What Kolkata meant to me....

November 13, 2009

Amrita Bazar and Ananda Bazar Patrika …and of course the prim-and-propah Statesman…all delivered by flight to upper-floor flats, rolled up and thrown with practiced wrists, by cycling delivery boys

A well-maintained and run Zoo

"Gay" restaurant on the Hooghly; watching tidal bores without ever having heard of the tsunami The sound of shAnkh (conches) blowing in the twilight Men washing the streets in the early morning with large leather hoses that arched the Hooghly water across the streets and pavements Bengali women massaging the children with mustard oil....and the women's lustrous long tresses...left loose always...the alta on married women's feet Flury's pastries and Nizam's marzipan Bodo Din (Burra Din...Christmas) at New Market Bargaining at the shops on Rash Behari Avenue Swans in Lily Pool Park Teaching in Svarna and then in Ashok Hall Movies at the Metro and the Lighthouse....children's movies with free masks and sweets at the Globe Trams Bus no. 9 and Sardarji bus no. 47A Svarna school and the majestic mansion it's still located in Watching friends' romances bloom..and then fade...at Victoria Memorial, while I studied at Gokhale Memorial College Carnatic music concerts at Thyagaraja Hall, Tamizh Sangham, Music Circle (vyayamghar hall )...and so many other locations Kopir singhAdA and bhaadEr chA in the winter sunlight Hot ghughni or "chop" in the college canteen..in stitched leaf cups Dakshineswar and Belur...one noisy, one serene...on the Hooghly...crossing the Bally Bridge puchka on Southern Avenue buying sarees during Pujo at Rash Behari Mod or Gariahat Muddy River and fierce Kali at Kalighat...the puja vessels and shaankh and polA bangles in the shops Beautiful CESC properties in the suburbs of the city Victoria Memorial and the Maidan Severe power cuts The sound of unceasing rain in the monsoon, and the floods The beautiful Pujo floating on Poddo Pukur Lake Old, decaying mansions Mallick Palace...so many treasures Sthol poddo flowers the albino twins who ran a crockery shop in New Market...."dry fruits" (especially salted pistachios and huge figs strung together...from a shop run by an Afghan Oxford Lending Library, run by Anglo-Indian twins..Wonderful books Bengali literature...Ananda Math Wonderful Bengali movies..the heyday of not just Satyajit Ray...but others, like Ritwik Ghatak Star Theatre...not knowing about Noti Binodini but in love with the theatre The thrill of getting a University rank...never shared with the family, who did not come for the special felicitation the college gave me Leading the successful strike in college against "shAdA shADi lAl pAtth" (white sarees with red borders..it was a uniform and newly-married women had trouble as they were NOT meant to wear white sarees)...the management was amazed that their Head Girl, the most studious one, was doing this! I believed in freedom of choice then...and now Poila Boisakh and bAyeeshEr srAbON Learning Robindro Songeet from a geography teacher Incredible varieties of sondesh...friend's home-made mAlpoA...all Bong sweets at Ganguram's and Sen Mahashay Lake Market ...vegetables, fish Nobel Medical Hall Prema Vilas and Ramakrisha Lunch Home and when I was older, Trinca's.... Chinatown and incredibly good leather goods Only one Howrah bridge, and the beautiful ferries plying...severe traffic jams on the bridge Cheap taxis...cheerful and friendly Bihari rickshaw pullers who let me taste their "sattu"

Oh…this list will never end….