Monday, December 29, 2008

Coming back to life

It takes time to get used to the fact that I have landed in India. Reality seeps in slowly. I was getting cues at various levels, right from the beginning of the flight, which got slightly delayed because of some un-put-downable passengers; then the messy arrival lounge - after one month of Mumbai massacre, Mumbai international airport still looks so casual! It is now under renovation. Dimly illuminated, shabby arrival lounge is sure not going to make any positive impression on anyone and this is one of the main, if not the the busiest, port of entries to India! Cues continued - experiencing the driver's respect for traffic signals on my short journey through Mumbai traffic between international and domestic airports; semi-dark, dirty, water-logged rest room of Kolkata airport, and then everyone talking in Bengali ... I sure am back in India. The moment I joined the airport leaving traffic in Kolkata, I realized why New York City seemed so familiar after coming from the tranquil State College. Cars honking at each other, jumping signals, pedestrians crossing the roads like the acrobat maneuvering on the trapeze, hawkers shouting at the sidewalk ... life in a metropolitan city is basically same everywhere, be it New York or Kolkata. I was a bit scared to cross the road even at the zebra crossing as cars continued to rush in even on red light! Distance between two cars were hardly two meters - drivers have a very strong sense of proportion, visual measurement skill and sense of size of the car they are driving, otherwise it is impossible to drive in roads here.

But with all its apparent haphazardness, chaos or disorder, there lies an amazing current of vitality and vigor. Life in a city like Kolkata needs an enormous amount of life-force. Life in cities like State College seems so clockwork, so boring now. Being in Kolkata forces me to be alive, awake!

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