British

Darjeeling Sling

Posted by admin on February 04, 2017
OtherCities, OtherWorlds / No Comments

 

Darjeeling, Darjeeling, oh Darjeeling…

Queen of the Hills… Darjeeling

To be in her laps, is like stirring in the midst of clouds

flowing down the crag

that embraces you in its chilly, cotton,

nauseating swing

transporting you to a distant past, memories that are

black & white – the monochrome that sets in the town,

in the drenched high streets, ridges, alpine trees

after a cold, sad rain that brings

thick, bluish fog of eve

that chokes the life out of this presumptuous old hag

 

Along the streets that rise

from the chaos of lower bazaars

Past damp, derelict looking wood

and concrete clusters of buildings,

past the moss-covered clock tower

The ticklish whiff of momo and tongba steaming

in the air from roadside eateries and bars

Walking up the winding streets

dazzling with yellow lights from shops, as girls with fresh pinkish cheeks

haggle and boys try to woo them playing on guitar

until you reach the wide expanse of Chowrasta

where people congregate on the benches

and talk about filthy local politics and their garden flower

 

In the morning, the town bobs up and down,

recover and disappears again in the mist

The Kanchenjung seem like a stately iceberg

that appear and vanish in thin air

While the verdant tea gardens roll in the hills in a gentle tryst

On a clear day with the erratic sun

blazing the town suddenly come alive,

all flushed like a comely young girl, blooming spring flower, unplucked, swirling as a feather, crisp

This sudden transformation of this frazzled old maid

reveals the innate delicateness of her youthful days

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Kolkata Collage

Posted by admin on March 16, 2015
CitiSights, OtherCities, OtherWorlds / No Comments

The Express click clacks into Howrah

on a nippy silver-grey morning.

Steel wheels squeal to a stop.

Flurry of activities off the track.

 

A torrent of humanity in the city by the Hooghly River.

Indeed this is the City of Joy

where beggars brandish their sores and shake off the winter.

 

The strong smell of beedi.

Vapour rising

from people huddled

around tea and food stalls.

Packed buses and battered trams

hurtling past old, crumbling buildings.

Half-naked people inside unused drains

Stray dogs, squatting pissers,

dark factory chimneys.

 

 

Calcutta, Kolkata…

like the interchangeable name,

the sights of the city change

from English grandeur

to Bengali geniality

with equal ease.

Waterloo Street, Jackson Lane, Elgin, Dalhousie Square

Dharmatala, Bowbazaar, Tollygunj, Belighata,Chowringhee.

Palatial mansions, British memorials, monuments.

The Royal Calcutta Club serving English cookies and afternoon tea.

They clamour for space

among brisk crowd, reckless traffic,

strikes, demonstrations,

sadhus, street hawkers,

handcarts drawn sometimes by horse

sometimes bare-chested men–a poverty striptease.

 

A forced but passionate mixture

of the East and West is Kolkata,

Where Bengali babus with tastes of

the English gentleman

complain about life in a dying city,

talk about Tagore, Marx,

the metropolitan problems—

they recall the heyday of the Raj,

and gulp down a rich pudding at Flury’s,

talking about Kolkata’s destitute and starving.

The indifferent human maze on the streets, lanes, buses, trams, the metro.

The various degrees of human degradation at Kalighat.

Blessed Teresa’s home for the hungry, the naked, the crippled, the blind.

The flesh-trading labyrinthine ghettos.

 

In Kolkata, a perfection-seeking youth

learns the bitter lesson

that life is not a textbook, all shimmery.

It is to learn from those

who find bits and pieces of happiness

amidst their destituteness, dispossession

pointlessness.

From a frail little granny wearing

a wrinkled sari, siting near a culvert

smiling, combing the dark tresses

of a little girl looking at passersby

with cool eagerness.

It is to take heart

from the fact that

there are lives in this city

who show how to squeeze

fleeting happiness

from their private misery.

(Citiwalks.com)

 

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Singapore Sentiments

Posted by admin on January 22, 2015
OtherCities, OtherWorlds / No Comments

Singapore by night

As we approached Singapore, passengers on board the SilkAir craned their heads to have a peek at the Lion City’s chic, scintillating skyline.

Having been in the air for nearly five hours negotiating our way through a sea of fluffy clouds, the orange of the setting sun, and then droning over lush green forests and vast flat terrain, the island’s bright lights and glitzy huddle of futuristic skyscrapers seemed like a mirage in the distant horizon. Like a gemstone sharp and finely cut out, the city shimmered in a rainbow of hues.

It was a slightly windy night as the plane encountered some turbulence while gliding over the city just before descent. And as it taxied in on the Changi International’s rain-soaked runway, I felt that, for the first time ever, I had landed in a truly global metropolis. A few minutes ago I had seen large ships and mercantile vessels trudge down the sea from my window-seat. The port is one of the world’s busiest, a Mr Know-all seated beside me had said.

Major airlines from all over the world were either parked in the hangar or taxing down the runway for takeoff. The ultra-modern terminal with its squeaky clean arrival hall was lined with bright duty-free shops, luxury stores, and an array of conveniences such as a free movie theater, an internet lounge, a gym, a swimming pool, foliage gardens and massage tables – all befitting a luxury hotel. Continue reading…

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