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By Upasya Bhowal

There are people -

People is a certain city

Who wake up to the thud of the morning newspaper

Plonking down on the balcony.

Out of bed in a jiffy,

Their first priority is not the mundane brushing of teeth.

They instead prefer to set the saucepan blubbing,

As the familiar aroma of tea leaves

Wafts down the house.

A long sip and the crackle of flipping newspaper pages later,

They are ready to take on the day.

From the ting ting ting of a bus moving on,

To the ding ding ding of a tram stopping by,

From complaining passengers

To rap songs blabbered incessantly by the conductors,

From “Dada, jaben?” (Sir, will you go here?)

to flatout rejections.

From the hurried running of polished office shoes

Right down to the ringing calls of peddlers

That echo every now and then -

This is the alarm clock

That my city wakes up to.

People here settle down to the unparalleled comfort

Of the slurp of Mushur daal,

The crunch of aloo bhaja

The mmmm of maacher jhol

And the unfaltering reassurance of

Arektu dao na..”

(One more serving please)

And after lunch is done,

The entire household

Willingly submits itself to sleep

In the middle of the day -

Cherishing their mandatory bhaat ghum too dearly to give it up.

Sometimes in the evening,

A stranger might stop another on the road,

“Dada, eta kon dike ektu bolte parben?

(Can you tell me where this place is?)

And even after a long, hard day of slogging,

You will hear the tired office goer

Lay down detailed directions,

Show the way

Before heading home

To rooms echoing with blasphemous serials and their plethora of sound effects

Or Tagore’s melodies floating out of old cassette players and gramophone records,

As cups of tea and slices of conversation

Are handed around,

To close off the day.

The next morning,

My city tunes in one again

To this mixtape -

Of the old world gliding by

And the new one setting in.

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