SI have been to Kolkata many times but this time the magic caught me. I had a meeting and my return flight was the next morning. So after my meeting I had enough time to explore the city as I wanted. Earlier it always used to be a family trip meeting all the folks downtown exchanging news but it was different this time as I was on my own as an outsider. And the city seemed entirely new to me. Of course seven years down the line lots of things have changed but the theme which I always imagined remained the same. I grew up watching bengali black & white movies where the plot mostly was family drama. But then it helped me understand the nature and thought of a common bengali family in its very native place. Of course being a probashi our family had adopted many cultures to fit in the bill where we resided, a kind of mixture you can say. But what Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen depicted in their films was what the original Bengali family actually is according to me. People of heart. Emotions bonding them together. Mothers have a special position always. Girls brought up like a princess and the boys like prince. I always had this notion that people in Kolkata were always contended with small things. Money, materialistic needs are not counted that much. What counted for them was art, creativity and visualization. Every person here possessed a talent in one form or other. Its a city where both rich and poor have a space to survive. Every corner here has a story to tell and every pavement is a book to read. I visited the famous Victoria Memorial and then retraced my path walking all the way to my hotel in New Market area. Throughout I clicked my camera and when I saw these pictures I could easily relate themwith one or other character of a Satyajit Ray or Mrinal Sen movie.
This magnificent building was dedicated to Queen Victoria after her death as a tribute to British Empire in India. Built in 1921 it is one of the tourist destination in Kolkata.
Just outside the Victoria memorial is the “Maidan” the stretch of green field which is the favorite spot of all the Kolkatan’s for a sunday picnic, lazing with friends or playing football. I found this guy with his mobile shop of Jhal-muri under the shade of a tree. “Jhal-muri” is an all time quick and cheap snack of the bengalis. One can enjoy the chatpatta flavor with kurkure muri anytime anywhere. The picture clearly shows the ingredients mixed and aroma to have a mouth watering taste. I remember having it many times when I went to Maidan with my folks on a winter sunday afternoon.
The picture here shows the small earthen mugs that are used for drinking tea. The smell of tea in these mugs are somewhat different from what we get in usual cups. The smell of tea blends with the smell of the earthen cup and the taste is awesome. The typical way of drinking tea in such mugs is to hold it with both your hands, feel the warmth in your palm, make a suurrrrr sound while sipping tea that ends in licking out your lips for more taste.
This is a frequent sight in Kolkata, the street food. They serve everything from dal-bhat, roti-sabji, chinese to south Indian. Fish curry and rice is very common here. You will also come across misti stalls and quick foodie stalls which are always crowded by people. They serve people of all class and position right on the pavement stall. A wooden bench or few stools on the pavement make a good sitting arrangement for these stalls.And as I said if you are least bothered about hygiene then do not miss these stalls as taste wise they are no less than any high class restaurant minus the cost.
Some are random pics that I love to share with you. I love the expression on their face. I caught these children watching another child eating ice cream. They did not tell their parents but kept looking at the other child.
This picture of “Chowringee Road” has immense story to tell. This was the first road built by The British in Kolkata. The road is witness to over hundred years of history attached to it. Today it plays a prominent role in the everyday life of Kolkata.
Throughout the length of its history, Chowringhee Road has carried an aura of prestige and heritage. Grandeur, colourfulness and importance have always been its handmaidens. To countless Kolkatans, and for most people all around the globe who are even remotely familiar with the city of joy, the singularly unique name Chowringhee is synonymous with Kolkata.
While walking down the Chowringee lane I came across people who caught my attention. They are common man yet they somehow filled my canvas with their colors.
The first picture shows two ladies gossiping while waiting for their order in the street food stall. In the second picture you see few men sitting behind the wall busy with their discussion. Being a bengali myself I know the topic would be politics or football as these two are bengali men’s favorite topic. I specially like these two pictures as they depict the favorite pass time of Bengalis – “Adda.”
This picture of an ice-cream wala and his ice cream trolley, as I would call it, shows two different worlds. The brand name “Kwality ice creams ” we all know since we first tasted anything other then feed milk. It started in 1956 to be precise. People who usually come to purchase it are mostly well dressed or to be short economically sound. But here was this man dressed in lungee and a dirty shirt sitting at ease under the street lamp post waiting for people to buy ice cream. He seems in no hurry. As if all his life he has been selling ice creams no matter what brand. For him it was just a piece of craving which people would love to pay for. He seems much older than Kwality of course. Belonging from the era of “thela ice-cream or ice candy” in his dress code which people do not prefer anymore. But I like the contrast in the picture.
Here is another picture which I like very much. The man gets his shoe polished to look smart and presentable. I am not against shoe polishing. I do it myself. But I feel concealing something with the brush. Just like women do the make up with their brush, hiding moles, wrinkles, patches etc. Here too the brush is concealing the miles this shoe must have walked, the tiredness, the agony or the failure. Everything looks new after the polish a new “attitude”. But I like the polisher as he can easily interpret a person with his shoes.
Rest of the pics are of New Market area of Kolkata. The area has a historic importance from the British Era and today is the most favorite spot for the shoppers. This clock tower is the biggest landmark here. I call it the “Big Ben of Kolkata.”
The market area and some old building in this area.
Thats about all I would share with you for Kolkata. It is”City of Joy”. The people very emotional and honest. They think with their heart not brain. Very contended with what they have and always cling on to what had been theirs. The culture still holds the same here as in Satyaji’s era. The same craziness for food and touring the world. Never miss a chance to tour this magnificent heritage city.