(A good friend of mine had moved to Kolkota recently after marriage. She had posted her thoughts about how she could not understand why people discussed politics endlessly on her blog. This is my reply to her.)
The fervor with which the politics is discussed in Kerala is almost similar to that of Kolkata. I can understand the non-political stand that an outsider to Kolkota would take. But discussing politics is much more than what it seems on the outside. It serves as a means for socializing with the community as a whole. It serves as a common thread with which people from all walks of life come together to meet, greet and discuss. Politics is a subject which without being very intrusive can still be discussed with fervor and passion by people across all caste barriers. It is much better than discussing mundane things like the weather, or books.
You say that you wish that people spend their time more creatively discussing the share market or hot careers. But tell me with what amount of passion could you discuss hot careers or the length of time that such a subject could be discussed. Also, the amount of expertise that one requires to talk about such topics is tremendously high.It additionally, unintentionally also divides people on the basis on educational qualification bringing the divide among the rich and the poor to the fore and pushing the topic being discussed to the background.
Discussion of the topics like hot careers mentioned by you always divides the audience into multiple sections each rooting for their own opinion of the topic. Multiple opinions on a topic always make discussions very complex. It confuses people who join the discussion very late, as to which of the many sides of the discussion to take. So participants like the chaiwala, vegetable vendor who come in for a few minutes and leave cannot put in their cents to the conversation.
The discussion of politics in most cases just has two sides to it. Either speak about the good, or speak about the bad and very rarely an unbiased voice giving an objective spin to things. People who join the conversation late can also put their thoughts without following much of the initial conversation. Conversations like this tend to go on much longer even after the original originator of the conversation have left the discussion.
You did say “Kolkata’s pace of development is at snail’s pace, compared to other states”. Again what development has happened in Bangalore. The city has become multi-cultural, malls have popped up, the multi-nationals are all here. People may have many friends on Facebook, but people living here do not know who their next door neighbours are, or the elderly gentleman who lives down the street.
Living in Kolkota for a few years has taught this much. Discussion of politics in Kolkata is more of a community bonding experience rather than a discourse on intellectual showmanship. It brings communities together. People who have nothing in common, become the greatest of friends after both of them supported each other in a discussion on politics.
The entire political experience in Kolkata is very much like Facebook
People put up their status, some people like, some people dislike, some comment favorably, some comment unfavorably, the entire community discusses and all involved share a special bond.