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I want to make my usual excuses about not blogging – too much work, too little time, writing is a high intense activity and am not upto it after a long day of work, socialising, reading, watching series and gym. Something will fall off the rails, for now it is blogging.

Last week was the Kolkata International Film Festival week in the city and it was quite an experience. My team member A was telling me everything Kolkata has to offer. He mentioned Nandan, a theatre close to my workplace, which screens art house movies. His sister worked on the brochure for KIFF and he arranged for a delegate pass. This was quite helpful because apart from the schedule, the website had no other details.

On the first day of KIFF, I walked to Nandan in my lunch break to enquire. The entire place was strung up with streamers and very lively. I walked up to two gentlemen, one middle aged and another in his 20s and asked them

Me – Where do I book the tickets for the movies?

Them – You just need the pass. Stand in that queue for the pass.

Me – I have a pass

Them – Then you can just walk into a movie

Me – I can walk into any movie without booking? What if there are more people and less number of seats? How much does the pass cost?

Them – The pass is free. Where are you coming from? trying not to laugh

Me (sheepishly) – Mumbai. Anyway, thank you.

At MAMI, you have to buy a pass (cost reduced from Rs 1700 to Rs 500) and book movies (for free) online a day in advance. For walk ins, you need to queue up 2 hours earlier.

But at KIFF, everything is free. The government organizes the event and around 10 theatres screen movies- international and Indian, for 7 days at specific schedules. While people did queue up an hour in advance, everyone got seats. The advantage of living in a city nobody is migrating too. People who have left Kolkata don’t want to return to the city and outsiders have zero interest in moving here. As someone who has spent 7+ years in Mumbai, a city with an infrastructure that can support the population is just mind boggling. And a government that can afford to spend on an event for cinephiles is astonishing. I am sure there are other cultural events organized by the government here.

Am not sure what it is people detest about the city. The food is great, weather is better than Mumbai, househelp is very affordable and a cook can actually cook instead of just pretending to. Not understanding Bengali is a big advantage at work because I can pretend to be oblivious to the gossip. Sure, the Bengali does get to me after a long day and I crave for conversations with non Bongs but those moments are infrequent.

Ciao. I promise to blog more often next week.

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