A Tale of Two Cities
This was once the Capital of British India, the seat of all power, the cultural and spiritual heart of the subcontinent. Those days are but tales of a former glory. Today, this is a city that has fallen far behind and has done little to reverse the decline.
That is not to say that there is nothing of value in Kolkata. The Victoria Memorial, Royal Botanical Garden, Belur Math are magnificent examples of the rich and diverse history of this splendid, decaying metropolis. Ancient temples and other places of worship adorn otherwise squalid surroundings.
For a region that once produced so many exceptional individuals from all facets of life, the engines have all but stopped and the fire that once burned, embers. Times change and we change with the times. This city unfortunately did not.
“The child in each of us knows paradise.
Paradise is home. Home as it was or home as it should have been.
Paradise is one’s own place, one’s own people, one’s own world, knowing and known, perhaps even loving and loved.
Yet every child Is cast from paradise - into growth and new community, into vast, ongoing change.”
— Octavia E. Butler
“Now it occurred to me that perhaps this was what happened when cities died. They didn’t die with a bang; they didn’t die only when they were abandoned. Perhaps they died like this: when everybody was suffering, when transport was so hard that working people gave up jobs they needed because they feared the suffering of the travel; when no one had clean water or air; and no one could go walking.”
— V.S. Naipaul
“When the astonished gods behold it as they fly by in their aerial chariots, they always speculate upon it at length, saying ‘This must be a natural abode of Siva; for such beauty is never seen in an artificial construction’; even the artisan who created it was (himself) suddenly amazed, and said: ‘I cannot bring myself to endeavor to create such a thing again; how is it that I made this?’”
— Baroda Copper Plate Inscription of Karkaraja II
“If we look at the path, we do not see the sky. We are earth people on a spiritual journey to the stars Our quest, our earth walk is to look within, to know who we are, to see that we are connected to all things, that there is no separation, only in the mind.”
— Native American Saying
“Kochi, formerly called Cochin, is a former European settlement with a large Christian population and a seafaring heritage. It is a town of enormous charm that reminds some visitors of the Caribbean more than India.”
— Gary Weiss