AH! Calcutta

AH! CALCUTTA!
Ah! Calcutta, city of my birth and half my lifetime
A drop of nostalgia tinges remembrance in this rhyme
The Sir Stuart Hogg market (known as such to but a few)
A century old yet referred to by one and all as “New”
On Saturday evenings we thronged at the movies
Memsahibs flashed arms gleaming with gold “choories”
Later we could take an easy stroll
To Nizam’s for a tr   aditional karti roll.
Your frenetic transport hub that is the Esplanade
Was once a spacious gracious promenade
Where colonial gents and ladies strolled nice and easy
Perhaps imagining they were on the Strand, or Champs Elysee
From there stretched and stretched the green of the Burra Maidan
Venue for sports like soccer, netball and the annual kit battles called “Badam”
At its end the Vic Memorial white symbol of the Raj
Were they really trying to imitate the Taj ?
I well remember your annual menace
When the rains made your streets resemble the canals of Venice
In the rain the rickshaw’s tattered tarpaulin
Almost shielded its shrinking passengers within
Yet cover for an opportunistic lad to steal a kiss
From his shy but not unwilling miss
Heedless of potential damage to their teeth
Should rickshaw wheel encounter a pot hole in the street
The fleshpots clustered in Park Street
Where those with cash so loved to meet
And comely A.I. girls with matching vocal chords to use
Became each establishment’s resident chanteuse
A.I. clubs regularly “brought up” dances
Where one could pursue old or new romances
And those joints really came alive
When they played the most popular beat – the jive
To be in some unwritten macho groove
A.I. lads would neither get on or off a tram that wasn’t on the move
We hung around the entrance for breeze in the sultry air
And hoped, with luck, to avoid the fare
So often incongruously magnificent buildings soared
Above garbage strewn streets and roads
An aging, fading, yet still alluring old gal
Is how I remember good old Cal!

By: George Hart

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