A Hill Towner’s City of Joy – A Kolkata Memoir

Most days were hard
Haggling and the heat
Heading out to the streets
To be greeted by
Cold stares, empty eyes, and deceit.

City of crowds, City of queues
City of unending arguments
– Auto fares
– Seats reserved on the bus
– The heat, in general.

It sure is Picturesque,
But it is just as hard.
The Hills calling out to you
Every time a soft breeze blew.
But, what is that aftertaste in the whiff?
Is it mangoes, is it more?
is it the relief of Petrichor?
There isn’t much to say that hasn’t been said
For the City is monotonous.
Numbered buses,
Unnumbered passengers

The bus, like a bloated stomach.

Sometimes its a war-zone at the door

Sometimes you win the window seat

And that’s when you realize,

That the City, it breathes.

Is the City luring you away from Home?
A pang of nostalgia
And an inkling of guilt.
For evenings bejewelled in orange start warming up to you
And so does the clinking clay-pot of tea
And an infinite string of lights greet you
At 4 AM
When you’re out
having danced with a stranger
Whose name you’ll never have known.
The faraway drone of a cicada drowned by the loudness you now call Home.

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1 thought on “A Hill Towner’s City of Joy – A Kolkata Memoir”

  1. Dear redendron,
    As ALWAYS, arrogance permeates Simran like photon in semi-transparent glass. Her account of Kolkata is so unnerving that it forces even those like us, unkept in verse, to write for retribution. The following free verse is written to counter Simran’s claims and is ‘Urdu- ly’ titled “arrogant-e-simran”. Kindly forward her this message. Thank You.


    Weeks went by, with bliss and easy,
    never needing to bargain, oh’ cheap thrills,
    Each corner invited inquisitive gaze,
    tenacious in sweet ignorance.

    Subway hues, and morality of queues,
    for proletariat and slightly more
    in endeavour alike,
    arbitrations in milder undertones.

    It sure is a chaos of scenic sludge,
    but brings into recount cleaner hills
    of slanted roads and demented souls,
    where pride gleams from the abstract.
    But what is that stench which seems to emancipate?
    Is it the sweat of the brow, is it more?
    Is it the relief of conscience,
    of debauchery in minimalism and not more?
    Words seem to fade in talk of this place,
    as if saving themselves for the uninitiated.
    The metropolis hides in a haze of monotony,
    for inhabitants to construct their own sense of the city’s identity:

    Bus, the only functional transport,
    in journeys of distance less, and time more,
    encourages reading in a seat of one’s own.

    Conductor concessions at the door-pole,
    when all you need to travel is a stop or slightly more.

    In tandem with co-conspirators,
    you feign to lose a seat,
    for a person who is not a woman,
    perspiration be thy profuse, seniority unapparent.

    And a reverie spouts the thought-
    that the City is the seat of oppression, not its source.

    Is the City guiding you back to home?
    For new sprouts to be planted here, and there.
    Exhilaration for prospect possibilities,
    Trepidations for what you’ve nurtured.
    For those dawns that crept in, to remind slumber.
    And the sip of Dada, offered by a dada.
    And those gloomy slums, of 4 AM cuisines.

    When you are stranded in rain,
    having debated a stranger,
    whose incident triggers of beliefs you’ll never have known.
    The domestic cookery of beliefs, virtues and knowledge overwhelmed by this cosmopolitan Manger.

Your thoughts?