Thursday, July 16, 2009

Scribbles in-between flights

Managed to get out of Calcutta in the nick of time. Tired of early morning and late evening flights – had booked myself on the afternoon 3 O’ clock flight.. Couldn’t have timed it better, the city is now up in flames as a reaction against yesterday’s violence in Mangalkot (Burdawan) where some Congress leaders were assaulted by CPM cadres. Trust ABP and Star Ananda to come up with the news caption: "Mangal Kot e A-Mangal".

Nina wasn’t as lucky. She was planning on traveling tomorrow – but a 12-hour Bandh has been declared in the city. So, she can now get back only on Saturday - just in time for our trip to Pune.

The Speaker of the West Bengal Assembly - Hasim Abdul Halim – has gone on record today saying – “ the Police should be active - neither be ‘over-active’ or ‘in-active’. I have been at the receiving end of latter in the last few weeks – when despite instructions from the CM’s office the police has refused to move – ignoring orders of the District Administration.

Somehow – I get the feeling that Buddha will be Bengal’s Gorbachov. He will oversee the end of the Left Front rule in the state. As a friend remarked, unless Mamata works real hard at political suicide and self-destruction – there’s no stopping the Trinamool from coming to power in 2011........................

Landed in Mumbai to find the Meru cabs have been shunted out of the airport – under pressure from the Black and Yellow (Kali-peeli) and Blue (Cool) Cabs who were losing business to them. A new system of “pre-paid” cabs has been introduced from today – but being unhappy with the arrangement the Black and Yellow cabs went on a boycott. So …chaos !! After a long wait managed to get home in Blue Cab – finally !!........................

Went for the Bastille Day function in Calcutta on the 14th. A sedate affair (mercifully !!) in comparison to the massive gala in Mumbai – where, I believe, the crowd danced to “ Om Shanti Om” ( how typically French !! ...Carla would have loved it no doubt) till the wee hours ...…..

Till last year Calcutta didn’t have a full-fledged Consul. And, under the patronage of the “Hony Consul” - a prosperous city businessman - the celebrations were like a veritable “shaadi bari” – with long queues for dinner.

(Sunanda K Datta-Ray had written a piece some years back – about how Calcutta has been converted into a city of “Hony Consuls” – with more and more countries closing down their Consulates as cost-cutting measure. One, therefore, hardly saw the cars with “CC Number plates” anymore. They aree replaced by those marked “Hony Consuls”, which has become some kind of a status symbol in the business community)

But, the Sarkozy government isn’t so generous. Therefore, the consulate has to depend on ‘sponsors’ - usually French companies who have establishments in town or other businesses with some French connection – to pick up the bill for the wine and dinner. Since, Calcutta doesn’t have too many of these - the scale of the reception has to be necessarily modest.

The story isn’t very different for other countries – at least the European ones for sure – either. The Indian Embassies and Missions are among the few – who splurge on their National Day ( in fact – for us it’s 2 days – 26th January and Independence Day). Perhaps, an assertion of our new-found economic affluence........................

Atoned for the indulgences of the last few days – with a dinner of spinach, mushrooms and tofu blanched in sesame oil with some steamed broccoli on the side. Hope it is as healthy as it is made to sound.

Tho’, had a mean Khow-Suey with some lovely Riesling at the young Banerjees of Mandeville Gardens last evening.