Kolkata – A Memoir

GuptaThis is a Guest post by Yatin Gupta. Yatin is an avid reader, passionate tweeter and a frequent blogger who reviews books.

 If there is a Nobel in “Bakchodi” he deserves it for sure.

It’s been almost 3 years since I have visited the city of joy, Kolkata. I didn’t get much time to explore the city back then because I went there for a friend’s wedding. Excitement was at its peak because it was a Bengali wedding and that too in Bangla land. A friend whom I met on Orkut first and then ended up being friends for life was getting married.

The journey from Delhi to Kolkata was a comfortable one thanks to Rajdhani Express. It took nearly 16 hours to reach Howrah station and once I deboarded, the stench of fishes filled my nose. That was the sign I have reached Kolkata. I felt welcome to this city, which lives in the present but has its roots in history. I had about 4 days to explore as I reached Kolkata on the wedding day itself.

kolkata

The expedition across the town began with Alipore; I first heard of the place in a Chetan Bhagat novel (I am mentioning Chetan Bhagat here to tease Agnivo, because he hates him to the core). I took a yellow taxi, the signature symbol of Kolkata, and asked the driver to show me around on our way, even if detours are required. I got to see Howrah bridge, Victoria Memorial, Eden Garden, Race Course. It was in Kolkata, where I first saw ladies filling petrol in vehicles at a petrol pump.

The wedding ceremony took place in Chandannagar, some 100 odd km from Kolkata. A small town, Chandannagar, was all lush green, bristling with some Portuguese colonies, an old church and the mighty river Ganga, or Hooghly as Bengalis call it, flowing on its side.

KolkataThe entire wedding procession was smooth and something worth remembering for the rest of my life. The concept of having some real close people with you on the most important day of your life is what I liked about Bengali weddings. There were a few family members and really important friends from both the sides. I felt so important. The hospitality was great and the food was awesome. The wedding ceremony was small unlike what we have here in Northern India with so much revelry, show-off and atrocious amount of money being spent to impress people who don’t matter the bride or the groom.

Post wedding night (Basor) was spent with the bride and the groom, drinking, chatting, playing cards as we were supposed to stay back for the Bidaai for the next day. The next morning, we decided to explore Chandannagar. Boudi’s uncle was extremely keen on showing us around and we decided to walk around the town. We clicked numerous pictures and experienced the calmness and the peace that the place offered. The church was one of the finest examples of architecture that I have seen in my life. Later that day, the Bidaai ceremony took place and we were on our way to Kolkata clicking pictures, chatting and sharing the experience with my friend’s dad.

Once we were back, it was Kaal Ratri for my friend, where he and Boudi were not supposed to share the same room. It was one helluva ritual. He was thrown out of the house and was supposed to stay outside the whole night. That is when we planned to experience Kolkata. We took a taxi to Esplanade and walked around. We were searching for a bar and I don’t exactly remember how but we landed up at Roxy cinemas and bar. I faintly remember, we were taking services of Google Maps installed on a friend’s Nokia E71 and that was the nearest option available. The moment we open the gate of the bar, we saw ladies dancing and smoke hovering around the whole place. We got scared like shit and ran away.

Instead, we decided to spend the time at the Hotel Park, on Park Street. During the course, we tried Phuchkas (Gol Gappe, as we call it here and Paani Poori as they call in Mumbai), some bhelpuri and some fried food. The best part of it all was that all this happened at around midnight, yet the city seemed alive like it was evening. We tried our hands at some night photography, got all sloshed, came back to our service apartment and slept.

ramkrishna mission

The next morning, we decided to go to Liluah, another town, about 50 km away from Kolkata, to meet the Mr. Uday Bhan Singhji. He holds the record of having highest number of jeeps with him. His whole place was full of jeeps. Some in working condition that left me and my friends drooling. You could spot jeeps in every corner of the area where his house is built. It was an absolute honour to have lunch with him. Also, in the evening, he took us for a jeep ride to a Ramakrishna Mission Temple. The ride was fantastic and the temple was again a beautiful architecture. I absolutely loved it.

KolkataThen on our way back, we faced massive traffic jam, all thanks to Kolkata’s narrow streets and the disorder the people are already used to. But there was order in the chaos – something I loved about the city. The wedding reception was scheduled that evening and we reached the venue extremely late. We dressed up hurriedly and attended the reception, again some great food with some great company. Next morning, I had to leave for my college in Allahabad.

I requested uncle to drop me to till Howrah station and asked him to show me around on our way. He graced my request and showed me the architecture of the colonial era, their beauty heightened by the taxis swarming around on the roads, the trams, metro stations and much more. It felt like we are in some other era. He narrated the history behind each and every thing. We took the Howrah bridge and finally reached the station and then I had the worst train journey of my life.

Well, that was in short my experience in Kolkata. I intend to visit the city again and experience it. I want Agnivo to show me around because he is like a walking-talking encyclopedia of Bengal (He likes to call West Bengal as Bengal, so be it). Hope my wish comes true soon. May be later this year, as I have been invited to another wedding there!🙂

DISCLAIMER – All Images Used In This Post Have Their Respective Copyrights.

About Agnivo Niyogi

Typical Aantel, reader, blogger, news addict, opinionated. Digital media enthusiast. Didi fanboi. Joy Bangla!

Posted on October 26, 2012, in kolkata and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Thank you so much for posting it here Agnivo.🙂

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  2. Well written and thanks for mentioning my place i.e. Liluah,

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  3. Liluah 50 kms😛 ….. n don wry now traffic conditions are better than before…
    and yes u may get chance to visit Cuttack as well😛

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  4. Enjoyed reading Yatin’s post, for (1) part of it has a Chandannagar setting, barely 15 km from the town in which I’d passed over four decades, and (2) it gives an alien’s view of Calcutta, Bengal and Bong culture – bird’s eye though.
    I agree with Agnibha’s (that’s how it should be spelt for there’s no dento-labial ‘v’ in Bengali, nor is the final vowel an ‘o’) dislike of the johnny-come-lately Chetan Bhagat.
    There are a few minor corrections though…
    DISTANCES: Calcutta-Chandannagar distance by road is about half that of the 100 km mentioned, and Calcutta-Liluah is no more than 20 km. I agree with Yatin that distances on Bengal roads ‘feel’ that much longer to a northerner who’s used to far better and less crowded roads.
    GEOGRAPHY: The picture is that of an edifice better known as Belur Math, a sister organisation of the well-known Ramkrishna Mission. Belur is a town neighbouring Liluah but separate nevertheless.
    Thanks again for the naturalness and unpretentious post.

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  5. Yeah, that’s Belur Math, on the other side of Dakshineshwar temple. On the other hand, straight-from-the-heart and unpretentious. Lovely read🙂

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  6. awesome brother!! its like everything started happening again…awesome days..awesome time spent with you ppl.. even though it was just 4 days trip with u guys but .. those were the best of the best days of my life!!! all that stuff .. u had to eat because of us😛.. since then i’ve been there like twice n trust me each time i go there ..its like a whole new side of it. u njoy bro and …u made my day with this post of yours. Thanks bro!!

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  7. Thanks for the lovely feedback guys!🙂 I am glad you enjoyed reading this one!🙂 Thanks Agnivo, once again to giving me a space on his blog!🙂

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  8. Brings back memories!! But why no mention of the Zebra stripes??😉

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  9. @Agnivo : Vijay and Vaibhav, both of them were there with me in Kolkata in this trip!🙂

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