Still Alive

Hello. It’s Tuesday, December the 29th, 6:47 pm. Ever since I wrote my first blog post I have made seven attempts to follow it up. I haven’t seen or heard from X in four days. I also haven’t touched any substances in four days. I think sobriety has done me a lot of good, even though the nicotine withdrawal is awful.
The circles under my eyes are at least two shades darker, I have a fresh bruise on my cheek right above where I cut myself shaving, and one of my toenails is cracked down the middle, making is awfully difficult for me to walk. You do tend to get a little roughed up when you’re away from home. I’m on vacation.
Calcutta was officially renamed Kolkata in 2001. Here on I’m going to address it as ‘this city’. This city isn’t really that much different from home except for the fact that it seems adamant on not letting you forget for a single moment that it is alive and has a personality of its own. This city is teeming with culture, something home (being a place that exists solely to provide jobs for people who can’t find one where they live) lacks. The people here love to smoke. The air itself seems to have turned to smoke, half ash. You can step out and end up passively smoking a cigarette’s worth of tobacco.  I smelt marijuana thrice in busy, crowded places. The streets are lined with shops selling pipes, bongs, cigarettes, lighters, all forms of drug paraphernalia. Every once in a while someone stumbles along beside you, reeking of alcohol. She had lived here for four years. She says the people here enjoy their cultural richness with a side of vices.
Someone asks me something. I move my lips without making a sound. He nods. That’s how zoned out I feel.
College Street is known to be the hub of knowledge, sold for cheap. The place doesn’t really feel like somewhere books are sold. The shopkeepers state prices. The customers haggle. The shopkeepers cave a little. They meet each other halfway. The shopkeepers keep yelling to get the attention of the people. It can be a little frustrating. Hundreds of voices asking you what kind of books you are looking for. I nearly snapped at a few of them. Eventually, it can begin to make you feel a little uncomfortable. It’s like walking down a prison aisle where the convicts are reaching out to you. The voices feel like coarse, callused hands. Pulling at your hair. Clawing at your face. Grabbing you by your ankle.
Don’t listen to me. I’m just crabby and this city is a wonderful place. Lots of people say so.

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