Living in this small university town made me taking disciplined, organized, friendly crowd, clean streets, no-nuisance neighbourhood for granted. And New York reminded me how wrong I was. It reminded me of another big city.
Dirty subway trains, dirty platforms, commuters leaning on door just beside the warning of not to lean on door, and incomprehensible announcements about upcoming station greeted me on my way to NYC. I was getting more and more comfortable, homely. Then I came out of the subway station at 34th Street, and 'Wow!'. So many people rushing about, street is all crowded, yellow taxis, hawkers yelling and selling things on the sideways, smalltime sellers selling used books and cds on the pavement, people shouting and bargaining, beggars asking for pennies, taxis honking, double decker buses, old torn movie poster on shabby walls, stinking dumpsters just beside a restaurant. I never felt so homely! It is just like Kolkata just little bit scaled up!
In fact Kolkata metro is probably little cleaner than NY subway but its much much smaller in volume, too. Kolkata doesn't have so many skyscrapers. Kolkata has tram, NYC doesn't and Kolkata has a distinctive betel spit decoration that sets her apart. There are some more minor differences such as cops don't pose in fron of their car with tourists in front of Victoria Memorial in Kolkata like they do in Times Square, you can hardly find an open manhole in NYC and things like that. Strikingly its the same life force jostles down the streets of NYC like it does in Kolkata. I guess this is the charecteristics of all the big cities.
And I read this inside the subway ...
"There are roughly three New Yorks.
First, there is the New York of the man or woman who was born there - who takes it for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter - the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out at each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something.
Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion." - E B White
Isn't it true for Kolkata, too?