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[ This post is an original, new entry to the BlogAdda “Mera Bharat Mahan” contest.

The Coffee Mug from Pringoo, that I’m totally looking forward to grab… ]

I was not much patriotic. Honestly. Like any other average Bengali boy in his early youth, I was taught to think like a World citizen, “not thinking or giving in to these petty territorial and regional feelings” by our leftist-liberal Bong teachers. Nationalism was thought to be a crime, a distorted mindset, like Fascism or something…and though the heart used to speed up during an India-Pakistan cricket match, or the Parliament or Mumbai terrorist attacks, or when our troops died fighting the Maoists…it again went back to it’s normal laid-back indifferent mode after sometime. Not till the day I met those Irish tourists…

I was in Calcutta for a documentary shoot. I still call it Calcutta, however colonial it might sound, cause I couldn’t get over the nostalgic romanticism of my childhood, for this typical anglo-saxon name, and I frankly don’t care what the Bengali purists think. (Apparently, that didn’t change…!) I was in Park street, the original Las Vegas of the East…with a wishlist for change that ranged from the weather, to the hypocritical intellectuals, to the government employees and the “work culture” of this city.

Kolkata, Bongland, Cholbe-na land, lots of names were given when I was in college in Pune, which I found out to be ironically true as I passed my Grads. This city was plagued by the notorious work culture, infamous for it’s cancerous laid back approach. It’s a miracle if the Govt. offices open on time, with the speed of the files being passed from one table to the other, giving serious complex to snails.

As it happened, the day was a Bandh (General Strike). Now Government offices close on Bandh day, ironically, called by either the opposition (natural), or the ruling party (definitely not natural). Now how can a ruling party workers union call a strike against it’s own Government is something which baffled closet philosophers like me since ages…apparently with no positive answers…

We came down to the roads, which are supposed to be the arteries of the city lifeline, and which have more potholes, than the traffic lights, and the places that don’t have the potholes, (!!!) is dug up by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, in a diligent bid to improve our standard of living. Now people who are uninitiated with this city, is invited to visit just before the monsoons, to see beautiful unending portions of land which can be mistaken for sites of the Archeological survey of India. Obviously now why does the KMC always digs up just before the monsoons, is another of those unanswered questions…

If the arteries of the city is always clogged like this…it’s no wonder, the city is dying a painful slow death…

Our sufferings and ranting should have stopped, but it would be injustice to not mention the ornament of public transport, the Taxi, and Bus services. Now in normal day the Govt. buses do run, vehicles made of tin…and it’s God’s grace they run. The Private buses drivers are very much inspired by classic Formula one rivalries. You won’t face these problems in the Taxi service, cause they simply refuse to go, during their siesta time. And then there are the Trams…magic on wheels, the fastest mode of transportation, which are mostly found static, with their wheels derailed, or being pulled by a breakdown van. Considering the fact, that the same trams are running since the British period, you can’t really blame them…

In a Bandh day, there were no such problems. There were no such transports…

Finally we came down to Parkstreet, shot a couple of rough shoots, was thinking of leaving the god forsaken place, and was searching for a good tourist party, before wrapping up. Met those Irish tourists…apparently joyful that they were to be interviewed. I still remember their answer. “It’s a chaotic, huge and warm country, guess that’s why the people are so warmhearted…we feel so at home…”

I realized that maybe that feeling is something we never had…and we went on cribbing and whining…Yes, we have scamsters and frauds as politicians, yes we have worldclass bridges, shopping malls, and airports, but don’t have good godowns to save food grains, our failure female tennis players are given all the page three limelight, when the greatest badminton player of the world from the same state is not even mentioned in a oneliner…we have scotch sipping intellectuals sitting at the comfort of their posh city apartments, instigating poor tribals to go against the mighty state, so that they can manage some TV footage, and grab a peace award or two…but at the end of the day, it’s our own country…and you don’t crib against your own mother, even if she is suffering from cancer…

“Breathes there the man, with soul so dead…who never to himself hath said…this is my own…my native land…”

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