Monday, May 07, 2007

KOLKATA - SIGHTS & SOUNDS




The last time I’d been to Kolkata, I’d seen the majesty of the city. This time round though, I saw what I have always seen in Kolkata, but for the first time I actually noticed it. A bid to escape the monotony of sitting at home brought me to some of the more frequented & crowded pockets of Kolkata. The entire atmosphere was overwhelming. Every inch of available space is usurped for one commercial purpose or another. Like Mumbai, the “criminally” empty spaces here are dotted with filthy eateries and stalls after stalls of stolen/cheap quality wares – toys, plastics, clothes etc (calling them stalls is an exaggeration, since they’re nothing more than a piece of cloth on the floor, wares displayed on it and a sheet of tarpaulin on the head to protect the vendor from sun and rain.) Kolkata is a sea of daily wage workers, carrying on their heads / carts virtually everything from coal to cement to underwear!!! In spite of the myriad range of shops around, it is extremely painful to locate cyber cafes, pharmacies & phone booths, for which I walk long and far without much success. It surprises me to see girls barely 5 years old manning cigarette & paan shops. The endless surge of laborers find succor on the footpaths which provides them with food and the tiniest of resting places. For them, it’s not important whether the spot is clean or not, whether there is the possibility of a hundred people walking over you. What is important is that there is a space, and it must be utilized well.

It becomes an art to dodge people on the narrow footpaths crowded with stalls and hordes of people. Worse still is avoiding contact with people with heavy carts, cars, cycles, rickshaws, cows, among others, all on a single two-way traffic road 20 feet wide! In spite of all the chaos, people or vehicles rarely ever bang into each other, such is the efficiency (if you could call it that) of the pedestrian system. The same could be said about the serpentine driving manners of the city traffic. The traffic is among the worst in the country, but what makes it worse is the worm in every motorist’s head that it is their moral duty to blare the horn incessantly. You just realize how loud EVERYTHING is. It’s like being forced to stick your ears to a high-power loudspeaker – it’s loud and there’s nothing you can do to avoid it. The deafening sound of the traffic is enough to drive anyone insane & give them a splitting headache, but the locals are accustomed to it & walk on nonchalantly. Kolkata is a city of sensory overload – too many sounds, sights, smells and sensations. The sound of the siren of an ambulance is omnipresent and ever audible. The aroma of fish, pakodas and kababs, plus the stench of the sewage. The humidity rise to the point of intolerability. In all this, you soothe your nerves with chai in clay pots and the ever-famous Kolkata rolls & soda-shikanji.

Again and again, I find my senses assaulted in the most brutal of ways. Voices & hands are beckoning me to unbelievable deals. The buildings are majestic, relics of the colonial era; utterly neglected and the paint on the façade that has peeled off ages ago has never been relinquished since. Traces of past grandeur are all that remains – an illusion. The reality stinks as bad as the repulsive odor of urine that permeates almost all the buildings, as if every pore in the walls were bleeding urine. Offices and shops have been constructed upon existing structures. I see one such office with cubicles so tiny that I ponder whether the employees would die of suffocation or claustrophobia!!!! The boss’s office door has a beam of wood passing before it in such a way that anyone who desires to see the boss has to bend and bow, literally. I have my doubts that the beam had been placed by some sadistic ex-boss who desired to see his subservients bow before him. Later, I am told that that is not the case. The beam was actually one of the main supporting foundations of the building eons ago. Once they reconfigured the building to accommodate more businesses, this beam came in between but they couldn’t remove it, lest the whole building come crashing down. I am amused by the story!

In most of merchant India of yore, appearances aren’t all that important and it is deemed OK to conduct businesses in shady alcoves & unattractive offices. The merchants are always draped in formal clothes, albeit very old fashioned and often unwashed or stained forever by the air of the city, with gold chains peeping out innocently through shirt buttons left open deliberately – to beat the heat & to display chest hair. Garbage is everywhere, and yet, ironically, mere meters away from all this filth & grime is located the All India Institute of Hygiene & Public Health, itself as shabby & filth laden as the BurraBazaar. The heat of the day has reduced me to a bumbling dehydrated idiot, and it just gets crueler with each passing day. It’s a bath in sweat after a morning bath and the done-to-death A/C shopping malls begins to sound like a good idea. It is easier to paste a smile on your face all day long like an idiot in Bangalore, but the sheer heat of Kolkata wipes it off your face! Increasing heat means more A/C’s, which consequently mean more CFC’s and even more heat – a vicious cycle from which it seems too late to get out of. Come evening and mosquitoes the size of dragonflies are eating me alive. I buy a really good looking imitation watch for a hundred bucks & immediately regret it as the watch literally comes apart in my hands, the battery chokes to death & the dials move at will or when I tilt the watch a bit!!!! It has been put to proper health now, but as to how long it will last, your guess is as good as mine.

The public transport system of every town and city has a story of its own to relate. Kolkata runs on the archaic support beam of its buses, carriers and rickshaws. Travel by the groaning, dark & dingy buses makes me thank the efficient & clean bus system in Bangalore. Autos, cabs and private vehicles offering transport on shared basis are in abundance and offer very reasonable rates for a good distance. Of course, maximum is the norm here, and autos plying with 8 passengers when it’s meant only for 4 are a common sight. The number of passengers usually depends on how generous or greedy the driver is feeling on the given day. All Govt. cabs here are Ambassadors – an ambassador invasion, to say the least. But what impressed me the most about Kolkata was its underground Metro service – the first in the country, and it shows in the falling paint of the coaches. Still, the stations are clean (apart from the inevitable paan stains) and the service very efficient, though very loud (as with everything else here) and ruling out any possibility of conversation. My friend & I stare blankly at each other for the duration of the journey…

There’s a way in which every form of transport in Kolkata swerves uncontrollably from side to side, demanding a super sense of athletic balancing act from the passengers. Conversations of cricket are adrift everywhere, given the World Cup frenzy. In spite of that, children come out in the evenings to play football. Mind you, not cricket but football, the craze here. A group of girls are collecting donations for the Nandigram victims. The insincere smiles on their faces plant a doubt that the money collected is not going to be put to good use. Dwarfs. Eunuchs. Street barbers. Barbers flirting with the eunuchs. Truckfulls of Trinamool Congress cadres (Mamata Banerjee’s party). People playing cards outside what in the morning had been a fish market. The stench lingers on but most people are accustomed to it. In most other towns or cities, buying fish, if at all, is a morning affair, but the Kolkata fishes are not bound by time. They slither into the buyer’s bag anytime of the day – the staple diet for most inhabitants and akin to shopping for your daily aloo, doodh and other veggies. An entire street is dedicated to people selling only egg noodles, and there are innumerable stifled and openly displayed yawns. Scores of television, phone and electricity cables decorate the skyline. Blatant white faced lies are dished out to further businesses. Mother & children ravage the non-existent contents of their plate – there’s so little for some to eat that an empty plate & a full one look the same. It is a very disturbing sight. In the massive juggernaut of the crowd, they were just three souls groveling at our feet…

I notice a unique system of buying vegetables online – literally!!!!! The flat owner lowers a bag on a nylon line till the ground where the vegetable vendor sits. The exchange of money for vegetables takes place through this online bag. I wondered whether this was because people were lazy to come down for the vegetables or whether it was something with casteism as I had read in a book recently. Fortunately, a friend assures its plain laziness. Meanwhile, the sunlight plays gently with the silvery surface of the lake. The two man made ponds outside the house are frequented by boys, men and women on a daily basis. It’s a free-for-all instant heat-beater! The women stay close to shore and bathe completely clothed. The men folk have no qualms about undressing and dive right in. The boys don’t know how to swim yet, so they improvise. They collect empty plastic bottles, thermocol blocks and make their personal floaters out of it. Sheer glee, noise and the pleasant splashing follows. The constant exercise has given the boys a well toned body and an enviable stamina. Unfortunately, as a result of their daily ablutions & clothes washing at the ponds, the water has turned a murky green brown.

It was both amusing and disturbing to come back to Kolkata, and for many reasons. The thought struck me like a sledgehammer. Why do most young Chinese in Kolkata find participating in Chinese New Year celebrations a waste of time? The few times that I’ve been here at that time of year, the young crowd that I met had absolutely no interest in New Year festivities. When probed, they scowled that they’d rather spend that time in a pub guzzling down beer or in a disc, dancing the night away. They actually sneer at the non-Chinks who gather out of curiosity to witness the world famous dragon dance, as I had. What’s wrong with a slice of your own culture? Spending time with your own family? And what is wrong with someone else admiring what is yours? If one cannot respect what they have, at least another can. Does every celebration have to have drinks and dance? I don’t think so. Unless there is respect for one’s own culture, there can be no celebration without a tinge of guilt…

Karnataka is so much better. I talk not only of Bangalore, but also of the villages and smaller towns which I’ve had the fortune to travel to for Dental Community camps and or personal trips. Would you believe me if I told you that the slums in Karnataka are cleaner than the city of Kolkata? Than most North Indian cities? Kolkata seems just like one big slum, and a dirty one at that. Open lakes and canals have been overrun by some Brazilian plant, rendering the water & sludge underneath invisible to the naked eye and creating a perfect death trap. There is an all pervading smell in the atmosphere that one can’t really explain. It’s not those of what a coastal city smell is made of. Flies and dogs hover around the mounds of trash, and among this are brought up the children of tomorrow – filth ridden but astonishingly resistant to most diseases. Obviously, something is very wrong with the civic sense of the people and the responsibilities of the Municipal corporations. What appalls me is the irresponsible habit of littering any & everywhere by people- even the educated ones. The Municipal Corporation comes later, but its first the responsibility of the public to maintain cleanliness. People here aren’t as courteous and the number of smiles on their faces are fewer and often forced ones. However, my previous image of Kolkata changed tremendously on this visit. No way is it a lazy, laid back city. There’s activity enough to give Mumbai a run for its money! Just before leaving the city, I try to lunch at a popular Chinese restaurant, but get there way past lunch hour. So I walk a bit, and reach another favorite – Sabir. The food there has to be savored to know why I love it so much. In all the grime, there are still a few saving graces.

There are, of course, more glamorous & cleaner parts of Kolkata. The upcoming New Kolkata is going to be a posh, well-planned extension with hopefully much lesser traffic congestion and more green blocks. That is the rosy picture of tomorrow’s Kolkata, but what I described here so far is the ground reality of most of today’s Kolkata, the real face of the city’s underbelly. There are flashes of optimism here and there. Just minutes away from BurraBazaar stand beautiful Victorian buildings, and these are well maintained, mainly since they’ve been taken over by privatized banks for their offices. The high ceilings, sturdy infrastructure, predominant stone & iron skeleton and unsurpassable beauty are some common features in these goliaths. You’d be excused if for a moment you felt you’d been transported into the glorious past. There are pockets of Kolkata where the roads are wide, clean and very well maintained. It’s like another city altogether!!!! This is what I’ve seen and it may differ from the other faces of Kolkata, but this is my account of the city.

98 comments:

  1. Chang u sing really well. All the best for Indian Idol! :)

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  2. Hi Mieyang,
    saw u on Indian Idol, am absolutely impressed. dunno wen u gonna read this, but whenever u do just leave me a scrap at my orkut page or mail me at mylo666@gmail.com

    love
    Mylo

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  3. Dear Meiyang

    We've seen you on TV on Indian Idol. You're fabulous! All of us Marathi folk in Melbourne, Australia are rooting for you totally. Your voice is great and there's a very earnest, sincere and easy quality to your singing. Give it your best shot, you're star material. Break a leg!

    Love from your fans in Melbourne

    P.S - And now we know that you write beautifully and like photography too!

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  4. I really enjoyed reading your blog...the way you've described the places you've been to..I felt like I was actually there...you have a gift!

    speaking of gifts...if i'm not mistaken I saw you on Indian Idol...and absolutely loved your voice...I really hope you go far in the competition :)

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  5. Hey Meiyang,

    Nice blog and I watched your performance on Indian Idol. Keep up the good work

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  6. hey..dude i think you should write a book...u just keep gettin better...but i tell u...i would love to see how biks defends kal..i bet its goin to be loads of action and fun ;)

    happy writing

    kshitij

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  7. dude, you have a good voice.you write good. best of luck for your idol journey. ...and nice travelogues !

    cheers..

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  8. I saw you on Indian Idol (on a downloaded clip since I live in Singapore w/o SET TV) and I was thoroughly impressed. May success come to you sooner than later. God bless.

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  9. Hey MeiYang,

    No....dont bother straining your knees...you dont know me :-)
    ok so by now u must be thinkin I am some whinie FAN who is tryin to get ur attention.
    NO I am not tat either as I can neither hang upside down from a ceiling nor rotate at a speed of approx 1000 rpm...(Just like fans do ;-) )
    Well lemme introduce myself as by now u must be neck deep with thoughts bout tis girl who has invaded ur territory....ur BLOG
    Im just person who heard ur voice on TV and was impressed....then by chance got to ur blog book and was MORE impressed!!
    Yes, as a matter of fact I came to know bout ur existence only thru II3....n thank my lucky stars for tat only episod of II3 I saw..
    I've read most of ur blogs n lemme tell u doc u have a flair with words....ever thought bout writin columns in newspapers???
    I wont write much as I do not know whether ul even get to read tis comment or mail or watever it is.
    Writin on orkut would mean a thousand pryin noses get to know bout me n am not interested in whole and sundry..
    I just pray tat not many read tis comment too.. :-)
    Wel one last thing...no second last..
    I read ur turmoiled poetry (22nd Jan wala) n was touched by the grief n lonliness in it...have tried n revised it to make it look a lill more optimistic....Sorry for tat but had to do it.
    I will keep it to myself for now but would be happy to send it across if ud wanna read it.
    and now the last thing....
    All The Beast Doc...(u may read tis comment after winning but just in case :-))

    Chow!!
    Pearl.

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  10. hi cutie...i saw u on indian idol tonite..ur singing is absolutly fab...if i wer in india i wud hav definitly voted for u...
    ur jus awsumm!!keep goin!!

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  11. hi stranger!got to your blog through one of your communities...just out of curiosity..you write really well...reasonable and sensitive..liked your profile...you got substance here :)

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  12. Umm..
    Its...simply a combination of professional writing and puttin ur one liners n stuff n d middle..!
    damn gud seriously..
    u cn describe stuff really well..

    tho i've been to Calcutta..(i'd use d ol spellin cos thats wht it was used to call wen i went dere..)
    i mean i was lik really small bt i still remember so much..so i cn feel al u wrote..d crowds..n everythin..
    tho i dunno if it has changed now.. :p

    bt yeah u r really gud..

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  13. Hello Meiyang,

    You are not only a FANTASTIC singer, but also a GREAT writer.

    wishing you all the best for Indian Idol and I would love to see you in the finals together with Emon Chatterjee.

    Best wishes from Charla Manohar from The Netherlands.

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  14. Hmmm....I'm from Calcutta, and I can't help but have to agree with most of your descriptions. Even then it somehow is uneasy for me.....to accept that you are portraying one slice of the reality. I'm not talking of the Malls and promised smooth traffic, but I've a feeling you needed some true blue Kolkattan/Calcuttan friends to guide you through....not only the underbelly, but the heart of the city.

    It seems you missed the beat....and I'm not blaming you here, but blaming the luck of the city (if I'm allowed to conceive it as an entity, that is....). It deserves more....

    Anyway, all the best for the Idol.

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  15. Hi Meiyang,

    All the best for the idol! You have a great voice.

    I am from Kolkata, and I liked your post on the city. Yes, it is a very congested city - with only 7% surface area as roads, and a part of the densest state in India (I think it is thrice as dense as Karnataka). But you need to know places where you can hang out and have a great time.

    We swear by the great chinese food at Tangra. Going home in July.

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  16. If you're the same Meiyang Chang from Indian Idol 3 - then I hope you win!!! :)

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  17. Your performances at Indian Idol have been awesome. You can can count on my votes. Way to go. There's been a lot of discussions about you at the Sepia Mutiny blog...though I felt most of the comments were heavily one-sided.
    Here's the link : http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/004482.html#comments
    What are your views on the discrimination or racial slurs/comments made towards Indians of chinese origin? If you read the comments, there's this obnoxious OSN guy who is so full of hate. I know that people with mongoloid features get taunted as 'chinks' etc. but do most people of your community feel this way?

    I think you have a great chance of winning Indian Idol. Lage raho!

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  18. I completely relate to this .. I have lived in Pune for a avery very long time. And whenever I go back home to Kolkata I feel the same thing. There is so less development all these years. About the Chinese New Years .. I am non-Chinese I am benagli and you would be surprised how people living in Kolkata would love to ignore it. Its sad how people love to ignore their own traditions. So many Bongs take pride in talking in English at home and not teaching their kids Bengali

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  19. Best of luck on Idol!!!!

    Your Fan,
    Navin

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  20. Prior to seeing your Blogs, I was just a fan of your singing but you can write pal!

    Ah! I wish they had put in some voting system for Pakistan as well, would have totally voted for you dude.

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  21. hey meiyang ... u r a complete freak....i read all ur posted blogs n its amazin mannnnn....
    u luv travelling....so do i....wonder wer else u havent been??? considering 2 visit andamans...????

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  22. I know a comment from a stranger would probably totally de-personalise your much worked on blog, but I couldn't resist tellin' you that I reeeely appreciate the way you write. Its honest. its dry and heartfelt at the same time.
    Hats off Chang.
    Good luck with Indian Idol!

    the Exam Girl.
    (r'ber? nah! dont think so!)

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  23. Hi meiyang,
    I love your photography. I have been watching you on Indian Idol, and admire how deftly you deal with the ignorance of some Indians.

    I live in Florida (USA) and my whole family is hoping that you will win!!

    Good luck
    Sidra Ahmed

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  24. been 2 kolkata many times, couldnt have put it better myself

    agree wid ur perspective of the city

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  25. Oh My God!

    I can't believe I landed up on your blog, Chang. Firstly, let me tell you how I landed up here. I made a post on my own blog about Indian Idol 3. Then I searched Google to see where the post was figuring and through the search results, I found the link to your blogger page. And am I thrilled or what?!

    I think you're supercool and you're an amazing singer. At the time of this comment, you're already into the gala rounds and I'm sure you're gonna win it and I will vote for you. You always seemed cool but I never expected you to be such an avid blogger. I've seen all of your blogs that is the one with pictures and the cartoon ones too and they're amazing. The best part is that we've got a very similar choice of music. You like Coldplay too and I haven't seen many Indians liking them. And Silk Route too. I just can't explain how lucky I feel. And I so wish I could know you more.

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  26. I have become sort of a fan of yours after watching Indian Idol. Its strange because I was not a fan of any one apart from Kishore Kumar .. he he So you can take that as a compliment. And also I never leave comments on Blogs or talked to strangers online .. But after having seen you on TV for such a long time I think the stranger thing doesnt apply any more ..
    Well Here is wishing you that you win this contest and you do great in life ..

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  27. hey meiyang,

    reading all your posts (skimming through some really looooong ones) was a joy! loved the pics and i gotta say... duuuude you are sooo adorkable and i say this with the utmost respect with no intentions of offending you... reading some of your posts made me feel a bit intimidated but you never cease to surprise me with each entry...
    looking forward to your next blog entry... good luck with everything!

    - farah

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  28. Hey Meiyang - Came to your blog by way of your recent fame on Indian Idol. I really enjoyed reading this entry. Having never been to Kolkata, this certainly paints a picture in my mind of the city. I think I've seen pictures as well - The Namesake showed a part of Kolkata, I think - but your words are good enough to not need to look at a picture.

    I had so many thoughts while reading your entry, I don't know what to say. It's interesting the point you make about young Chinese people in Kolkata not embracing their culture. I live in the US and I see a lot of that here in youth and Indian culture. It's pretty sad to see. Sometimes makes you wonder if the culture won't just die out one day. But only thing you can do is remain optimistic right? And try to keep it alive through your own actions?

    I could go on but it's late here (4am!) and I should really sleep. I will definitely be around to check out your other entries. Hope you keep writing!

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  29. Chang... you are so correct about Kolkata. Being from that city, I have seen the changes. Nowadays whenever i visit (every 2-3 years), I feel i have stepped back intime instead of going forward. NO MATTER what, it gives me nostalgia... :)

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  30. Hey Meiyang......your are not just a good singer but a very talented writer....I feel bad as I can't vote for you as I am an NRI....but I wish you all the best. God Bless

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  31. Hey the blog on Kolkata's real picture is indeed well written. Seemed like I was myself roaming around Kolkata's streets while reading this blog.
    Great job,Meiyang...

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  32. a very fascinating entry - thank you for sharing it :o) you've brought the colours (and smells!) of kolkata alive... sadly, i'm completely unacquainted with most of india :o(

    lovely pics too - did you take them?

    :o)

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  33. hey Meiyang,
    u r amazing! the writing is so picturesque that i felt as if i'm roaming aroud Kolkata in person!
    u can consider writing as an alternate career...Kudos!

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  34. hey!! dyu still find enuf time 2 blog??? i thought u got busy wid indian idol - 3

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  35. Meiyang:

    Great piece.....i love the passion with which you write about Kolkata and Bangalore! Delhi suffers from some chronic problems too. I just visited home after three years (i am currently in the US) and though the city has a better public transport plus a zillion fly-overs and clover leaves, the dust remains constant! Overwhelming indeed.....trust me, i have had similar thoughts. i love Bangalore though!! even though i was born in Amritsar and lived through a good chunk of my higher education in New Delhi, Bangalore is where i really grew!! The first city i explored on my own.....the great eateries, the fun of PhD life in IISc and countless ice-creams at Corner House :))

    I chanced upon your blog on reading about your Indian Idol performance on the web.....but i am thrilled to say that i have discovered a treasure of art that goes beyond just that! Your writings and cartoons are a real treat!! Will kepp coming back for more!

    regards and repect!
    musical.

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  36. this account refreshed my memories of my four-day visit to kolkata in may....95% humidity, 38 degrees(and i come from sikkim :P). i was excited to see the howrah bridge and the eden gardens...never before had i stepped inside a shopping mall....but at the same time i was mortified to see the condition of the victorian buildings, the aquarium...and i almost jumped out of my skin when approached by a few eunuchs!!still,the city has its own charm but then again, home is where the heart is. as my friend put it nonchalantly,"calcutta se dushmani nahin par gangtok se lagaav hai."

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  37. Hi Meiyang,

    I don't know if you check this anymore, but a simple google search (now that you're famous) brought me to your blog. I just wanted to say your writing is inspring-I wish I could write like you and that aap dil se gaate ho (or at least that's how it comes across)-I wish I could sing like you! Wishing you all the best with Indian Idol and in life. :)

    Ambika (USA)

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  38. hey, u can't be so hard on the city!!! its not " a very big slum" or anything like that.........yes the city is dirty, but then there are a lot of cleaner areas, apart from the "Salt Lake" region..........I've grown up in south Cal--Lake Gardens, and it is one of the cleanest and the most beautiful parts of the city............btw heard you singing in Indian Idol and u're gud.....All the Best!!!

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  39. HI MEIYANG ... THESE ARE SOME REALLY GOOD PICTURES 'N' EVEN UR CARTOONS R FABULOUS ... EVEN U SING TOOOO GOOD !!!! HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE ???? HOW CAN A PERSON BE SOOOO MULTI - TALENTED !!! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK ...


    WE ALL LUV UUU....

    FROM AASHIMA

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  40. hey,hi.....i was just checkin' the pronounciation of 'soliloques' on the webster online dictionary wen i realized tht the word doesnt exist n tht the plural form of soliloquy is not soliloques..it suggested the following words n i request u to plz check them n make the necessary correction in the header of ur blogs 1. soliloquies
    2. soliloquise
    3. soliloquize

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  41. Hey Meiyang,lovely blog!!I just can't stop reading enough..I have never been to Kolkata,but your blog really helped me know how Kolkata feels like..I even have a picture of Kol from your blog!!Buying vegetables online-Oh my god!!Hilarious!!:-)Wow!!You are really very expressive,I must say!!Reading your blogs makes me feel very happy and pleasant!!:-)Waiting for more of your blogs!

    Btw,All the very best for II3.:-)

    Keep Rocking!!!!

    Best wishes,
    Shree

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  42. nice writing. i was just wondering if u were the one from Indian Idol. 'cuz u look awefully familiar like him. =]

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  43. Chang..you rock..the blog is too amazing..equally you are rockingn Indian Idol..keep it up

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  44. really loved your description of the city...i was there with two friends who were Americans and i was curious to get their perspective on things. I myself have a love-hate relationship with the city...absolutely love the food, hate the streets,love the billboards,hate the crowd...love the trams and cab rides on red road..hate all other forms of public transport (except maybe the metro...which is something to be proud of..comparable to the ones i have seen in new york and washington dc...they say the london tube is not any better)....their opinion on the city somewhat matched yours...the strong sense of contrast. And if those pics in your post are any indication (assuming they are self shot)...i am glad u indeed saw some beauty in the juggernaut that is Kolkata.
    [my blog: www.neindia.wordpress.com
    www.racionel.blogspot.com

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  45. Bumped on your blog and surpirsingly you have lot more concerns on things that happens around you in our society than many others. Will check often. But btw its almost two months you posted a new topic. Keep writing.

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  46. Meiyang,

    I have just gone through your blog
    ( http://buddhasoliloques.blogspot.com/2007/05/kolkata-sights-sounds.html ) and I find that you have mostly roamed around the Burra Bazar and Chandney Chowk area so your observation is apparently correct, these are among the few places in Kolkata that would support your observation correctly but what I find from your statement that does not clearly reflect the surrounding real Kolkata! Though most of places of Kolkata are crowded due to the least percentage of roads but the real Kolkata is definitely not the same that you have described in your blog.

    I guess your last visit to Kolkata (Calcutta) was probably for few hours or hardly for a day. The last line of your blog states, "This is what I�ve seen and it may differ from the other faces of Kolkata, but this is my account of the city." So if you ever revisit Kolkata then try to spend more time to see Kolkata entirely. I am sure you will then change your interpretation about Kolkata from you existing understanding. Try Visit North and South Kolkata during Durga Puja and during the winter.

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  47. My mind says,"Dont set foot in that city-ever!".My heart, struck by wanderlust,says"One city you'll never be fortunate enough(maybe you'd say unfortunate enough),to visit in this lifetime.Hailing from Bangalore myself i know what you mean when you say we can paste a smile on our faces like gaping idiots all day long.the feeling of nostalgia grips my senses tightly and refuses to let go as i sit here in a dingy apartment in Mumbai(I've come so far to 'have a good time' during my hols)looking out of the window-my mind racing..thinking of the goings on in the world outside this little window which separates me from the beautiful unexplored world beyond my range of vision..the rain gods simply HATE ME...My brain says"Well...atleast you're not in Kolkata with the smell of urine permeating the air,with the red paan stains adorning the dirty roads with slime-icing,with all the ghastly sights and smells polluting your senses",my heart says"Sigh...I wish i were Meiyang Chang!"

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  48. You have no idea as to the number of mistakes i made during the course of sending this comment and the number of attempts made before i finally managed to get it across!

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  49. Hey Chang,

    nice blog.

    love the pics!!

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  50. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  51. stumbled upon your blog and enjoyed reading of your travels.

    north india's bane is its utterly chaotic filth.banglore (should be saying bengaluru now?)is still one of the saner metros.

    well your stuff made some good reading :)

    chandni

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  52. Hey Meiyang,

    Do read the following and please do tell her to mind her language next time.

    http://www.jaagobharat.com/bharat/blog/Entries/2007/8/18_Yeh_Chingu_Mingu_Kya_hai.html

    Sorry could not find any other way to reach you.

    best of luck!

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  53. hey chang......i just seen indian idol results....and u got out!!!
    AM REALLY REALLY UPSET! U ARE A TERRIFIC SINGER AND I HAD TO TELL U DAT! CAME ACROSS UR BLOG SO THOT I SHUD TELL U.......HOPE U BECOME A GREAT SINGER AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU WITH A SUCCESSFUL AND HAPPY LIFE.
    riddhi!!

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  54. Oh my god!
    Meiyang Chang on a blog! You don't stop impressing me, seriously! A dentist, a cartoonist, a writer, a singer, a photographer... That itself is more than anyone could hope for... I've seen you haven't mentioned Indian idol even once, but i know thats because you haven't written for long, probably after the GALAs began. We'd like to here about that soon! Anyway... here's from a BIG BIG fan-- HATS OFF! (Btw, I'd love to hear from you...)

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  55. love the way you put your thoughts.. and the minute details

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  56. i guess no one has ever written so brilliantly about Kolkata. Every time i land there i feel the same.

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  57. Dear Meiyang,

    You voted out on Indian Idol earlier tonight was just wrong! It's a very tough call since the top 5, even the top 10 are all so immensely talented. And for me, you've always rocked! Right from your audition (loved the way your voice sounded - so fresh and soothing!), you became my favorite including almost every other girl/woman who was watching! From Shabana Azmi to Alisha and Mini, none were spared from your magic :)

    You have something very special in your entire personality and voice, and you know it too, don't you by now? :)

    Good luck and best wishes to you, and hope you come back to blogging whenever you can! In between, I hope you get really busy getting famous and offered tons of work so that we can see more of you! Yes, fans are a selfish, but loving lot :)

    Wishing for you everything that you wish for, and then some more!

    Sumita

    p.s. Why was everyone on Indian Idol addressing you by your last name?!

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  58. Huh, looks like calcutta left you stunned? Don't worry, happened to me when I first visited the place. The first time I went around the city I felt nauseated and threw up.I found that sabji-wala thing to be quite amusing, how lazy can people get? :O) Anyway just wanted to tell you that I really like your blog, god your writing skills are mind blowing. Care to share the secret behind the amazing skills?

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  59. Reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllly Sad for you .. I watched Indian Idol till we had to move to this new house. Now we do not have Dish Network (Sadly here it is not like India sob sob sob ) and the next thing I know is that you are voted out .. Gosh .. cant beleive this happened .. But hey dont worry .. We all will keep loving you no matter what and I am sure you will do great in life. You know you have a great voice .. Keep smiling ..

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  60. You will be missed on Indian Idol.You are a great performer.

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  61. It was a shock that you got voted out, but seeing your talent, your creativity and your devotion, it won't be shock for me see you as a star in coming days!! I hope you will go on further to rise the bar you had, and will be bigger star than a INDIAN IDOL!! All the best!!
    P.S.- I would be looking for updates on this blog!! :)

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  62. realllllyyy upset to see u out of indian idol....but i wist u happiness for the rest of your life

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  63. Hey Chang, Sorry @ the Indian Idol thingie...... but now selfishly waiting for your next post ....

    U ROCK dude.

    ~ Swati

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  64. Hi Chang,

    Serendipitously chanced across your blog. Though I live in the UK started watching the Indian Idol this year when I saw talented singers like you. I started getting upset with the voting results right from the time Smita got out … it was a clear trend (except perhaps Abhishek) that person voted out was hardly the worst performer….
    You have performed really …really…..really ……well. Trust me, all of us were really upset to see you voted out.

    But I am sure you have a great musical career ahead of you….like Alisha says you are blessed with a unique pop voice. Keep up the good work and all the best.

    BTW amazing blog!! You are really talented.

    Cheers

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  65. Hi Chang,

    Serendipitously chanced across your blog. Though I live in the UK started watching the Indian Idol this year when I saw talented singers like you. I started getting upset with the voting results right from the time Smita got out … it was a clear trend (except perhaps Abhishek) that person voted out was hardly the worst performer….
    You have performed really …really…..really ……well. Trust me, all of us were really upset to see you voted out.

    But I am sure you have a great musical career ahead of you….like Alisha says you are blessed with a unique pop voice. Keep up the good work and all the best.

    BTW amazing blog!! You are really talented.

    Cheers

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  66. You seem to be skilled at interesting writing and not just singing, I see.

    Wasn't too happy to see you leave the II3 stage. Couldn't vote from here in the US.

    Here on, even if you choose not to takeup a singing career, do post audio/video clips of your renditions and performances on this blog! That would be great, using tech to circumvent the big music record labels and industry middlemen to effect a direct outreach to interested listeners...

    Have no doubts you'll go far whatever you choose to take up.
    All the best.

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  67. ok I am keenly waiting for you to get back to blogging!!:P

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  68. Hey Chang, u write really well! :)
    Must say you are a multi-talented person. Do write about ur experience at Indian Idol, I am sure everyone will love reading it. Good luck to you! :)

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  69. u r just amazing, i have no words to admire.I knew u as only singer but now i know u as a complete artist who is a very sensible human being!!!!!!!!!!i really really admire u for what u are.

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  70. Dear Meiyang,
    Don't worry this is a friendly message from a sensible fellow blogger:P None of that fawning and making you embarassed about your Indian Idol journey. However, I had the opportunity to come across your blog, and I hope you don't mind that I read some of your posts. I really liked it. I have a blog of my own, though I am mostly into posting articles of interest.
    A little introduction about me. My name is Rima. I am graduate student in the U.S concentrating in International Development. I enjoy blogging and all forms of online socializing. So, I would like it if you added me to your blog viewer list. Here is my blog site: http://rimabhattacharyay.blogspot.com/search?q=
    Oh yes, I also have a Google group called Talking News, which I welcome you to join. Hope to hear back from you.
    Now, after such a detailed introduction, I wish to congratulate you on your experiences thus far on Indian Idol. I am sure you have learnt so much from this once in a lifetime experience. Though I could not vote from the US, I did appreciate your songs and sent you my good-wishes through the miracles of telepathy:) I am sure you have plenty ahead of you.
    Hope to hear back from you.
    Best wishes,
    Rima

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  71. Such descriptions are never-ending... It's indeed difficult to decide what to mention and what not!!!

    One word i can use for your work is: WONDERFUL...
    A very well balanced mention on the ground reality, although more focussed on the "critic" side of the coin!!

    I've always been fond of reading pieces of such penned down works.. I myself do write but quite rarely..And this one, finally gets added to my collection of pieces of writings by unknown authors like you..

    Keep putting up more...
    All the best.

    With love,
    niyati

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  72. You were one of the best!!!

    And we all are waiting for you to restart your stint here..

    Lots of Love and Luck!!!

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  73. Hey Chang, why don't you continue writing this wonderful blog. Everyone heard your talent; let them read and find out how talented you are with writing. Besides, share your off screen experiences, which we did not see.

    Thanks.

    Pinaki Ghosh
    Kolkata
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Pinaki_ghosh

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  74. will u be ever back on blogs???????

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  75. Dear Meiyang,

    I am deeply impressed by your soothing voice and writing prowess. They say, time is the best healer, so I sincerely hope that you have overcome the pain of elimination by now. I am your compatriot, living thousands of miles away from you in New York City, and I have watched you perform on the Indian Idol program with a great deal of admiration. I am originally from Patna, Bihar, so you and I have something in common there.

    I offer you Robert Frost's words of wisdom to comfort you:

    The woods are lovely, dark, and deep
    But I have promises to keep
    And miles to go before I sleep
    And miles to go before I sleep.

    You are a man of many talents, and I have no doubt that you will continue to make an indelible impression on the lives you touch every day through your knowledge of medical science and music.

    Please write me at jilaniw@yahoo.com when you have a spare moment. I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to communicate with you.

    Best wishes,

    Jilani

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  76. Now am fan of ur writing style... what a wonderful description of kolkatta.... have heard a lot abt this city and almost exactly the same what you have described, although never got a chance to be there but have heard about it's flith, lazyness, pan stains, fish smell, slum like living style and shabby clothes drenched in sweat and dirt... have heard of crazy crowd but found your description wonderful. Would like to quote few lines of urs which really made me laugh like anything and yet true
    "The merchants are always draped in formal clothes, albeit very old fashioned and often unwashed or stained forever by the air of the city, with gold chains peeping out innocently through shirt buttons left open deliberately – to beat the heat & to display chest hair" and
    "I notice a unique system of buying vegetables online – literally!!!!! "
    Talking of horns well would like to say be it kolkatta or Hyderabad or Banglore I have notice people find it rather fun to honk horns whether required or not and it irritates a lot, am out of india for last 2 yrs and haven't heard a single horn which is quite relaxing...
    Well got an oppurtunity to see dragon dance and lion dance in singapore during chinese new year and fell in love with it.... have wonderful snaps and videos for memories
    ~Preeti

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  77. Haha Chang from indian idol...Man i was Voting for YOU!!!!!!!!!! howd you get out lol =D. I LOVE YA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hope someone signs a record deal or something for you <3

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  78. I must say, you write beautifully. Such vivid descriptions.

    It seems you've dropped off some time ago, but I would love to see you continue!

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  79. Chang, I accidentally stumbled upon your blog. I have been following II3 for couple of months and its needless to say, you were one of my favorite contestants. But, as the competitors narrows down, the challenge becomes stiffer and its hard to say who would go out next. U impressed all of your fans a lot.
    Please do not stop singing. Be a dentist but try making big in singing.

    Pramod Singh

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  80. hi chang,
    this whole thing of blog is new to me, and all i can say is that, there is actually now something new for me to read, since i only thought net was for finding information and keeping in touch with frds.i m really looking forward to read more of ur stuff as its interesting, funny, cute and true.BTW i always used to wonder what kolkata is like and also the other north eastern states and the culture out there!so ur writings quite descriptive as they r enlightened me. bye and take care

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  81. Good Blog !!! , Chang !
    I'm Priyantha, from Sri Lanka, also a good Buddhist.
    ************************
    I've a Buddhist Blog, I've created a link for your blog from there. I think you'll do the same.The address is,

    http://thetriplegem.blogspot.com/

    *************************
    ( I've heard about this site via,.blogtantra.com/)

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  82. I probably shouldn't be doing this...but I'm going to anyway

    Are you actually THE Meiyang Chang of Indian Idol?

    Whether you are or not, this blog is soooo well written, that I just had to tell you!

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  83. Hey you’re this site is very nice. But if you post chang images with this article and its become more nice. Thanks for chang information.
    from
    www.weyouth.wordpress.com

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  84. Helly Meiyang,

    I've truly enjoyed your presence at II3 this year. It was a treat to hear you sing and watch you improve yourself and your singing along the way. I've ready your blogs, and I'm impressed at how well you write as well.

    I don't know how you must feel now, but I hope you come back to writing. I'm sure that you are the only person that could themselves in an excellent manner of your experiences.

    I don't know you, but from your writings, you seem to be an excellent person, that thinks, that tries to understand, and that tries to enjoy life to their best of abilities.

    I hope that you find a way into the music world and stay there. Regardless of that I hope you keep expressing yourself.

    Take care.

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  85. A few of the INDian Idol top ten contestants in Nepal! They are performing at a campus opposite to my house and I still can't go... The ticket price is HIGH! Well, I hope u had a nice time in ktm... and update your blog please, I'm dying to read your stuff (even after I've read a lot of it in the archives anyway.) I love your writing... Say hi to Emon from me (from an anonymus girl in Ktm, tell him)

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  86. Amazing words and line of thought. True to your characteristic charisma on stage, the Indian idol, and the very example of a what a brilliant artist you are!!! You , your music and your blogs rock!!!

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  87. I have not been to Kolkata in 11 years and have no idea what has happened to the city since. I don't know if this is a blessing or a curse. Recently, my brother did a trip to Kolkata and was all praise for it. But then he stayed in the posh parts of the city. Yes, Calcutta is dirty and all that but you can't deny that it doesn't have character.

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  88. very interesting..if only i had some time to take out to read it all..but yea..don't give up on your writing

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  89. Kolkata is far beyond the appearances that assils the senses. She dresses shabbyly but the dress belies her soul, which is still young and romantic. One needs to look beyond the appearances. I stay in Bangalore too and I have felt that Kolkata can't be described or written about, it has to be experienced first hand like the way you did. I guess this holds good for most cities that have a character or personality of their own such as Bombay and New York. But what sets Kolkata apart from these other cities, I think, is that it has multiple personalities, each oblivious of the existence of the other. Kolkata is different to different people, and I feel she assumes a different guise for all who approach her. That's what makes the City of Joy such an unique place...

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  90. Hi.. I think you could have looked more deeply.. Calcutta isnt that bad you know... And please for heaven's sake dont call it Kolkata.. Anyway.. it maybe a small city with lots bad things about it.. but what you need to do see what it truely is.. its on of the most homely cities in the world.. its pace.. its life.. everything about it is unique.. yours is a totally outsiders view of things.. get into the depth of things.. calcutta maybe brutal to you..thats because you didnt try to get into things.. well.. must congratulate you on this great blog.. Great Going..

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  91. I never ever thought that a blog on my experiences in a city would evoke so many responses, both appreciative as well as criticising. As the tagline in my profile somewhere states, the views expressed in my blog are mine & mine alone and can be right or wrong. Anyways, real glad to have gotten such a heartening response. In response to Tanvi, I agree with you. My views of Kolkata are an outsider's view. But if you read the ending lines, you'll notice I state that I do believe there are many good aspects of Kolkata (or Calcutta) . This post was about this one journey to Cal. It's from a backpacker's point of view. Please, I'm not trying to paint Cal in a bad light. I love that city a lot to do that, but then I also do not hesistate from stating what I feel about certain things.
    \
    Well, I'd say the purpose of my blogging seems to have been fulfilled. Such interaction can be fun!!!!

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  92. I agree.. I'm a true calcuttan.. Born n brought up here i've gotten used to fighting for the misconceptions against the city.. Infact my friends in delhi (where im pursuing my bachelors) say that im more of a bong than a punjabi.. but thats not important.. im a calcuttan above everything else.. n somehow u may call it a bias i cant bear stuff against and i could actually pull out your hair after reading your blog.. And of course i truly appreciate your opinion.. After all i have mine too.. Though would love to prove it to people that my lovely city is as wonderful as i call it..

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  93. I have never been to Calcutta, but this piece took me there. I loved this piece! We all have different perspectives and you express yours without reservations. Yours is an amazingly vivid, descriptive, concentrated stlye of writing where image piles upon image to put the reader in your world as you see it. Keep at it! You are gifted.
    Now, I really don't like complimenting anyone so much....at least not so directly. But anyway, Chang...of late, logic and rational behavior are foreign to me. Thanks to you! Darn.

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  94. a very readable account of kolkata!
    enjoyed it thoroughly!

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  95. i was not born in calcutta but spent my entire life in the city of joy ..!! i was a bit cynical when i started reading your blog about my beloved city but then as i went along i realized that staying and loving the city you grow up in blinds one and after sometime you don't see the shortcomings of the city.. it was nice reading about your perspective about the city of joy.. specially the part where you speak about calcutta not being a lazy and laid back..!! thank you for that.. another thing..i apologize for saying calcutta.. i do so because whenever i say calcutta i feel a connection to the city somehow kolkata sound unfamiliar..!!

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  96. I liked your blog its nice. Keep it up good work.
    Anjali Sen
    [SEO Kolkata]

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  97. Anonymous4:47 AM

    This is an interesting post about water pollution from an Industry ....gives me enough feed about a project im taking up.....thanks....- apg

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  98. Very informative post. Thanks for sharing. The interesting array of places to visit in Kolkata makes the epithet 'The City of Joy' all the more meaningful and help you discover the joy of various Kolkata tourist places. Check out all best places to visit in Kolkata also.

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