A few days back, I realised exactly how much I love my city.
I was on a flight to Delhi. The plane had just taken off. For the first time in my life, I observed how Kolkata looks from a few hundred feet above the ground. And I felt an upsurge of affection for it- so strong, that it took me by surprise.
How delightfully unplanned Kolkata was! How magnificent the Ganga looked, even as a meandering white line! And it was MY city. It would miss me while I was away, I knew it would.
They say Bombay is far more modern. It's sassy and streetsmart. It's seen a lot of life. While poor little Kolkata still blushes at a celebrity crush, Bombay's gone and slept with the hottest guys without a twinge of guilt.
No offence to you Bombay, but even if I grew to love you madly, you'd never be more than second best.
I know that our city has more men who pee on the road than it has trees. I know that half my life has probably gone in waiting for the traffic to clear out. I know that Tollywood is still producing movies like 'Abelaye Garam Bhath' and 'Chirodini Tumi Je Aamar.'
In spite of all that, I'd always choose Kolkata over you.
Kolkata, I love you for your pulse. Your winter sunshine.
For giving birth to the word 'nyaka', which doesn't have a good enough equivalent in any other language.
For being a place where biriyani, puchkas and mishti doi taste equally good and are equally in demand.
At a time when cities are getting blown to bits, I worry about you awfully. I don't want you to become all stiff and businesslike. I don't want you to get battle-scarred and bloody.
I hope that for years to come, my grocer will continue reciting poetry to me. That Star Ananda will always have enough time to mourn over Saurav Ganguly and go ghost-busting in North Calcutta.
I like you just the way you are, and I never want you to get hurt. So please, please be safe.