It was the time when puja vacation had just started. Though the Durga Puja had passed, the schools were still closed till Diwali. As a teacher, our training classes were going on. Having an off day from the hectic training schedule, I thought of catching up an old pal who had come to the city after half a decade.
Though he went away in haste after a work cropped up suddenly, I stayed put at the cafeteria making some notes. In the meanwhile, a group of foreigners entered and sat at the table beside me. As they say, some great conversations begin at the coffee table.
Acknowledging each other with smiles as we were sipping our coffees, I started the conversation. Got to know that they are from Canada and have come here on a community exchange programme. While talking to them, I felt as if I am the representative of my city for them. After exchanging pleasantries, I asked them how they liked my city “Kolkata”???? And oh!!! Why was I not surprised when they replied that we love Kolkata. “Aamra Kolkata ke Bhalobashi, except for the sultry weather even in the month of November”. I was amazed that they had learnt a few words of Bangla Bhasha so soon.
Giving them an insight into our culture, as well as getting a peek into their lives, I was pushed into a thought provoking process. Even in the 21st century, we are plagued by the necessities of living in Kolkata. They were amazed that the poor people are happy and satisfied with what they manage to earn, even though it is the bare minimum. They were also amazed that the poor people out here had no qualms against the government out here.
That is the great thing about Kolkata, I told them. There are people, who want to reach the zenith of success as well as those who are happy with what they have. This city accepts one and all with open arms, we live in unity here. Peace, love and a sense of belonging that is what I feel in my city. There is this unique medley of fast paced lifestyle as well as the old world charm which everyone experiences when they set their foot in this town. No matter what people say, Kolkata is a unique city tied to its roots yet embracing modernity.
The Canadians went on to tell me about the scenario in their country. They said if someone is unemployed then it is the duty of the government to get them a job if they are unable to. The three girls went on to say that they were here for some fifty days and had come to a large group of some twenty people. They then told me about the scenario in their country. They said that out there if someone below the poverty line is unable to get a job, then it is the duty of the government to get him one as well as they get an allowance from the government.
Whenever a great conversation happens the people involved lose track of time. And so it happened with us too. Jabbering away none of us knew when it was well past the sun down. Informing them about the famous Kali Puja pandals in the vicinity of the place where they were putting up, I invited them to visit the pandal opposite my house and do buzz me whenever they reach there. After this, I took leave and returned home.
Though we didn’t exchange any means to stay in contact with each other, I had an excellent experience that afternoon. A lesson learnt no doubt from these three young girls. They thought me how to fend for myself in a foreign nation all by themselves. As well as the most important thing that if you are self-confident, then you can do anything no matter how huge the obstacle is that has cropped up in our path.
Wishing that they succeed in whatever venture they take up in their respective lives as well as hoping to meet them again at some point in time in my life, I prayed for their well-being and wished that we connected somehow through the social media. Here’s to the city of Kolkata which has always showered love upon me and to all the people who visit this place as tourists. I can proudly say “Ami Kolkata, We Rule”. Cheers to Kolkata!!!