Wednesday, February 10, 2010


It was 5 in the morning. The taxi was running at breathtaking speed. The sound of the motor accompanied by the infrequent honking was tearing the morning calm which lies on the roads of North Kolkata; Jessore Road in this case. Occasionally, some homeless street dweller peeped out of his rags with scornful eyes scolding us for breaking his sweet sleep. It was cold and misty outside but I felt warm. Partly because of the wonderful 'Pepe Jeans' jacket that I was wearing but mostly because of the fact that I had had a peaceful week long vacation away from the hectic life in Bangalore and the atrocities at work.
The taxi took a turn towards the approach road of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport. Within an hour, I would be heading back to Bangalore via a 6:30 am IndiGo flight. And it was then that I realized how much 'change' I had witnessed over the past week. Attitudes, cultures, music, roads, transportation, Kolkata; in short, Life had changed. I was like the NRB (Non-Resident Bengali) coming back to his homeland wishing to see it as it was - untouched, unstained, pure; just as he had left it only to realize that it wasn't. It had changed. It had evolved. It had moved on.
10 days ago when my 10 am SpiceJet flight from Bangalore touched down at the NSCBI airport in Kolkata, I was relieved. Not because the flight had landed safe but because I had successfully managed to escape. Escape from office, from ever-demanding bosses, from the harrowing life that I was leading in Bangalore over the past month. Then when I came out of the airport, I saw the first 'change'. Beautiful Volvo buses waiting outside ready to whisk us away to whichever corner of the city we wanted to go. We got on one which was going to Tollygunj via the VIP Road. It was similar to the ones we travelled in in Bangalore; just as comfortable, just as fast and just as smooth. But that was not all. Most of the old 1970's/1980's private buses had been replaced with JN Nurm buses too. Cool!
So had Kolkata finally grown up? Had it changed its mindset and started accepting the norms set worldwide instead of creating its own and following it?
There was so much more which had changed in the city. Kolkata Metro had added more stations and renamed some of the existing ones to its legendary Bengalis' names. There were station names like Mahanayak Uttam Kumar, Kavi Nazrul and Masterda Surya Sen. Some way to uphold Bengali culture! Ah yes, the legendary CPI(M) leader and ex-Chief Minister of West Bengal, Jyoti Basu had expired; but he was still in the hearts of the people (as claimed by the "shouting" posters all throughout the city). To my amazement, Bengali film industry fondly known as Tollywood had started incorporating Bangla Rock in its songs. Wow! Thats some advancement.
Now lets cut short to 4th of February. I was in Kolkata (somewhere near Dum Dum) attending my dear friend - Raja's wedding. In between I had made a 3 day trip to Jamshedpur, met up with our 12D's King KC - Joshi who is now enlightening XLRI with his amazing "skills", taken some friends out for dinner, bitterly broken up with a once-dear friend and yes, got some much-needed car driving practice. The wedding was a wonderful ceremony, the typical traditional Bengali wedding complete with the Subho-drishti, mala-bodol and basi biye; nothing different from the other ones that I had attended before. But somehow it got me thinking. Was it time for me to plan for my other life, the one apart from my career? Was it time to come out of that pub-hopping, weekend timepassing, HIMYM (for those who don't know what it is - its the acronym for 'How I Met Your Mother'; if you still don't know what that means, leave it.) watching life? Was it time to get serious about stuff other than my profession?
So there I was at the NSCBI airport in Kolkata, waiting for my flight back to Bangalore. Back to that hectic life. Back to that daily struggle albeit with some new energy. But what occupied my thoughts were those questions, those "changes". Kolkata, people there, my friends had "changed". So do I need to do the same? Do I need to "Change"? Or had I changed already?

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Abhishek Saha
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
A NRB (Non Resident Bengali) or rather a 'Probashi Bangali'; born in Kolkata, brought up in Jamshedpur and now trying to make his mark at IIM Lucknow.
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