It is 5.30 am. The air is humid. It is windy. The traffic is smooth and still sparse. Sangbit picked me up from the airport. We drive to his home, the area of Southern Avenue. A long avenue, longed by trees. We pass a wonderful parc that surrounds the Rabindra Sarovar Lake. The Calcutta version of NY Central Park. Yellow ambassador taxis are parked everywhere, 1950ies design, probably originals. Sometimes they are even in an elegant creamy white. Why did we have to change to this horrible insect looking 21st century cars, most of them in weird tones of ugly grey or black with a metallic finish ? The houses are old, the colors faded away, the bricks are sometimes overgrown with moss (Calcutta is situated in the tropic of the cancer). Am I in the 21st century ? Yes, Uber and Ola (Indian Uber) cars pass by, inside Indians fixing their smartphones.
We get up to the first floor of Sangbit house. Sangbit’s mother welcomes us. She is adorable and prepares me a fantastic breakfast. A papaya, banana fruit salad, seasoned with a bit of pepper and the best (and first) cucumber sandwiches of my life. I get wonderful welcome gifts (a beautiful scarf, earrings matching my Salwar Karmeez, Tagore’s selected essays). We take our darjeeling tea on the terrace. Life starts. Maids in their saris rush to work or accompany children in uniform to school. Rick-shaw men start their day. Dog owners in jogging clothes take out their pets to the parc. Tea is prepared at very corner of the road in small little “terre cuite” jars. Mostly men stop by, having a tea and a chat, or reading their newspaper. Calcutta creates a yearning for a vanished world, even if it never existed.