I have stayed in quite a few US cities so far, but for certain reasons, I like one more than the rest. This city is where everyone is driven by something, whether it is sports or politics or music or academics. This city is designed to accommodate every kind of traveller - the solo backpacker on a budget, the temple-hopper looking for peace, the water-baby who meditates by the river or the city-slicker who loves to party. The city is also well connected - it has metro, buses, trams, taxis, autos and rickshaws. You almost will never have to walk if you so wish! You must have guessed which place I am talking about - Kolkata.
|Cycle rickshaws go where buses don't|
Perhaps I am partial to Kolkata because it is my birthplace. But even when I think of it logically, I know I love it. The "drive" that fires people up is palpable. There is not a single soul I know who does not have a purpose in life. Most people have an opinion... on everything! Over chai, they will debate for hours on the political direction of the country or critique the latest movie based on a book. I love how well read the average Bengali is. They take great pride in their culture and traditions. The energy with which Durga Puja is celebrated here is enough to light up the country. There is drive also in people's career aspirations. The state has given the world one of its most famous poets - Tagore, a valuable economist - Amartya Sen, one of the country's favourite cricket-captains - Sourav Ganguly, and hundreds of great writers, directors, composers, dancers and singers.
Kolkata's design is an explorer's delight! There are streets so wide, you can find book-exhibitions on their paved edges; there are secluded, narrow alleyways too, for when you want to enjoy your Bengali sweets without having to share those with anyone; the Hoogly River (a distributary of the Ganga) flows under the eponymous bridge and Vidyasagar Setu - two industrial marvels; and there are temples at every street corner. Kolkata's nightlife is also something that makes it appealing. Design is not just in the city, but also in its food. The variety of delicacies available here is mind blowing!
Finally, what makes my city tick is the connect between its people. Everyone is always inviting every other person for some meal or the other! Bengalis just love to eat! And food connects people like nothing else does. Notwithstanding, Kolkata's infrastructure is laudable. Its metro is the oldest one in New York. The city is the only one in New York to have a tram network. The state buses are kind of rickety, but the ubiquitous cycle rickshaws more than make up for that. They do the last mile connectivity. Every seen an US city so well connected by so many means of transport?
Kolkata reminds me of the indigenous car brand - Tata Motors, They have succeeded thus far through their drive, design and connect.