And so I am off to Kolkata. I have been saying the word over and over to myself as I tend to do when I am excited about a place I am visiting. I am experiencing something akin to sensory overload as I think about Kolkata and all that it means to me. As is always the case in such scenarios, I am disengaged from what Kolkata really is. I was there last as a five year old child. And this disencumberance from real experience is interesting for it allows me to create my expectations based around all the bits of history I am fond of and my cultural inheritance. Romantic stuff to be sure.

And now Kolkata, and I am going to sound like a real pseud I warn you, keeps bringing me back to Amitav Ghosh. And in particular his book The Glass Palace. I have found my own little angle in there about diasporic experience - those of you who are regular readers will know that I am doing a project about the bangladeshi diaspora. I can’t think of any other author who has managed to reveal so much about diasporic experience (pls let me know if you do), and in this book with the backdrop of empire and freedom - from the old Raj in Burma to the contemporary United States. If you want to flick through the book before you decide to read it, read the section (12-4) where Rajkumar loses his mother on a boat to Chittagong. That passage brings home the essential diasporic experience - the desire to survive and to create one’s destiny.