Saturday, December 8, 2012

Wednesday, 28 November 2012: Calcutta/Kolkata

I arrived in Calcutta again, after an absence of about 18 years.  India moves fast—even Calcutta moves fast despite the reputation of Bengalis (as Sampurna’s “bong” poem implies!).  Far fewer plumes of black exhaust, and far more buildings and overpasses being constructed these days, but the old crumbling grandeur persists.  Salt Lake still felt like a neighborhood, though, with the local market where at 7:30am we got crabs from the elusive crab man and his mysterious basket of crabs, not to mention freshly made jalebi from the Jolly Jalebi Joe. 

Mercifully, Wednesday was a bit of a break because of Guru Nanak’s Day.  Still, Scholastic would not keep me entirely idle.  I met my Scholastic connection, Debjani Banerji, who would prove to be a most able, amiable, affable, and taffyable guide over the next few days. I was taken to Seagull Books, which is a publisher, publishing school, and arts activist organization among other groovy things.  They were hosting One Nation Reading Together, an event whereby publishers donate books to worthy institutions and convey a pledge, and the children dutifully repeat the pledge, about the value of books.  This year’s pledge was written by Ruskin Bond.  I didn’t know quite what to expect with this appearance, but I ended up doing a modified set (sans guitar).  While some of the kids there had less English, things went well, and the adults had particularly good questions and comments.  Trust the Bengalis to dig nonsense!

Here is a link to the Seagull page, which has a blurb and some more photos from the event.

No comments: