I usually like to imagine the cities I have been to as ladies. Each a woman with sensuous appeal that attracts and repels but eventually entangles your heart. Not Kolkata however. Calling it a woman will be like calling Margaret Thatcher sexy. Kolkata is anything but a woman. It is a brawler. A shark which will eat you alive without blinking an eyelid. Rough, tough and harsh. You will do well to stay clear of its temper. Blending in will be the only way to stay alive. Admittedly, it will be difficult for anyone born in a color other than a shade of brown.
Of course, that wasn’t a problem for me. With Indian blood cursing through my veins albeit 2 generations diluted, I was as local as you can get. The shark that is Kolkata never knew I was there. I paved the streets and sat in its taxis without rousing any attention. That was until I opened my mouth. Because in my accent, lay the seeds that blew my camouflage. The shark smelled blood and there was no escape. Swim as I may, Kolkata takes no prisoners. I was eaten.
I found myself in a belly full of confusion and chaos. There I contemplated my demise. With clarity only Buddhist monks in Tibet experience, one distinctive thought bubbled to the surface. Look at this mess screamed my mind. I looked. And found it beautiful…
She is a woman after all.