feel, prophesising it.
Of course, you never know with the temperamental Mamatadi. This sort of rise can induce a number of mistakes—spelling, for one.
Might be a pun, although it’s highly unlikely. For all its warts, Bengal’s politics, unlike the rest of the country, has little to do with caste.