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.

12 comments:

Bhagyajeet said...

It can spark up a good campaign CD..truly said..great job!

No doubt Corruption is the root cause of all inefficiencies not only in Kolkata but in all parts of the country today..We will have to proactively participate to enhance life in our country..lets not blame anyone..

Bina said...

Saara khunnas nikaal dia tune.... ;-))))

Kankan said...

"Thermodynamics is a funny subject. The first time you go through it you don't understand it at all.

The second time you go through it, you think you understand it, except for one or two small points.

The third time you go through it, you know you don't understand it, but by that time you are so used to it, it doesn't bother you any more."
--- Arnold Sommerfield

I guess to me, Kolkata is something like that thermodynamics. My opinions are not much different from yours...but for some reason, I miss it.

Kankan

sudheer said...

Hi,
I went throught your website and have to say a class example to good work. I like many of the articles that you have written. I did notice that you study at NJIT (got this link thru orkut). You would make a good writer. Infact I studied at NJIT myself.
Just wanted to say keep up the good work

-Sudheer

Jaroslav Milovich said...

Kolkata is a city the spirit of which has to be perceived like perceiving Kundera's 'Immortality', Sandipan's 'ami o bonobehari', Fassbinder's 'love is colder than death' or Bresson's 'madrid'. The spirit is elitist as the great works of arts are. The perception of greatness of the city is not easy like an american fiction. So better try to understand why so many people love kolkata and what are the intellectual deficiencies in you that makes you incapable of discerning it, then try to develop your intellectual abilities. Else you'll miss one of the greatest perceptions of human life.

Jaroslav Milovich said...

Just to let you know that I have spent 28 years of my life in Kolkata, commuted in those tin-boxes called buses for 10 years (btw, have you seen 'ojantrik' by Ghatak?)... that being said, I would suggest to look for the traits that we love about Kolkata by spending some time there... about 2-3 years would do....

Joseph de Melo said...

Hi guys im planning to study in Kolkata for 1 year at IISWBM (College square west, nr mgmt house). Does anyone know approx how much I will need to survive in terms of living expenses for this period. any inputs much appreciated, thanks

Addy said...

You forgot to write about the attitude of the people and the gruelling negativity that prevails everywhere.

Addy said...

You forgot to write about the attitude of the people and the gruelling negativity that prevails everywhere.

DM said...

I really don't know how many more cities you have lived in India/elsewhere but having lived in many cities around the world I feel 2 mths is a too short time to judge a city's character ...some of the problem u mentioned are reality in today's urban metro i think every 'Big' city in India has terrifying traffic and corruption is rampant everywhere...and i agree live in kolkata for a few more years and then u'll really miss it...like i do now...

Anonymous said...

I am planning to study in Kolkata and thats the reason why I was searching for some articles describing this place.
Your blog gave me a glimpse of Kolkata, thereby helping me have a vague idea of what to expect from this place. Thank you so much for that.
But as far as your conclusion is concerned, I think the conditions you mentioned above are prevailing in Mumbai too. I dont know about the other metros; but in Mumbai I am living since I was 3yr old to date. And things here too are identical.

Anyways I'll soon be there and know for myself if its the same there as here or better or worse.
Nevertheless each of us should strive for the betterment of every part of our country...:)

Anonymous said...

Kolkata has degenerated into the dirtiest, smelliest, noisiest, most ill-planned city in the country. And this pains me because I am a born Kolkatan.