Sybaritic

img_1090Kolkatta sounds like…

Horns.

Long honks, short honks, high honks, frantic honks. Bells ringing. People shouting. Bengali spoken in doorways, soft, rolling tongues. Rickshaw wheels turning, creaking, splashing. Dogs crying in high-pitched wines. Lots of “Hello, Madam’s!“ More bells. More horns.

Kolkatta smells like…

Sunshine. Dog shit. Incense. Fresh meat.
Some indefinable fragrance that mingles with every other smell, perfuming the meat stalls, and mixing effortlessly with the incense. Flowers? Soap? I have no idea what it is.

Kolkatta tastes like…

Spicy paneer curry, chunks of cheese floating in tomato butter sauce. Fried dahl, eaten on fresh rotis served straight from the oven. CHAI TEA. Spicy biryani, long-grain rice cooked with vegetables and plenty of ghee. Cold, cold water.

Kolkatta looks like…

Colorful women in floating saris, their toes painted every color imaginable, bangles on their arms. Saffron strips down the center part in their hair, and sparkling jewels gracing every spare inch of space- arms, ears, fingers, toes.

Sidewalks that crumble into orange pits of stone and dust. Bollywood posters on alley walls. Barefoot rickshaw drivers pulling their creaking chariots behind them, skinny arms and legs belying their strength. Shirtless old men gathered on street corners to play chess, or checkers, or some other indistinguishable game. Red teeth, black teeth, no teeth.

Kolkatta feels like…

Silk. A tiny mug of hot chai in your hand. Sweaty skin, sticky clothes. Cold AC. Lumpy beds. One stool, another stool, a million stools pulled up for you to sit on, while more chai is served, and more wares are plied. A clenching heart as your rickshaw driver pulls out into racing, honking, on-coming traffic, and the sun beats down on your skin.

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2 Responses to Sybaritic

  1. Sheila says:

    GREAT descriptive writing! How I wish the fam could be there with you but we’ll have to settle for your wonderful travelogue instead. Go India! Go Sarah!

  2. ben says:

    Colours, sounds, tastes. A different place, a different world. As you live, you learn. We all miss you much here in Seattle.

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