Being in our time

A wall graffiti at Goalpark cries out for rational approach to the world and to politics (juktibadi), and destruction of fascist forces. I couldn’t understand what party or faction it represented – it was half-erased. Rational approach to the world could mean straighter roads and minds, less chaos and traffic. It could mean a violent washing out of all troublesome elements in society to make a more rational future possible. It could mean re-opening ration shops that had shut down.

Some folks have gone on hunger strike beseeching the other folks making ‘Maoist’ war to stop killing. It’s a rational approach to political endeavor. Maoists and government are making war- coz they have been misled to believe that innocent lives are dispensable in reaching a radical solution to a political conflict. The same government or Maoist will respect, nevertheless, the threat to life posed by Bengali intellectuals going easy on food a couple of days, and are likely to bring the war to an end out of reverence for the threatened lives of the hungered protesters. The same Maoist or government that doesn’t give a shit about thousands of extinguished lives- that is. The inner rationality of such protest is thus ‘we will inconvenience our breakfast routines in order to move you powerful forces to stop merciless killing that you otherwise would not have found inspiration or provocation to stop’.

I like the rationality of rationed entertainment provided by the monstrously air-conditioned mall next to my house in Calcutta. It makes the most business at the phuchka counters at its entrance. Many throng the mall to gossip with their neighbor, cling to their boyfriend’s elbow, show off their butt in an aircon environment. And then round it all up with five-rupee phuchka. The rows of shiny sarees and striped shirts look on, in dismay. For this is gentrification gone wrong. Even as ‘talpata’ (some leaf-type thing used to make plates by street vendors) holds on even as Plastic charges forth into its empire.


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