It has changed. The lights have grown brighter, the horns blare more, and there are more people on the streets, more swashbuckling cell-phones, and more suave cars burning their rubbers. Every time I walk down the familiar lanes, I feel the same. Now, as a matter of fact, it is more tangible.

  1. Crazy Horse, yes the one I used to watch on TV, is coming down to Calcutta. Can you believe it! The poster shouts, with its benign umber and white stockings.
  2. They are serving free complimentary goblets of wine at lunch, to Nehru-coat clad, monkey-capped, kids-dangling families.
  3. The music stores have pushed the Bengali pop numbers to their back-shelves. They now cover Byrds, Dylan, Ozzy Osborne, Kenny G and Lynryd Synryd. And Calcutta never understood Hindi anyway.
  4. There are jamming sessions in pubs, where newfound riffs holler with the sound of jazz.
  5. The ubiquitous muffler is gone. Bandanas are in.
  6. The straitjackets are off; they are hugging on the streets.
  7. Calcutta has vanquished her freedom to urinate on sidewalks.

And a seventeen-year-old boy, in his tattered vest tugs on his two goats with bells that herald the holiday season. And a beggar with her kid tucker under her blouse watches the glitterati with the impassivity of a snake that’s forgotten to hibernate. And among other incongruous fragments, a sadhu, in decadent yellow-orange, strums his ektara in sync with the notes of a faraway past.

Park Street is moving. Quite fast.