My mom has always been fond of Kolkata and so am I. What attracts us towards this city could be defined by the name itself; Kolkata-the city of joy! The city can be described by its round faced, soft spoken people speaking India’s sweetest language, finding bliss in eating ‘fuchka’; in stalls which could be found almost anywhere you see. Clear complexioned, beautiful looking girls dressed in cute outfits giggling and gossiping, unknowingly (or rather knowingly!) catching guy’s attention. Be it a housemaid or a high ranked officer, they share such sense of oneness that one could hardly make out the difference in their status by listening to their conversation.
The one thing which I found really disturbing about this city is the smoke; by smoke, I don’t mean the polluted gas from vehicles but the carcinogenic smoke from cigarettes. This is something surprising that a city that seems to be all immersed in happiness is home to so many smokers. I was pondering on what could be the reason for this wrong scenario but could not find a convincing answer. I have been to many places in India but nowhere have I felt the omnipresence of smokers!
I once went to Jadavpur University where I got amazed to see so many students holding cigarettes in a manner which for them seemed like a symbol of pride. To save myself from being the victim of passive smoking, I would either cover my nose or just try to hold my breath until I cross this “high smoke zone” which I encounter everyday while my way to office. One morning, while coming to office, I saw a relatively big cloud of smoke right infront of me and I immediately held my breath. As I moved one step ahead and looked on my right to curse the person, I realized, to my amusement, that it’s source was not cigarette but incense sticks! I found this encounter quite amusing because in Kolkata, the first thing that comes in mind on seeing smoke is not bus, auto or incense but cigarettes!
I hope this mindset could change but this would rather need a radical change in people’s outlook; we need to get convinced that smoking doesn’t make us look cool, or it isn’t a way to freak out with friends or to get relief of pain after being betrayed by a girl! I just hope and wish that the intellect in Calcuttians wouldn’t get choked up by cigarette smoke but would proudly spread out like incense.