Letters to FP: Kolkata should just get rid of its 'cultural capital' label

Feb 1, 2013 18:30 IST

#Cultural Capital   #Howrah   #Kolkata   #Salman Rushdie   #Wereadyou   #West Bengal  

On 01 February, we published an article titled Rushdie ban reveals the shameful truth about Kolkata that discussed how the ban on Rushdie affected the image of Kolkata as the cultural capital of India.

One of our commenters, Truly Indian, wrote us a strong, smart comment to that article, which we have now published as a separate post. He points out that the label is completely fallacious and that Kolkata should just stop calling itself the cultural capital of India.

As is Firstpost policy, we have edited for language, and grammar.

by Truly Indian

Being someone who has stayed in Kolkata for a few years, and who travels there a few times a year on work, I am rather surprised by the label that the city has got.

Akin to the 1 percent who "control the narrrative" statement by Rahul Bose, it is also true that 1% control the counter-narrative of it being a cultural, literary, intellectual city - this 1 percent is desperately clinging to a past that was once glorious, and in their fanciful hallucinations, they draw a linear relationship between the past and the present. Talk to 50 random people on the street in Kolkata, and one senses how empty and hollow both constructs are.

So the question that begs asking is, what do the remaining 98% do, what narrative do they subscribe to?

Take a guess.

Howrah: PTI

Howrah: PTI

They dont care. Hearts can be without fear only when the bellies are somewhat full. And the ones whose bellies are full, are busy filling up the lockers at home and dont have time for all this culture claptrap....except when they go to Calcutta club, and do culture (yes, they DO culture) , plus that club is straight out of a colonial era.

Frankly, a majority do not care about either of the 2 narratives.

Myth broken. Let us just leave Kolkata alone - the destruction of West Bengal under the communists has been of such magnitude, socially, economically, intellectually, that chances of Kolkata doing a Detroit are remote.

Take a look at the cabs outside Howrah - or see the general levels of customer service in hotels, or see the laidback lifestyles, a sense of entitlement to a good life without putting in 8-10 hours of sincere honest work....yap yap yap....amar para tomar para.....ki bolcho dadu...aita toh phinish hoye gechey and ouita toh cholbe nah.....public sector, private sector, wherever......hence take another look at those rickety-rackety cabs with rattling doors and windows that dont roll down (or up) at howrah.....they symbolize Kolkata in more ways than one can articulate :)