The first thing I notice when I come to Kolkata from San Francisco is not the heat. Or the smog. But the noise. A survey a couple of years ago found that at 10 major crossings the horn count average per day was a whopping 107392 per day, that’s over 70 honks per minute. Cars and buses loudly flout No Horn signs around hospitals and schools.
Some drivers are honking because a pedestrian, or a cow is jaywalking, or another car is turning without a signal or just because.
Nostalgia today is no longer reserved for the disappearance of things we feel had been around forever. Or perhaps it’s our notion of forever that has shrunk - from 163 years for the telegramto 13 to 5. The MusicWorld store was not even a decade old.
There’s a word for it in English. Petrichor – the essence of rocks. But it just doesn’t do it for me. Call me a nostalgist but I still like the Hindi phrase saundhi mitti for that heady smell of the first fat drops of rain on summer-parched earth.
The telegram was 163 which I guess is a fine age to finally give up the ghost. The last telegram went out somewhere in India on Sunday July 15. Order No. 111-23/93/T-II (Pt. IV) from the government finally put the poor thing to its rest. A rather dry bureaucratic way to end a very colourful life....