Always you would find a kind of all pervading nonchalance, verging on some `impertinent` indifference- in the air of Kolkata; and that is precisely the reason why Kolkata looks so indescribably unconcerned about the earthly sense of `timing`, yet manages to be felt so unclassifiably elegant and so grand.
You enter a restaurant at twelve o’clock and at 12:15 the waiter may ask what you want; at 12:35 he may inform you that he has forgotten all about you but now he would serve you `ekkhuni`(that is, as soon as possible). This word `ekkhuni` is dreadfully ominous in Kolkatan context, which might mean anything between five minutes and five weeks.
In the meantime you smoke packets of cigarettes, drink water glass after glass, read newspapers, listen to the radio, discuss contemporary world politics with your peer at the next table, review the current trends in Bengali literature…and if you find (very rarely you will, surely) your fellow companion to be somebody not as interested in either of these topics, -don’t worry a bit – there’s Cricket. There’s something about the game of Cricket, which has stunning appeal to the numerous idiosyncrasies and peculiarities of Kolkatans and they have got unbelievable love and respect (obsession almost) for this game. Thus, if nothing works, Cricket is a great way to start up conversations, and be rest assured, everybody, literally everybody would shut off their mobile phones, take their looks off the newspaper pages and happily join you in the hope of some animated discussions about Cricket. And then at 1:15 the waiter may look you up again, to tell you that the thing you ordered is off but he has brought you something else, you may take it or leave it !!!
Say, you take it…. Later you may ask for some special dessert; you repeat your request eight times. When you have given up all hope, the waiter would come to inform you that he has not forgotten it; he will assure you that they do have every facility to dish out that special dessert (that’s one thing they always have), unfortunately the experienced man recruited specially for the job has gone out to the nearby cinema hall and the others are not good enough for that particular job….. So that is that….. And you come out of the restaurant to the pulsating world outside only to find your watch racing up to 2:15 mark.
Thus, in short, always keep this in your mind, if you are in for an appointment in Kolkata and if it is scheduled at nine a.m (say) then if the other person turns up somewhere round ten-fifteen, – by Kolkatan standard, this should be considered as an amazing exhibition of punctuality.
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