Yesterday was the second time I used Terminal three to board an Air India flight to Kolkata connecting another flight from NY to Delhi. Last Sunday I arrived at the same terminal via an AI flight connecting a Delhi-London flight. This time around I was prepared for the completely carpeted floors, the duty free shop advertising the chance to win a Volkswagen Beetle with the purchase of two bottles Chivas Regal, perfumes by Chanel, make-up by Dior, wines, chocolates, etc. But I still wasn't prepared for the waiting lounge with Haagen Daz (*snort*) parlours, various posh type eateries and clothes and accessories shop that I've never heard of, and (wait for it) a Delhi Daredevils Sports Bar. I'm sorry I can't describe THAT: you'll have to see it to believe it. Then I spotted the vending machines: just like in bideshi sitcoms and movies. You feed money punch in the code and your bottle of beer (or Tropicana apple juice: highly overpriced at that) rolls down. Well my bourgeois instincts kicked in and I was able to coax a certain vending machine to accept my 50 rupee note and cough out a juice (priced 22). And then it promptly stole 18 bucks, returning insufficient change. That's capitalism for you.
40,000 people have been displaced due to the CWG. And probably more. A friend asked what's wrong with the CWG: it is, after all, the greatest sporting event in the country in more than two decades. This is a sort of attempt at an answer:
A city where Taimoornagar slums exist, the Terminal 3 and the CWG are abominations. According to Calcutta newspapers more than three thousand beggars (of Bengali origins) have been sent back to the state (of WB). All the dogs in, around and near the venues have been dumped at various NGOs (notably FRIENDICOES) who're staggering with thousands of new mouths to feed. Hoardings and bamboo bushes have been planted around the slums which couldn't be demolished to hide them from view.
In a country where a woman has to walk 5 kilometers to the nearest hospital after the onset of labour (Baramulla), where a fifteen year old Muslim girl has to drop out school because powers that be in the village do not want her to continue and threaten her with acid bulbs everytime she steps out of her house (Nandigram), where a man can get away with kicking a teenage beggar girl repeatedly in her abdomen with his shiny leather shoes (Howrah station), where a woman is arrested and force fed through her nose for following Gandhian methods of protesting against the brutality unleashed on her people more than half a century ago, the CWG with all its glitter is something we cannot be complacent about.
Phew! When did this turn into such a righteous rant on CWG? I meant to write about other things. Like my escalating carbon foot print. Between last Sunday and this Monday I would have been on a plane thrice, back and forth b/w Dilli and Cal.
Anywho, no denying that it's lovely to be on a plane at night. A friend had said Dilli looks gorgeous but Kolkata looks like village with a few blinking lights. Well, I can testify that that is not true. Delhi is like huge megapolis: glittering lights for miles and fireworks (probably over some CWG venue). But Kolkata, oh! It was like a very small, very intricately woven carpet. With delicate filigrees of golden capillaries (as opposed to the wide arteries of Dilli) in no discernible pattern: like some inscrutable divine plan! The jumble of tiny, crooked roads and the lights of houses, cars was sometimes obscured by thick, rolling, dark clouds which seemed, as we flew above them, to be illuminated from within. It was like watching a Nat Geo programme on thunderclouds which are sometimes illumined from within by lightening bursts! Bee-you-tee-fool, in short.
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