General ramblings

Oh Calcutta!

Puchka. Jhal Muri. Rasogolla. Tram. Metro. Rickshaw. Issshhh. Calcutta Book Fair. Park Street. Durga Pujo. Pandal hopping. Maddox Square. Aloo dum. Adda. Cha. Bengal Bandh. Mamta Banerjee. Satyajit Ray. Jhumpa Lahiri. Amartya Sen. R.D Burman. Bappi Lahiri. Mithun da. Bipasha Basu. Sushmita Sen. Phule phule dole dole. Victoria Memorial. Maidan. Chowranghee. Bada Bazaar. Salt Lake. Bhowanipur. Lake Road. Menoka Cinema. The Namesake. Devdas. Hooghly. Jyoti Basu. Pranab Bose. LK Mittal. Howrah Bridge. Second Hooghly Bridge. Theater. Plays. Football. Eden Gardens. Sourav Ganguly. The Great Bong. Humidity. Maach. Santiniketan. Rabindranath Tagore. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. City of Joy. Nandan. Indian Museum. Birla Planetarium. Race course. Writer’s Building. Mother Teresa. Missionaries of Charity. St. Paul’s Cathedral. Ramakrishna Mission. Kali Temple. Saraswati Pujo. Rabindra Sangeet. Pantua. Haldiram’s. K.C Das.

And so many other things, reasons and places to love this city. 🙂

Related Reading: The Pre-Independence Calcutta

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34 thoughts on “Oh Calcutta!

  1. @Dinsan

    Nope, not just key words. 🙂 These are some things that I really love about Calcutta. And I’ve realized the value of the city, now that I’m away from it.

    @Anirudh

    Thanks 🙂

  2. Will be in Kolkata for a couple of hours this month (changing flight).
    Any suggestions for places to visit, preferably not too far from the airport:) 🙂

    p.s. By the way, I notice you still prefer to call it Calcutta. Is it habitual, or conscious decision?

  3. I wonder what a tag cloud for calcutta would look like. Too many tags, too many colors.
    Biggest tag will be for misthi dahi 🙂
    And there is nothing like the City Center of Salk Lake in either delhi or mumbai 😦

  4. @ Ish: With your note, it is evident to all you do not live in Calcutta 🙂

    @ Ruhi: You forgot mishti-doi and kathi roll and Oxford Bookstore? 😦

  5. @Ish- (Refer to Shefaly’s comment)-Haven’t you seen Aishwarya Rai in Devdas? Isshh!
    I still use the word “Isshhh” very often, something that non-Calcuttans find very amusing. 🙂

    @Poonam- Thanks for reminding me! 🙂 I need to add that to the list. My mouth’s almost watering. And thank you for understanding “Phule phule dole dole”. Don’t know if people know about this song.

    @Bipin- You can go to City Center (Salt Lake): Huge shopping mall with some multiplexes too. 🙂 I think you can do lots of things for time pass over there. Just ask any taxi guy to take you there. And yes, I love the name “Calcutta’. It’s a habitual as well as a conscious decision.

    @Anand- Are you from Calcutta? How do you know about City Center? I don’t know much about Delhi/Bombay, but it’s weird that even Bombay doesn’t have anything like City Center? I still remember going to that mall Crossroads a very long time back.

    @Shefaly- Grave error. 🙂 I don’t know how I forgot. I need to edit my list.

  6. @ Ruhi:

    “And yes, I love the name “Calcutta’. It’s a habitual as well as a conscious decision.”

    More power to you! I refuse to call cities Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkatta, Kozhikode, Tiruvanantapuram and so on. Or for that matter, in Delhi, it is Connaught Place not Rajiv Chowk or whatever name it has been given.

    Same with roads being renamed in Calcutta – who DOES call it Shakespeare Sarani or Mother Teresa Sarani, and not Theatre Road or Park Street? Oh and did I say the house I lived in was on Wellesley Road (not Rafi Ahmed Kidwai whatever)? Anyway what did Mirza Ghalib and Ho Chi Minh have to do with Calcutta anyway?

  7. Shefaly- Add Bengaluroo (sp?) to that list too. I was browsing Google Maps and the name stared at me. 😐 “Indianisation” of names, if you will? There are so many other ways of Indianising the country, apart from mutilating historically beautiful City names.

    Same with roads being renamed in Calcutta – who DOES call it Shakespeare Sarani or Mother Teresa Sarani, and not Theatre Road or Park Street?

    I didn’t know that Park Street is known as Mother Teresa Sarani! It shows how much people like us really care about these new names. The names of cities/roads might look/sound trivial to some, but for me, they carry nostalgic value. 🙂 And they take away some shine from my life and memories when they change names so easily. Does anyone ever ask the residents of a particular street if they would like their houses to be associated with another great personality?

  8. Never been to Calcutta. The closest I have come to the city is when I was in Bhubaneshwar for my training. But I liked the way you summed up the city. Well I certainly khow about Ishhhhh after watching Devdas and I had one Bengali friend who tore apart the movie by saying that none of the charecters pronounced “Shotti” in the way it is supposed to be said. I tried a few times but she used to laugh like hell whenever I said the word. 😐

  9. Yeah, I guessed it was that Ishhhh. Obviously I’ve seen Aishwarya do that and I’ve faced a lot of flak regarding that at school too. 😛

    Good thing you still preserve your Calcutta-ness.

  10. @Ruhi

    I’m not from Calcutta but was there on Diwali of 2005. That was a completely different experience for me. Where else can you see those durga puja pandals even on Diwali?

    Even though there are so many malls in Bombay and Delhi but no one can compete with the ambiance of city center. Also the evening falls early in that part of India making it all more pleasant 🙂

    Anand, those are Kali puja pandals and not Durga Puja pandals. The durga puja pandals are much bigger, and many of them are constructed on a “theme”. There is big money involved here. The areas/puja houses actively seek sponsorship and donations. 🙂 And yes, the City Center ambience is very typical of Cal- laid back, not a care in the world, adda and lots of chai. 🙂 There is a very good tea house over there. I never ever drink tea, but I make it a point to drink a cup from that place whenever I’m in Cal. Re: the early evening, yes, I know what you’re talking about. When I shifted to Pune, I found it very difficult to adjust to the fact that there is broad daylight until 8:30 pm. 😐 Even in the US, night falls pretty late. -Ruhi

  11. @ Amit:

    Yes, I cringed every single time Ash and SRK tried to use the word “Shotti”. It was horrible. 😦 Non-calcuttans shouldn’t even try to pronounce it, seriously.

    @Ish

    Yes, I preserve it vehemently. 🙂 I’m proud of the city and its culture. And see, you’re so famous. Did you know that you have a namesake? 😉

  12. @Ruhi : I would definitely like to pronounce it correctly atleast once before I die. 😐
    Seriously. Especially after I have been laughed at. 😐 Shotti. 🙂
    @Ish : Atleast you have a lesser number of namesakes in this world. Think about me. I must be having the count in crores. 😐 God!!! I hate my name. Its so common. And how did you feel when Aishwarya took your name so many times in the movie?? Ishhhhh 😆

  13. @Amit: I didn’t feel much. I don’t like Ash, remember? Plus I didn’t really watch Devdas even though it had SRK in it. I thought it was very boring. 😛

  14. @Ish : Now you are gonna faint if I tell you that I saw the movie thrice in the theatre. 🙂 I just loved everything about it. And yes I remember now about the Ash-Ish chemistry. 🙂

  15. @ Ruhi:

    “Add Bengaluroo (sp?) to that list too.”

    Believe it or not, irrespective of what the city is called, the railway station in Bangalore always had ‘Bengaluru’ in Kannada written outside. Even before it became fashionable to ‘reclaim’ names…

    But yes, I call it Bangalore. What is in a name? etc… unless someone tries to give you a cauliflower and pass it off as a rose 😉

  16. Nope, I won’t faint. A lot of people liked Devdas and I’m pretty sure it was a nice movie. It’s just that during those times, I wasn’t into serious/historic/period films. I’ve watched Koyla twice on TV, beat that if you can! 😛

  17. @Ish : I liked Koyla. The songs were very good. 🙂 I have also seen it twice or thrice…don’t remember. Have you seen “Oh daring ye hai India”? That was the ultimate patience test. 😐

  18. @ ish:

    Oh yeah! I totally forgot about Voice of India guy. Hehe. 😛 You are a famous boy, na? Issshh! At least people of one state (West Bengal) know about you and use your name on a regular basis.

    Re: Devdas: Are you sure you didn’t like it? I think SRK was quite good in that movie. Hell, I almost cried. And I’m serious. 😐 Please don’t laugh at me.

    @Amit

    Yes, unfortunately, Amit is a very common name..but that doesn’t reduce its beauty. 🙂

    Especially after I have been laughed at. 😐 Shotti. 🙂

    Hahhaha..ROFL. That was too funny. I will also try to teach you. Shotti. And Amit, even I liked the movie somehow…I know that most people found it to be intolerable. I almost cried too. 😐 But yes, I didn’t watch it THRICE in the theater. So, you are the bigger fool?

    I couldn’t watch OH Darling Yeh Hai India though. Sorry. It was a lil too much even for me. And Koyla was BAD. Puuhhllzz. Except for one song- Tanhai tanhai tanhaaaiiii…dono ko paas le aayi 😉

    @Shefaly

    That way, people in Calcutta have also pronounced Calcutta as “Kolkata” all the time…people here love pronouncing everything with an “O” thrown in for good measure. But changing the name officially…I don’t like it somehow. 🙂

    @Bongopondit

    Saw your post. Such a lengthy (and comprehensive ) list. I wonder how long it took you to remember and write every single thing?! Commendable task. 🙂

  19. @ Ruhi:

    “… people here love pronouncing everything with an “O” thrown in for good measure.”

    You mean as in ‘Aha tumi shundori kauto, Kolkata”? 🙂

  20. You have very nicely defined our loving city Kolkata at your post…nice one. How many cities in India do have a book written on those like City of Joy

  21. @ Abhijit: This post is indeed great but unless your question was metaphorical, there is Maximum City about Bombay, and the City of Djinns about Delhi.

    I have found City of Joy a portrait in squalor and sometimes it _is_ possible to overdose on Satyajit Ray-esque depictions of life. 😦

  22. @Ruhi : Don’t even think of watching “Oh darling yeh hai India”. Its terribly horrible. And errrr somehow I liked Koyla. because of Madhuri maybe….And Devdas….I don’t know, but there was so much pain in the movie. In today’s world you can’t think of a person so madly in love that he destroys everthing around him. There was something very insane about the charecters. And on top of it Ash(Sigh!!) was there and Madhuri(Sigh!!Sigh!!) was there too. Loved it and thus I am ready to be the bigger fool. 🙂

  23. Spot on!

    Kya baat hai! 😀

    Too bad i’ve joined the party (on this post) 😉 long after its over.. Anyway… better late than never! 😉

    Oh Calcutta!

  24. Alok says:

    I am completely overwhelmed reading all you guys talk about Calcutta. I was born there (and transplanted soon after). I returned for B. Sc Honours to St. Xaviers, never finished 🙂
    But the city is dear to me. I feel the strong pull and I am unreasonably proud of all things and people associated with Calcutta (and defensive about the not-so-great stuff)
    Are Nargis, Sashi Kapoor and Russi Modi too uncool now to make the list? 🙂 I realize we can’t obviously put everybody’s name up there

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