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Agit-prop tourism

columns Updated: Nov 08, 2009 02:38 IST
Manas Chakravarty
Manas Chakravarty
Hindustan Times
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We at Political Tours Ltd bring you an absolutely unique experience, an amazing once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Come join us for an unforgettable action-packed holiday. Here’s the itinerary for our Kolkata political tour:

Day 1: On arrival at the airport, our luxury coach will take you to that part of the city where they are burning buses. This will enable you to immerse yourself immediately into the city’s vibrant culture of protest. Tourists will be encouraged to participate by throwing stones at passing vehicles, especially those of other tour operators. We provide the stones free, but guests who want kerosene to pour on the fires will have to buy it at a nominal rate. Cute tin hats will also be provided. After a couple of hours of mayhem, guests will be transported to their hotels for lunch and a siesta. The evening will be devoted to shopping. Laughing Buddhadeb and Mad Mamata paperweights, mugs and key chains are available at a discount.

Day 2: We will spend the day marching in protest. Guests will be given the necessary placards, flags and a list of slogans to shout. While mineral water will be served en route, beer and straw hats are extra. Tourists can hop back into the air-conditioned coach following them at a discreet distance should they get tired. When the marchers arrive at the Grand Hotel, we will adjourn there for lunch. After a refreshing swim, we will join the evening marches. These are much more fun, because they disrupt traffic just when people are going back home from their offices.

Day 3: Tourists will be taken to the scene of a clash between Trinamool Congress and CPI(M) workers. We make instant arrangements with house-owners to get the best rooftop viewing positions. For those not content to be mere spectators, we provide pipe guns and bombs for a small fee. For an extra payment, we will arrange a visit to a clash in the countryside, where tourists may get the additional thrill of watching a police station being burnt.

Day 4: Today our guests will interview Maoist leader Kishenji. Please note you are only allowed to photograph the back of his head, which is usually wrapped in a towel. We understand he’s been ordering designer towels for the purpose these days, so the photos don’t look too bad. He’s also very busy giving interviews, so keep the meeting short and do not ask him questions like which brand of deodorant he uses. Please note that we supply authentic Maoists, unlike a competing tour operator, whose owner wraps his head in a towel and pretends to be Kishenji. You could also buy medallions showing the back of Kishenji’s head as a souvenir.

Day 5: Our first stop will be at a gherao, an ancient art form that is unfortunately dying out. Next, we shall take you to a political rally. If the speeches get too dull, adjourn to K.C. Das’s sweet shop for rossogollas. But Mamata Banerjee’s speeches are invariably value for money. On your way back to the hotel, we take in a ‘rasta roko’, where guests can erect barricades and deflate car tyres.

Day 6: We take you on a walking tour of that part of the city where a bandh has been declared. The lucky ones might even get to see a Bangla Bandh, although unfortunately politics hasn’t yet evolved to the point where we can have a Bangla Bandh every week. But we’re lobbying hard for it.

The views expressed by the author are personal