The first time I ever heard Daniel Powter's Bad Day, I was struck by the absolute wrongness of the phrase 'blue sky holiday'; it was an instinctive no-no-no response. I don't want me no blue sky holiday. I think this comes out of the summer afternoons I use to lie spread eagled with my eyes shut on the open-air stage in college, wondering what the fuck I was doing here.
(Free Advice - When you're contemplating existential dilemmas and you're located in a desert, it's probably not the best idea to pick a summer afternoon to do it.)
Kolkata was a nice surprise. I am seduced by the absolute lack of ambition that this city seems to possess. The city stumbles along in a comfortable sort of stupor... warm muggy days coalesce into warm muggy nights coalesce into warm muggy days and time doesn't tick by briskly as much as drip stickily, slowly, like honey; hesitating just a little bit before it goes plop. Everyone always has the time for one more tea, one more conversation, one more pakora. The malls seem to be the only real concession to Modernity (as defined by my beloved Bombay), the rest of the city seems perfectly happy to preserve the Great Colonial Hangover. Not even the malls are MALLS, like the ones in Delhi or Gurgaon. The malls in Kolkata are not as shiny, their displays not as snazzy, their paintwork definitely more on the side of 'grubby' than fresh; even the new ones seem faintly apologetic about their newness. You will note that this is in sharp contrast to the I AM SHINY MALL, HEAR ME ROAR attitude of the Delhi/Gurgaon malls.
One happy discovery I made was that Kolkata is full of sexy smokers. As I have previously described in gratuitous detail, my physical intolerance for cigarette smoke is only matched by my fascination for people who smoke sexily. Somewhere at the beginning of my walk (along Esplanade) I discovered that I was apparently in the middle of the annual meetup of the Sexy Smokers Society, Kolkata Chapter, and for the next twenty odd minutes, I could barely walk straight. Everywhere I turned there was a someone lighting up in an aesthetically pleasing fashion. By the end of my walk I had 1. asthma and 2. whiplash.
And of course, I was DELIGHTED with the Metro, a little bit because of the nice Tagore poetry (translated!) in squiggly text on the walls, but primarily because of the HUNDREDS of weighing machines on the platforms! People who know me know that there are few things I love as much as a weighing machine that has a glass case with shiny glass spinning awesome thingies inside it (you know what I mean), and a slot for coins and another slot that spits out a ticket with your weight in the front and a tactless judgment on your life, on the back. I literally cannot resist these machines, I am helpless in front of them. I only have to look at one and I am a drooling idiot. I have to physically prevent myself from walking over in a hypnotic daze and surrendering all my loose change at its altar. That shit is IRRESISTIBLE.
My most recently obtained ticket has '54.5 kg' on the front and 'Expediency is not an excuse for Falsehood' on the back. I laughed till I cried.
A good friend matter-of-factly refers to my blogposts as 'farts'; there has never been any preliminary or any explanation for this . I am struck anew by the uncanny accuracy of her observation every time I think about it. In any case, I am more than the sum of my blogposts, as of my farts.
Which brings us to the last and the most important question - Asterix or Tintin?
(Hint: The correct answer is Asterix. Seriously, what is the appeal of Tintin?)
(PS - To JD and anyone else who cares - I have not forgotten about a follow-up to the last post, it's planned for a later time.)