Saturday, 25 August 2007

Kolkata as I saw it......

During my stay in Kolkata for the past 2 months I learnt that not only does the city have a 400 year old history it also feels 400 years old. With due respect to all residents of Kolkata I have to admit I find the idea of living in Kolkata frightening. It is a city which can drain the life out of every living being. Inspite of the fact that it is one of the 4 metros in India it neither feels nor looks like a metro. Firstly commuting in the city is very difficult if not impossible. The buses, the lifeline of the city and are always overcrowded. Getting up on such buses is a feat in itself. The other modes of traveling are the metro rail, autorickshaws, cycle rickshaws and hand drawn rickshaws. The metro rail though very convenient has only a single route and leaves residents with no opther option but to take the buses and rickshaws. Rickshaws run only within a certain sector. No rickshaw from 1 sector will enter another sector. To top it off rickshaws are hired on sharing basis. And of course there are taxis. However they are exorbitantly priced and except for exceptional situations no one hires a taxi. Secondly geting any work done in the city is like hitting your head against a brick wall. Starting from the Telephone Exchange to hospitals to blood banks nothing functions in favour of the common man unless you have contacts with influential people. I visited the Telephone Exchange hoping to get the much advertised Broadband for Rs 250 installed at home. After 3 visits to the office without tons of documents I was told that it would be 3 months before I could get a new connection. This inspite of the fact that I already have a landline at home. I knew that moment that the only thing I could do at that point was give up hope. So I survived 2 months without constant internet connection visiting internet cafes in my locality till I fractured my leg and then even that had to stop. As for healthcare in Kolkata the less said the better. It must me every man's nightmare to fall ill but falling ill in Kolkata is like your worst nightmare come true and to have one of your loved one fall ill is worse. Now what could be worse than your nightmare coming true....Not sure..I tried thinking about it but couldn't find the right words. So I will just leave taht to your imagination.
Actually living in Kolkata is like trying to live in an ancient city of Hampi today. It had a glorious past but revelling in the glories of the past will never help the city. Maybe it will jsut remain a beutiful chapter in the history of India but in the current era of liberalisation it's name will be lost. The only signs of modernity in the city is corruption and poverty. Corruption which has become so deepseated that it will be hard to pull out. Ofcourse I admit that corruption exists in other cities too but then so does a better life. In Kolkata everyday is a fight for survival. And living in this city for 1 year can reduce any average person's life span by 10 years.
Actually I would love to write more about that city .....more about my experiences there. But I am just not in the mood now. I will definitely write 1 about "hell-th care in Kolkata" very soon. For today i guess I will just post this much.