As I was unpacking my bags in the new apartment in Germany, I came across the notebook in which I write all my poems. I hadn’t touched that one in quite some time, not even to read my mostly teenage angst-inspired, and sometimes surprisingly grown-up poems. This thought gave me pause; what had I written the last time I was here?
It’s strange how I’ve never written anything, anywhere, about books, considering that I practically devour them in a matter of a few hours, at one go. I can never decide what is closer to my heart—books or travel. They keep exchanging places and taking the Numero Uno spot turn by turn. I shouldn’t be surprised though; after all, aren’t books a way of travelling to a different place too?
Rain, lots of people and the Howrah bridge — that was my first glimpse of the City of Joy. I reached Calcutta on a summer evening late in April. Despite the rain, the heat and humidity levels were nowhere near bearable. The short walk from the air-conditioned cab to the air-conditioned hotel lobby had me sweating profusely. In my sweat-drenched kurta-salwar, with a rucksack on my back and a small sack and suitcase in hand, I must have looked a real sight. That night, as I lay in an unfamiliar bed some 2000 odd kilometres away from home, I thought I would never like this city; that it was just another city in India that I could add to my travels and forget. I couldn’t have been more wrong.