Thursday, July 11, 2019

Being-in-the Bars: - Construction of Everyday Social Reality in two Spaces of Consumptions

Kaleidoscope is fortunate enough to have a gang of like minded people in an otherwise monotonous built-in-city. He is grabbing almost every opportunity to explore the length and breadth of the built-in-city and penetrating inside the old city which is yet to be explored and known. Such an experience questions his very foundational assumption of the being-in-the-world. 


In order to be as a being in the world, Kaleidoscope's peculiar species makes constant decisions regarding the patterns of interaction and interface with the 'others'. The other includes most conspicuously the fellow species members but it is not limited to it solely. With their constant action and interaction they become being in - this being in is constantly shifting and never settled. This constant critical being in happens to be explained by Heidegger in his 1962 famous work being and time beautifully!

Such being in is part of the constant world building process through which Kaldeidoscope and his fellow species members continuously pass through and it is an ongoing public discourse. Humans respond to objects according to their perception of its meaning which arises from negotiated social interaction (Blumer 1969 Symbolic Interactionism).

The built-in city and stereotypical bars

As Kaleidoscope is now transferred to one of the close to the colonial capital colleges in a built-in environment he often explores the planned and plaza like 'expensive' places. It includes the malls nearby and some of the finest bars which offers some of the finest flavours of the world! He remembers, once one of his very close relatives after having a drink in Country Roads bar - the place where Kaleidoscope often grabs his drinks commented 'it feels like home." Yes, it gave him the feel of Scotland - his present home. These are the places where people from upwardly mobile middle classes come after office, grab a rounds of drinks, eat wonderful mouthwatering foods pay no attention to the increasingly loud music and then leave. These are the bars that play the IPL matches on giant screens, keep the light dimmed and allow some private moment even within the public space. Kaleidoscope has seen couples looking at each other deeply for long pauses, holding each others, hugging and kissing under the loud music, a mix of alcoholic-foodie-perfumy-bodily-smoky ambiance. It allows a transcendence of boundaries between bodies and the world as both of them slowly sleep deep inside the darkness and increasingly loud music. There is hardly any cross table exchange of glances or words. You have options for high chairs to make yourself visible, privy sofas at corners and open sofas on the high raised dais. The three certain places together form the uncertain space. People can definitely project themselves on the high chair or can form a gang like appearance on the conspicuous sofas on dais or sleep into the privacy in the comfortable sofas. Kaleidoscope remembers on several occasions they sat on the sofas of the dais - the middle range space. Whenever he visited with just one friend they choose the privy sofas.

The typical stereotypic space that one can find in the posh park street or perhaps at many places of the world gets reproduced in the built-in city of New Town Kolkata.

The formal inside story of country roads

The radical bars of the old city: 

Kaleidoscope moves on to find relatively cheap places to drink whenever he manages to go to the old colonial city. While he wrote exclusively on the Apolitical bar in a blogpost he was fortunate enough to spend hours in perhaps one of the oldest and arguably the cheapest bar of the city named as Saw's.

Shaw brothers offer you an extraordinary large hall of a masculine space which is filled with numerous chairs and tables . the style of the furniture represents that of a previous century. The staff wearing traditional waiter dresses having brass badges will take you to the past. Shaw brothers does not allow you to keep your belongings on any of the chairs and radically brings people closer. You can have your table but you can see that there will be other people occupying your table as well. You can talk to them, argue, even share your food and drinks with a complete stranger.

Kaleidoscope was amazed with the enormous shape and size of the bar which looks exactly like a running market where people are actually in a hurry to have food and drink! But they are not. None of the consumers are in a hurry and the space no matter how fleeting it appears is comfortably settled in itself. As they ordered the waiter demanded the money - yes, its prepaid. What about food? Kaleidoscope was even more astonished - there are running hawker like waiters who will bring your food from outside. They are part of the famous delicious street foods of Kolkata. The variety will knock you out. You can have Alu-Kabli (a boiled potato snack) to Panir Tikka in veg and Fish fingers to mutton liver curry and plain fish fries including that of tiny fishes. All in unthinkably low price. The liquor you order are served at the lowest rate in the town. You can go outside to smoke where a couple of sellers are standing with all international and local brands of cigarettes, cigars and hookahs. You can buy single piece of 555 or Dunhil which is otherwise unthinkable in Kolkata.

Crowd is equally interesting. Its a microcosm of the vibrant Kolkata. Kaleidoscope could see people drinking alone at different corners, aged and suited officer-looking people in groups, college students, research scholars, and small businessmen radically challenging every boundaries that human species proudly reproduces in their everyday lives.

The entire space challenges the boundaries between formal and informal economy, class divisions, divisions of inside outside spaces and gives a carnivalesque appearances.
The masculine space inside

The three glasses with three shots of white mischief came on top of each others carried by a juggling waiter. No hanky panky glasses. It's straight and questions the capitalist dimension of unequalising nature often manifested in different kinds of glasses for different types of beverages

The smokers den immediately outside the space

Street food at your table and the boundaries are radically challenged

Consumers intersubjectivity:

While the consumers - the living human elements are always fleeting both the spaces that minutely alters the patterns of being-in of the bars, the broad categorisation remains the same. The built-in bar is formal, restricting and excluded space from the outside world. While even being a confined space the Shaw brothers doors are hardly closed ever. Its almost always swinging with the outside informal world stepping in and the inside liminal and uncertain formalinformal world is stepping out. The careers of street foods or the alcohol serving waiters are the agents of the radical and juxtaposed existence. Kaleidoscope could understand why G H Mead found material culture as a collapsed act bearing a sign of completion that is never complete. Thus while Shaw's door keeps moving as the agents goes out and steps in and Country Road's automated sliding door formally opens with a heavy blower creating curtain of airconditioned air flow it fixes the two radically different experiences. Like Tuan (1980 The Significance of the Artifact) notes material culture fixes our experiences much in the similar manner in which text fixes discourses.

Kaleidoscope can however, enjoy the radically free flowing growth of the material surrounding in his imagination and in his subsequent visits. Its getting built up every moment and then falling flat everytime like his own name - Kaleidoscopic!

Since, now Kaleidoscope is more conscious regarding his being-in the stereotypic late capital bars as on stage, and in those radical bars are off stage, next best thing would be to bring the off stage self inside the stereotypic bars to see if the world cares!

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