Calcutta is one of my hometowns. Not many people who know me can understand my complete and utter devotion to the city. These notes are an attempt to somehow share what I feel and why I feel it. 🙂
One of the things I really miss about Calcutta are the radio shows hosted late at night. Every night, after 11pm, if you turned on your radio set and browsed through channels, you’d find each station playing forgotten melodies. From Hemant Kumar to Mohd. Rafi to Madan Mohan; there wasn’t a maestro who wasn’t remembered every night. Language wasn’t a barrier either. The rj would speak in Bangla and then play music in Hindi. Sometimes, the shows would feature songs in Hindi & Bangla together. If Kishore da sang “Ye kya hua” in Hindi, the rj would tempt you with “Ei ki holo” playing first. That is the joy of my city. A city which is obsessive about progress and westernization takes time every night to remember the past and relive an age of music gone by.
I have often spent long nights in my grandfather’s old rocking chair, sipping milk and listening to these songs. Me and my grand mom would have competitions as to who could recognize famous Hindi songs when their Bengali versions played. She who lost took the other out for coffee.
Even today, when I land on a late night flight and drive through the vast, almost empty expanse of Rajarhat, I tune the radio and the long journey home is dramatically shortened.
And today, when I sit in my home in this desert city and browse through channels, I hear lame rjs playing agony aunt. I hear Kylie’s Chiggy Wiggy instead of Dil Aisa Kisi Ne Mera Toda.
Every night I listened to the radio in Calcutta, I was revisiting an old friend. One I’d almost forgotten. Here, I meet the same old acquaintances who force a smile onto my lips but bring no joy to my heart.