And they say we’re lucky — this is the end of the monsoon season. No flooding that I’ve seen yet, but we’ve had to empty the de-humidifiers in our apartment (there is one in every room) each night. At least now when I use the expression “drinking the air” it’s much more tangible.
It was nighttime when we arrived. I was disappointed that Dum-Dum International, like the city it serves, has been renamed. It is now Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, conjuring up nationalistic visions, though a bit unsettling, given that the airport is named after a patriot who died in a plane crash.
Our housing and the Consulate are located in the heart of Calcutta, in the older part of the city. The roads around are extrememly narrow, giving the decaying buildings an even more powerful presence. They seem to hover over us, and so far, in an extremely crowded city, I feel like we’re in a dark, dense box. Our apartment is on the ground floor, which means that we rarely open the curtains and rarely see natural light. (I’m reminded of history class in the 5th grade, and learning what scurvy was, and how sailors exploring the world succumbed to the disease).
But there’s a mood here…I haven’t figured it out quite yet. It’s unlike the India I’ve seen, and seems to be, I don’t know…enticing. The people I’ve met appear to surround themselves in culture and art and literature, and I’m feeling woefully underprepared to deal with officials in a Communist government, not because of what they believe, but because Marxist theory wasn’t a rigourously studied discipline at the old university, though we touched on it in various English classes.