Writing in the Telegraph, Amit Chaudhuri raises the question about Calcutta that is perhaps as relevant to Delhi, or, indeed any other urban centre where haphazard "development" has allowed "the tragedy of an irreversible change to take place without even noticing it; to seamlessly become a recent, crowded suburb."
But before addressing that, he wonders that if every Bengali bourgeois’ destiny is to be a prabasi, or an expatriate, "what is going right in Calcutta to make that expatriation work, for that destiny to be realized in an increasingly precarious free-market workplace?"
And what’s going right here to some extent, but against the odds it would seem, is secondary education for the middle classes. However depleted the resources of this city, something is working if we’re still able to produce a steady flow outward of skilled expatriates, from academics to doctors to professionals in the spheres of software programming and other segments of the service sector. Something is going right, in this strange auto-pilot-like manner, and it would be good to know what it is. It manifests itself peculiarly from time to time, though we may not notice it — for instance, the immense discipline that goes into the Pujas, from the ingenuity and judgment that create the pandals, to the epic-scale traffic-and- human management, largely unobtrusively achieved. Why this sort of orchestration and care don’t inform our lives more often, when, seemingly, they’re perfectly capable of doing so, is a puzzle...
Read the full article at the Telegraph: The City Vanishes