Kolkata had always been “The destination” for almost all my summer vacations as far as I remember. Thanks to my father’s job description, which not only got him and his family transferred to different places in North India, it also taught us the skill to board the locomotives within 5 minutes of the permitted stop-over. That’s how remote and insignificant the places were, where we lived in. Baba would, in his own way manage to shove us into the train before the station master showed the green flag.
Re-location to a metro city i.e Chennai was a paradigm shift in our lives. The comfort of boarding a train that would take us directly to the final destination (i.e. Kolkata) without having to change trains in the middle of nowhere was an absolute privilege. We boarded the train with utmost grace since then.
The yearly rituals of being fetched from the station on arrival, to hopping into the dilapidated yellow taxi, to the thrill of watching the organised chaos along with the innumerable colonial structures of the city are etched in my mind and are endeared the most about Kolkata. Perhaps my sense of creative visualization stemmed from the city & my Bengali roots.
The final arrival at the Howrah station gave me a sense of alienation and newness at the same time. The images of the colonial structures of the city and the organised chaos re-appeared en route to my residence from the train station. I had to internalize that a change of perspective was imperative to create a base and a career in the city of joy.
Proof read by Maryann Joseph
Picture Courtesy: Avidip Kundu