Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Religious Extortion

What does one do after an impromptu meal of chicken nuggets, fries, a Zinger burger, fried chicken, coke, strawberry shake, brownie with ice-cream and a chocolate cake filled with molten chocolate? Sleep blissfully, you say?

Well, how about getting rudely awakened by a bunch of hooligans who demand chanda?

Kali Puja is around the corner. For the uninitiated, Kali Puja takes place around the same time as Diwali (in fact, this year the two coincide), and is bigger than Diwali for Bengalis. People from “clubs” that organize pujas go around collecting money from residents of the neighborhood to fund the puja. ‘Extorting’ money would be a more appropriate term because that’s what they do! They demand money from you rather than requesting, and threaten you if you don’t acquiesce. They can make your life hell if you refuse to give them money and sometimes even beat people up!

I hate giving chanda. I am not a religious person and I hate people imposing their religious beliefs on me. By all means, organize pujas if it makes you happy but don’t force me to take part in it, either in person or by contributing towards it financially or in any other form. If I respect your sentiments and am willing to put up with the nuisance you create by blocking roads leading to horrible traffic snarls & playing music at the loudest volume till 2 in the night, you too need to respect my sentiments & leave me the hell alone!

The worst thing about these people is that they won’t graciously accept what you give them. The people who came to my place demanded 1200 rupees. After haggling with them for approx. 20 minutes, they settled for 500. This is utter nonsense. Even complaining to the police is of no help. So, one has no option but to give in to their unrealistic demands. I feel victimized. Honestly, I don’t like Calcutta one bit and my dislike of the city gets stronger with every passing day. Don't ask me why I decided to move to Calcutta in the first place. That's an entirely different story.

3 comments:

The knife said...

the more things change....this ued to be a big menace in the 80s

Haddock said...

They make their rounds at residential places? I thought only shop keepers were effected by these vargani (chanda) thing.
And come to think of it why should they too be harassed ?

Scarlett said...

@The Knife - I think Calcuttans live in a time warp. The city has certainly developed a lot compared to, say ten years ago. But the people remain back dated. No offense, it's just my observation.

@Haddock - In Calcutta they do. There are goons in every neighborhood who organize huge pujas & they collect chanda from all the residents of the neighborhood. They'll make your life hell if you don't give them money.