Thursday, November 12, 2009


Bengalis are extremely passionate and totally engaged when it comes to politics. You can count on some part of an evening dinner or get together swinging round to what's hot, and it is all hot. After the general political apathy in Australia, I find it inspiring.

The CPM (Communist Party of India - Marxist) has been in power in West Bengal since 1977 and Abhijit told me this story.

Most of the street names here in the city have been changed from British to Hindi. Chowringhee Road becomes Ashutosh Mukherjee Road, Free School Street becomes Mirza Ghalib Sarani and so on. There are of course the Communist chaps as well like Lenin Sarani and Karl Marx Sarani.

Ho Chi Minh Sarani though is very sweet. It was formely Harrington Street and one of the residents of this street is the US Embassy. Abhi said that the CPM changed the street name in the late 70's so that it would be a small geographical thorn in the side of the Embassy and beyond, a constant reminder of the Vietnam war.

Can you imagine ... every letterhead, every business card and envelope, every single piece of paper, every correspondence and communication will always say these three words ... Ho Chi Minh.

It is poetry.


  1. You've got me noticing passionate Indian people everywhere- I was on the bus going home from Perth today when an Indian grandmother, two daughters and 3 grandchildren got on the bus-all wearing saris. The grandmother was a striking looking woman with gray hair but the most striking thing about her was the long silver embossed scabbard with elegant and lethal looking knife held within it which was slung over her shoulder and across her sari. The bus driver didn't say a word!

  2. impressive! I am in love with the sari. And in fact, we have a Team Bengal event on Saturday ... later.

  3. A small but important amendment here ... that the Bengalis I have met are passionate and politically engaged. Abhida says that its not the case for all.