Thursday, June 09, 2011

Madras Mail: Part 4

It is easy to forget things, especially when your life depends on it. Calcutta, my Calcutta, you are such a fair city.

None of my friends were given a lot of pocket money in college. But I remember we had a great life. Rarely ever was there an occasion where we felt constrained by money. I mean, yes, we had to think about money. But for God's sake we hung out at Park Street it was perfectly possible to spend an entire day there without spending a hundred bucks. When we did save up, we went to respectable places and had gourmet meals and believe me those were not very infrequent occasions either. We rarely ever took cabs, unless we were in a group, or had a screaming mother/ father at the other end of a phone call. And yet somehow we seemed to stay out late all the time. I returned home at one in the night every once in a while and it would be fast walks followed by shared autos, or buses. I would not have to pay a lot because it was late. The auto driver did not think of hiking the fare just because he could. Even if he did it would be 5 rupee instead of 3 kind of an affair. And oh, the number of options! If you wanted Chinese food, you could go to Chini's where you would be stuffed for 25 rupees. You could go to Tibetan delight if you were in the mood for spending a bit more. If it's a larger group you could go to Tangra- even there you can choose from expensive to backyard restaurants. Still more money? Well, Barbecue, Tung Fong? Still more money? Mainland China. Just look at the options! And the best part - all of them are delicious. Every one of them.

Had I grown up in some other city I would have said- in Calcutta there is something for everyone. But I didn't. In Calcutta I can be all the ''everyone''s. I can share a table with strangers while I hog pan fried mystery-meat momos in the afternoon and go on a fancy date to a fine dining place at night. Why will I be expected to visit a certain kind of a place because I earn a certain amount of money?