I met people all over the world in the past couple of years. When I tell them that “I come from Calcutta,” and if he/she has been to Calcutta, I always tend to get a positive / shocking response. For instance, “Calcutta is a place to which we must return to - really enjoyed the place” or “Of all the cities I have visited around the world, I feel that there is something different about Calcutta.”

These things are even shocking when it comes from people with a lot of work and travel experience. “Calcutta is a place to which we must return to - really enjoyed the place” comes from Stephen ‘Steve’ Spielman and wife Enid. They have spent 25 years living and working throughout Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and USA. Steve is a Harvard Law School graduate (Class of ’67) – he worked as a defense trial lawyer for some of the US’s largest corporations. Later he switched to international development and was given the position of a senior diplomat for the US government. Assigned to work in places like Pakistan, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria. After he retired he started to teach as an ad hoc university instructor in the US and full-time faculty at Webster University Thailand.

Throughout these great adventures, Steve’s wife Enid has always been on his side. She has been actively engaged throughout as an international public health professional and a university instructor in the biological sciences, history of disease and medicine, and international public health. Now aren’t you shocked too, I mean this (“Calcutta is a place to which we must return to really enjoyed the place”) coming from couple who has humungous life experience and have traveled to so many places. Steve used to me stories about his visit to Calcutta. He used to usually fly from Islamabad to Calcutta and back while working on legal cases.

Brenda Bence, Managing Director of Brand Development Association International is a management graduate from Harvard University. Bence has worked and traveled all around the globe. Over the years Bence has been a part of the top management in various organizations and is presently running her own business in Asia. She was invited to Webster University Thailand as a guest speaker. She shared with students her views on ‘the strategic role of humor in advertising.’ Her presentation comprised of the most effective and humorous television commercial from around the world.

While I was interviewing her for the university newspaper with Deepraj, we told her that we were from Calcutta. And this was her response “Of all the cities I have visited around the world, I feel that there is something different about Calcutta. I always want to go back.” Shocked again.

David Howell, has been working in the advertising industry for decades. He has been the creative director for several advertising agencies. I remember the story he told in one of his classes. While he was traveling around Europe in search of his first job, he landed outside a reputed ad agency in Austria and called the boss of the company. The boss couldn’t offer any job to him then but invited to him to call later. After few months David got the job. Seven year down the line. David was the boss of the same company. Just imagine the growth. And I am not talking about just any company. He was working with a reputed ad agency (among top 5 in the world.)

Since then David has been traveling and working all around the world - New York, Europe, Australia, Thailand and many more. His last job was as the CEO of EURO RSCG in Thailand. After retiring he started to teach advertising to students at Webster University Thailand.

When I met him last, I told him that I will return to Calcutta. He was excited to learn that. He told me that, “I visited Calcutta many times and always enjoy the city.” He even told me that he might visit Calcutta, during March this year.

My editor-friend Deepraj Sen hails from Calcutta and my international-rakhi-sister Richa Maheshwari is from Merut but has lived in Thailand most of her life. Deepraj, Richa, Sajal Maheshwari, Shouvik Roy, and David DeLuca made a documentary on the life of people (living on a small island in Southern Thailand) after the catastrophic tsunami. Everything from pre-production-research to final editing was done by these young individuals.

For the next assignment, Deepraj Sen (the director) wanted to make a documentary about Calcutta. Richa and I asked him, “Why do you want to make documentary on Calcutta? What’s so special about Calcutta?” He was confident about making the documentary but couldn’t explain in words, but we could somehow feel it. Couldn’t we, Richa?

These are only a few incidents which I told about, there are many more like these.

I have lived in Calcutta (well Howrah, okay Liluah) for over 18 years now, and have traveled a lot. Even I feel that there is something different about Calcutta. But I cannot explain what that difference is. I have asked all the above people “What is different about Calcutta?” But I never got a real answer. Do you know?

Deep, I cannot wait too see that documentary.

For all those people, who might be wondering about Calcutta now. I know that I cannot explain you in words that “What is different about Calcutta?” But I guess I can explain in photographs. With the support of my friends (Yogesh, Vivek and Shiv) I made a photo trip of Calcutta. We clicked photos at the Vivekananda Bridge, Kalighat, Victoria Memorial and other places on the way. I will post those photos soon on my blog.


vp said...

now toh even i cant wait to see this documentory...

garhwalk said...

tell deep (and team) about it.