Friday, January 2, 2009

A Journey to the City of Joy on Dec 6

A Journey to the City of Joy on Dec 6
Syed Ali Mujtaba

I write to you from Kolkata, the city of joy. I arrived here at 11 am Dec6, 2008. It was a scary site at the Chennai airport from where I flew to the city of joy. I did received security alert warning on my SMS and had to under go several layers security checkup every since entering the airport premises till the boarding of the aircraft. My shaving stick was confiscated and so was my pack of shaving blades.

The airport was virtually looking like a fortress. I was cursing myself what did not I remember its Dec 6, the day Babari Masjid was demolished in 1992. How can I forget that? Why did I decide to travel on this date?

Well I decided to travel one because it was Saturday second I thought since it’s more than 15 years now to that event; the security of the threat perception may have waned.

I remember on every anniversary bombs were planted in trains. It was blamed on the terrorist outfit called Al Umma that was born in Tamil Nadu following the demolition of the mosque. After a large number of arrests and more than 100 conviction made in this case, it seems Al Umma has been disbanded.

So I thought December 6 could be just any other day to travel. I never anticipated the Mumbai terror attack and the strict security arrangement that followed it. Anyway every thing went off well. I consoled my self, its better to be safe than sorry.

It was a smooth flight from Chennai to Kolkata. There was a clear sky and I enjoyed watching from the window seat my aircraft wading through the white clouds. I remember as a child whenever I use to see those clouds I always wanted to touch them or go beyond them; I felt the realization of his dream.

It took about 2 hrs to reach the destination but it took 1 hr and 45 minutes to reach my cousins house where I transited for my onward journey. The scene in Calcutta was usual electrifying. The hustle and bustle of one billion of Indian people can be fathomed having a general view of the road.

The world war vintage yellow taxis with their worn on tiers were cantering on the roads. Some mini trucks and vans laden with people could be seen in the serpentine queue of vehicles lined up at the traffic signals.

All through the way from airport to the city I saw huge cut outs of Argentina football star Diego Maradona who was to land in the Mecca of Indian football for a public reception. The way his image was on displayed all over, it was imminent the footballers reception will be a grand occasion.

This general spirit of the city remains unchanged. Here humanity remains engaged in negotiating the burden of life finding joy in it. This spirit is best on display every time I travel to the city of joy.


Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

1 Comment -

Nice to know you're back for Id and didn't get locked up on suspicion to be handed over to Mumbai cops for shopping from handcarts. These chaps sell things from CDs, DVDs, mobile phones and such goodies and have a thriving business in Kolkata like in other cities. Persons wishing to avoid the 'cooling of heels' to comply with silly procedures and waste time patronize them.

Good luck again,
Sampathkumar Ariyangar

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