August 02, 2020
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Dilli Dur Ast

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Dilli Dur Ast
NO matter to which part of India one travels from Delhi, it always seems to be a different country. In Mumbai, they couldn't care less about secretaries and joint secretaries, they are too busy with the stock exchange. In the south where they address you as Ma at the market, it is a different culture. In Calcutta, while he is recording Question Time India for the bbc, Prannoy Roy is informed by the panel and the audience that they would rather watch the Indo-Pak cricket match and he has to hold up the recording for two hours. As for the Northeast,well, the less said the better and one has learnt not to wince as the Manipuris and the Khasis refer to the rest of the country as India.

So when I was leaving Delhi for Calcutta, I was not surprised when my maid said enviously: 'Good you are going to Calcutta, Pakistan will surely drop the atom bomb on this awful city.' In fact, I have been wondering lately if there is anyone who wholeheartedly loves Delhi.

Calcutta was a pleasant change. At Netaji Subhas Bose airport, we had a proper aero-bridge, as in Bombay, to save one walking to a bus and then the trudge to the arrival lounge. The city, of course, has a terrible air of decay along old familiar streets and bylanes and very little seems to have been done to save its heritage buildings, the demolition of the old Senate Hall being one of the most shocking civic tragedies. But go to the old shady streets of Ballygunje, its elegant buildings, some with traces of old-style architecture, and you feel nostalgic.

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