Just back from India. Posting pages off my Calcutta Diary here, in short segments. Hope you read. Thank you.
Partha Banerjee
Brooklyn, New York
Calcutta Diary, 2016. Page 2. — Thanks to Western media, very few people in America and Europe know about this city’s incredibly rich cultural tradition. The air is filled with music, poetry, art, literature, dance, film and theater. And you don’t need to find it at concert halls, academies and festivals only. Every neighborhood, every household carries talented individuals. Men, women and children who crave for artistry. People save up from their paltry earnings to buy books, and then perhaps travel once a year, if they can.
Westerners know about France, Spain and Italy and their cultural heritage. Calcutta is, to them, a city of the destitute, only to be saved by Mother Teresa.
Last night, my sister organized a two-hour program at our home where neighbors came, sang songs, played the esraj and tabla, and recited Bengali poetry. I sang a Tagore song, and read from my memoir “Ghotikahini.” My 92-year-old father, recovering from a health crisis, enthusiastically sat through most of the program. He could not hear most of the performances, but his face glowed with happiness and pride.
CALCUTTA DIARY, 2016. Page 3. — It is unbelievable how the one percent here in India are building up on a new war game, with enthusiastic, highly profitable support from their media. The so-called Pakistani attack on Pathankot air base. Every newspaper and TV (the indian version of New York Times, CNN and Fox) are busy proving how anti-Pakistan, and pro-Indian military they are. And people are absolutely delighted that their long-held animosity against the “arch enemy” Pakistan, a country that of course had long history of harboring terrorists and military dictators, is once again validated, without ever questioning why in the world Pakistan would want another war now, unless there is provocation from CIA and the war industry.
Nobody even cares to know: both Hindus and Muslims are so blind and polarized. Yet, the Indian economy is exploding, with health care and education being two most corrupt, privatized businesses, and the rupee at an all-time low, nearly catching up on the Bangladesh currency. No discussion.
And yes, by the way, a low-caste, poor girl was gang raped by soldiers of this glorified Indian army when she made a mistake and got on a reserved army car in a passenger train. I am trying to understand the reasons behind such arrogantly flexed stupidity of Hindus, Muslims, communists and anti-politics majority here.
I have answers, but nobody has questions.
(To be continued)