Thursday, June 03, 2010
Fire in Calcutta
Su: From the frying pan to the fire??? Let's just hope it can't get much worse!!!
Ba: What are you talking about?
Su: Our 'state' of being :-)
Ra: With due respect, such notions need to be criticaly examined. For instance, why it was "alright" to have the people who were there so far, and what was so spectacularly superior in them? Second, as I learnt, much to my discomfiture, sitting in Calcutta (or elsewhere in India) one cannot have the remotest dea of what things are like in rural West Bengal, in particular the real face of the grassroots support, participation, membership and leadership of the TMC. Citizens can be justifiably proud of this.
Su: Of course, I can only see it for myself. The goons who live next door from where I live; all of whom have 'grassroot' membership! Who build a huge house and a garage in someone else's land and get away with it ... no amount of complaints to the police and the municipal authorities gets us anything!
I am a selfish common man, bothered about us in 'Calcutta'
And please don't get me wrong. It was not alright to have the people who were there so far, which doesn't mean the 'paribartan' that has come is a welcome change either!
Ra: The party's face in Calcutta may be as you say, and I do not doubt that, that's also what I can see, but it was a revelation to me that this in no way defines the party. So I am hopeful that the process of change that's taking place in the party will bode well for the future. But there is a huge gulf between Calcutta and the rest of the state; Calcutta is a mess, in a rut, ungovernable, thanks to the political culture established by the other, and simply mirrorred by all else. Being in the districts is distinctly cheering compared to living in Calcutta. And finally, whether one likes to hear this or not, Calcutta is a parasite, its doomed, its nice folk are likely to be done to death by bloodthirsty mobs.
Su: I hear a little justification there! As I said, I am a common man, and only bothered about the 'state' of our being! Which is Calcutta ... and I can only speak from my experience.
And if the change is a mirror of the already established political culture (I quote you here) then may be it's not a 'poribartan' after all. Its only a change of face!
Ru: Sometimes getting into the fire is better than stewing in the frying pan. I'm hoping this is one such time.
Su: We all are hoping for the same Ru. Don't forget I have suffered the worst of the left! I went to a Bengali medium school when English was taken away from the course!
I also happen to spend a little more time here. So ... let's hope the fire would make us all become purified!
Ra: Good metaphor, of purifying fire, agni pariksha, agni path etc etc. Everyone who has lived in Bengal in the last 40 years has had to live in fire. Su, no justifucation at all. There are no two ways, there is only one right way. But there are millions of dualities and conflicts in our apartheid, disparity-ridden society. Looking only at Calcutta - yes, those living here can only see what's there around them. But which Calcutta? Babu/bibi Calcutta? Jhupdi-bashi Calcutta? Muslim Calcutta? Dalit Calcutta? ...
CPM solidified lumpen raj in the state, done intentionally as a ruling strategy. Lumpen-ism is a feature of the city, like its air pollution, which affects all. Even the sushil "bhaw-dro" babu somaj has become highly lumpen in its make-up (just observe the civic sense of smart young things zipping around in their a/c cars on Calcutta's roads). The challenge is to oust the lumpenism. Even at this moment, there are more CPM lumpens in Calcutta then there are TMC lumpens. And the former are earning hundreds of crores for their lumpen party everyday.
I hope we can have a discussion, in which I can fill you in with a crash course in sociology/politics, while taking in your refined aesthetic sensibility, and come to a shared understanding and vision. More fundamentally, there is a profound sociological / political phenomenon happening in Bengal right now, for now connected with the TMC, but its something larger than that or any party. That will never be caught by the bhaw-bhaws or the wonderful, smert media. Once you discern that, you will also inevitably be filled with gentle hope.
Khoma korun didimoni, aar bhaat bokbo na, promise.
Uj: Su, I think Calcutta/Bengal woes have bottomed out in the last 3 decades. There is not much else that can go wrong. So in a situation like this, probably the worst we will see is the same ole ... let's pray for the best :-)
Vi: I could not resist ... The present communist government is getting it's just desserts. I hope the party of Lakshman Seth, Rabin Deb, Binoy Konar, Subhas Chakraborty and the bunch of the most organised violent and intolerant goons who ruled and laid waste an entire state is consigned to the funeral pyre, agni cheeta if you like. Good riddance, or should we actually keep your fingers crossed till the vampires are actually put back in their coffins.
Photo: William Vandivert, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images