Aren’t we all tired of two diametrically opposite views of India, by firangs? It’s either a picture of a poor, dirty country, with everyone living on the streets in a deplorable condition; or it’s that of an unreal opulence, tigers and elephants, palaces and pearls, and velvety grandeur.
And such a partial and distorted image of my home bothers me, as India is poor, it is opulent, and it is everything in between too.
I have even heard people from other parts of the country summarising Kolkata as boat rides on the Ganges, Victoria Memorial, Eden Gardens and a lot of fish and kathi rolls.
Each city has a different colour and aura, each lane has a signature tune and smell. And it’s time we show it off, to explorers at heart.
Traveling is something that people take very seriously now (yes, we Bengalis always did!). Also, the craze of pictures has sent all of us around the world, into a tizzy. So today, we do have ample scope to truly show off to the world, what we hold close. It is the right time to open the doors of curiosity, to let out the secrets of hidden gems, to hold up the blazing torch (or battery operated flash lights, maybe) to show the light in the narrow passageways hiding treasure troves of joy.
When during a Summer Workshop during my college days, a group of around twenty people from different parts of the country wanted to go around the city, I volunteered instantly to show them around. Starting from the cheap and readily available transport, to bright and crisp cotton sarees, everything caught their attention and fancy.
When I hosted two elderly women from UK for an evening, they were impressed by cab drivers turning off the ignition at signals, and intrigued by the variety of fresh fish at the Gariahat market – things that are too mundane for us. I have taken around friends and colleagues too, and in fact, I feel most satisfied when I can show something new in the city to people from the city itself.
But I really feel it’s time a well-oiled machinery of symbiosis is created amongst explorers of the world, to exchange in-depth information. A lot of city tour groups have come up in the last few years, replacing the old school guides and conducted tours, and I wish all of them to do really well.
Even if we personally do not have the time to physically take out people, we can always share pictures and information, to help people who are planning to come to the city, and to tempt others to make plans for coming to my city!
So once again, let us all be show offs! Happy Exploring!
Devpurna, to quote her own words, is a ”Lawyer by day, the quintessential bengali dreamer by night, a foodie since toddler days and oh, an up-cycler on weekends too!
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