I have not been a globe trotter. Neither my father had a transferable job which would have made me change cities and friends every 2 – 3 years. I grew up in a small suburb town of West Bengal called Chandannagore. A small humble town with a rich history and French connection (you can never find any single person from Chandannagore not speaking about its French connection).
I stayed in Pune for 4 years. My last work assignment took me there. A beautiful city with a pleasant weather, Pune brought in lots of first ‘firsts’ in my life, including fatherhood. Notable others include photography (yes I got my first DSLR in Pune), Tennis – I started playing in Pune, my first Sedan – Dzire and many many more.
I now reside in Kolkata. Came back for personal reasons after my son was born. Its 4 years now that I am a resident of Kolkata, a city I have fallen in love with.
Where do I begin? The Northern part of Kolkata is that ethnic beauty which keeps us rooted to the origin, or Central Kolkata with its European influence in architectural marvels, from when this city was once the capital of British empire in India. Centuries old buildings stand here as a witness to changing times and declared as heritage properties. I can safely say that 1 day won’t be enough to check the architectural marvels of the city. This is perhaps the only city in India which has one way roads and designed in a manner so that the traffic can glide seamlessly. From Victoria Memorial to the Town House, from Sovabazar Rajbaari to Irish Synagogues, all are architectural marvels and master pieces in their own way. If 0nly the roads were not infested with roadside hawkers, which city in India will provide you with a tram ringing bells passing by. Its so much of old European influence.
Read – How Kolkata looks during monsoon
I always wondered what drives this city and now while staying here I figured out that it is the warmth of its people. Everyone is welcome here. It is as per my opinion, the least regional city. A city where everybody is equally enthusiastic about the global economy as much as the local football league and cricket. The city which hosts perhaps the largest book fair in world also has the second largest football stadium in world and the largest in India. The passion for cricket is also equally overwhelming and watching a cricket match in the world’s 4th largest stadium is an experience in itself. The cultural heritage and openness to any form of art and culture is evident from the fact that there is a perfect harmony between indigenous culture, which starts with the first Noble laureate of India Rabindranath Tagore to jazz and western classical music. Who can forget that in 50s and 60s, the city had a night life which was parallel to none in India. The first honorary Academy award winner from India and master filmmaker – Satyajit Ray along with Writtik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen and other eminent directors have been inspiration for many many filmamkers of today. Hailed as one of the most knowledgeable audience in India and world perhaps, performing before the people of this city has been a dream for many artists. The history of this city is such that I may go on and on but there is this unique connect of this city which we cannot forget.
Read – My experience of first Eid Photoshoot in Kolkata
Its the same warmth and passion which connects the people over food. Bengali cuisine and food always had its show stopper in Rosogollas and Mishti doi for outsiders. The sweet tooth of this city is perhaps highest in sweetness quotient in the country. This is the first city in India which added potato to its biriyani but its the connect over the Kolkata Chinese food is what unites all. All irrespective of age, cast and background, unite over Kolkata Chinese or Tangra chinese. From the first chinese restaurant in Nanking in Tiretti Bazar, which also offers Chinese breakfast (it starts at 6 in the morning where local chinese population offer various home made items which end by 8 am) to numerous outlets in Tangra- the china town, chinese food has its own place amongst the residents of Kolkata. One can find numerous Chinese joints in the city. One can grab a chinese meal, which is moderately decent in quality at any point of time in Kolkata. From the smallest of the kiosk to the star rated restaurants, almost everyone has footprints of chinese delicacies in their menu. It took me sometime to gather that the Hakka chow chow ( which is popularly being sold almost everywhere) is actually named so because this is a descendant of originally hakka chinese cuisine. So what is Tangra chinese? Its more of an Indianized version of the Hakka cuisine, but more spiced up. Tangra chinese has connected the city in more ways than one. From the Top restaurants to the roadside stalls, today tangra chinese is a brand name in itself.
The city was an alluring, mysterious matured ravishing lady during my growing up years, when once in a while I used to visit with my parents. I was a shy, less confident person who would always sigh and secretly nurse a crush for her. Its a little different now. Today I romance her.
Here are some of the glimpses of Kolkata through my lens .
I wrote this post for Zonal contest by Indiblogger for Tata Motors #Madeofgreat