Sunday, March 02, 2008

First time in Bongland

In the land of the gol gappa, red flags and large fat farting women. We are in kolkotta now and the difference is obvious from the minute you leave the airplane. All visitors to Kolkotta's domestic airport are greeted first by a large sign exhorting them to visit the ladies' toilet. If that isn't wierd then there is the sign observing that the bong administration is inbetween negotiating contracts for a new trolley service and apologising for the resulting inconvenience. The sign is however dated backwards by a couple of years which leads me to conclude that at a minimum it takes upwards of four years to negotiate a contract at Bongland. I wasn't too off the mark either. At various other transactions I performed later the general air was of someone doing you an absolute favour. From the prepaid taxi booth to the cab driver the air was of a people interrupted from some lofty pursuit into performing something almost trite. The cab driver seemed to be involved in some deep analysis of eighth century Bengali literary circles and his general attitute was that he was filling in for a friend. "Only for the time being", he seemed to be saying. "It's only a favour for a friend, while I am waiting for something better to happen".

The impression seemed to gather momentum as we left for the station in a rickety Ambassador which had seen the light of better days as the official cohort for 'Jyoti Basu'. When we got to the railway station we were mobbed by a group of porters who offered to carry our luggage for as little as twenty rupees into the station. The same in Delhi might have cost ten times as much. When we refused the porters gave up much too easily, perhaps leaving to perform their analysis of Neo-Marxian principles. Calcutta it seems is waiting for something better to happen.


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