I’m briefly in Kolkata on work. It is always interesting to be in this city. There is an initial shock when you come on to the city’s narrow roads: SUVs share the road with rickshaws, bicycles and forty-year old yellow cabs.
But when you think about it, there’s nothing particularly different about this city. The traffic is certainly no worse than in Bangalore, perhaps even slightly better. There is less aggression on the road than in Delhi. Urban decay is no worse than in most parts of Mumbai. There are malls and coffee shops all over town. But there are parts of Kolkata which look the same as they did 30 years back: narrow roads, lines of shops in single story structures. The shops open late, because shop keepers are of the opinion that having a good life is more important than getting richer.
The combination of the bicycle and the locked door of a shop is quintessentially Kolkata.