A Sultry Evening Stroll | Milaap

A Sultry Evening Stroll

The lights go off in every house back home too soon. The glimmering lights spread over the hills go off one after another and the awake soul is left in the cold pitch dark space, unable to fathom the different shades of color that are marvelously lit in the city spaces.
I am from Darjeeling but my soul always longed for the city. Perhaps it knew that the city was full of lights. And the sheer fact that I would be able to live on my own fuelled the push to move to a city and live. So, after school, I made my way to the nearest city to study. After studying there for a few years I moved to Kolkata. There were many things I heard about such as the unbearable heat and humidity is the most iterated one. Above everything, it was the city full of the unknown, people whom I didn't know, spaces which I have never navigated, and language which I have never spoken. With fear, excitement, apprehensions and hope I came to the city and carved a place for myself to live in.
And I must say I have no complaints! Below, I tried to capture what a regular night in Kolkata looks like to a man from a faraway place.

No one shall complain when one can walk endlessly in the emptying roads. The cool breeze takes off all the tiredness from the soul.

And there are food stalls pretty much everywhere! I have noticed that Kolkatans eats a lot. Hence, I have deduced that, if my academic career fails I shall open a food stall. Whatever I sell, sweet Kolkatans will eat it all.

I said it already, snacks are everywhere.

The quintessential Yellow cabs run everywhere and can be called one of the symbols of Kolkata. However, the chilled out drivers are better known for saying "Na, jaabona" which translates to "No, I won't go", whenever you ask them to drop you somewhere.

The people here have a sweet tooth and they are nevertheless fond of "Cha" (Tea). And any local tea stall serves good tea. Although it is very different than the tea we have back home, nonetheless it is good. And one can see people sipping on it any time of the day.

Another snack to choose from.

And public transport is cheap, probably the cheapest in the country. These colourful buses take you from one end of the city to the other end for just Rs. 7! It can sometimes be crowded but if one knows how to get empty buses then one will be carried away to another space altogether.

Because the inside of the bus is equally fascinating as the outside colour. It feels like entering into another space! The retro lights and the leather bags (not in the photograph) of the conductor kaku add to the feel.

And people from Kolkata are obsessive readers as well. One can find bookstalls and newspaper stalls everywhere in the city. It wouldn't be wrong to say that it was dear Kolkata which induced in me the desire to read.

But like any other city, Kolkata can be hostile too. Although the people are sweet and helpful one can feel the lack of "real" communication. With the race for stability and better livelihood, one may feel a longing for home and connections.

Kolkata records highest cigarette consumption in India! It is claimed by a survey in 2014.

Personally, I have no issues regarding smoking unless someone unnecessarily exhales the smoke on my face. One can see smoking men everywhere and smoking women in some parts of the city. Not endorsing the use of tobacco, it is indeed unhealthy but seeing the ability of women to use the public space as much as it is used by men was a sort of cultural upliftment for me. It can be an urban phenomenon, still, it is a shock for people who are convinced, backed by the patriarchal doctrines that women cannot smoke!

Kolkata's poor are said to be poorer than the rest. Not diving into economics, the sight as above is always disheartening.

And well, the evening strolling ends with the rickshaw ride to the place I call my second home. All the dizziness is amplified by the ride, a perfect sleep and ready for another day!