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.
- 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.
- They are serving free complimentary goblets of wine at lunch, to Nehru-coat clad, monkey-capped, kids-dangling families.
- 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.
- There are jamming sessions in pubs, where newfound riffs holler with the sound of jazz.
- The ubiquitous muffler is gone. Bandanas are in.
- The straitjackets are off; they are hugging on the streets.
- 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.