The City Of Joy

The announcement from the flight attendant woke me up from the mild slumber and I looked down. The display of small bright lights seemed to decorate the whole city and gave its meaningful name The City of Joy!

After all the waiting in queue for check-out and baggage, I exit the aerodrome and hail a taxi. The hum-drum of the markets, the chitter-chatter of human ocean, screeching autos, honking buses….nothing seems to have changed in this part of the world. After a drive of about one and a half hours, I finally reach my destination. Tired with the travel, I decide to retire to bed.

I wake up in the morning to the sacred chants and bells of the nearby Kali Temple, and sit quietly for sometime, taking in the words and the music that surround me. Somewhere in a distance, a melodious voice practicing the Rabindra Sangeet, keeps floating by. It is only early morning, but the city is raring to go.

I step out of the house to get the feel of the place once again like old times. Everything is still so much same around here. The small corner shops crowded with the patrons of the Chai which is still served in the small earthen pots (it has a distinct and unmatched flavour to it), roadside vendors arranging their wares for the long and hot day ahead, the women with baskets of flowers shouting at the top of their voice to attract customers, the newspaper vendor, reading a Bengali supplement (he does not seem to be bothered at all with the customers coming in, he deftly handles them alongside his reading), freshly washed clothes hanging for drying on the pavements, the semi-nude people taking bath on the roadside municipal taps, the yellow hooded taxis lined up against the side-walk, the hand-pulled rickshaws makings its way, meandering along the increasing traffic of the day, people unassumingly crossing the road, unaffected by the approaching tramlines…….the whole buzz of the place gives a certain soothing feeling, I feel so silent even in all this chaos, I feel at home.

As afternoon draws, the city falls into a silent slumber, a contrast to the noise of the mornings and the evenings. The same buzzing roads that were beaming with people draws into a shell of quite sleep. The afternoon siesta is still a ritual here. Only a few teenagers, who take pride in defying the laws – both at home and outside – could be seen on the roads. Hanging out in packs of 6-7 they occupy the corners of every lane, the Adda, as it is called in Bengal. A puff of smoke, a crack of joke, some naïve comment on the giggling schoolgirls……and then there are a few, who keep up with the spirit of the sports. Converting the by-lanes into a pitch, the wannabe “Gangulies” will play cricket and cheer more than the grandeur of the Eden Gardens….this city definitely has its distinct charms. The perfect blend of the old bygone era and the new lifestyle.

As they say, it is essential to trace back your roots once in a while to be grounded. Somewhere, the same roots keep pulling me back to the Joy that this city has to offer!

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