Kolkata Kaleidoscope

From Personal Achives

In the modern day of urbanization, most of the modern cities in India love to call themselves cosmopolitan and not just mere cities thriving around the periphery of an Indian state. Tell someone who lives in Mumbai that he lives in a Maharastrian city; he will immediately correct you as being a cosmopolitan. The same goes with people living in other parts of the country.

 Not the case with Calcutta. The city is essentially Bengali and leaves no stones unturned to preserve the Bengali culture. Surprisingly, people living in Bengal are proud about the fact that Calcutta hasn’t lost its old world charm. If you delve deep into it, you’ll find that the city’s weaknesses and strengths that echo a unique Bengali character.

From Personal Achives

The city has its own drawbacks, from the sudden bouts of passion through cheerful pandemonium to fiery reaction to a smallest provocation.  However, these flaws are strengths in disguise.  Calcutta incarnates the Bangalee love in the name of culture, the triumph of intellectualism over avarice, the warmth among people, disdain with which hypocrisy and insincerity are treated and the supremacy of emotion over all other aspects.

This gives ‘the city of joy’ uniqueness and it is not meant for everyone. You want your city green and clean; go to Delhi. You want your city to be impersonal and rich, stick to Mumbai. You want your city to be hi-tech – Bangalore is the answer. But you want a city which has soul – come to Kolkata.

Calcutta grows on you.  It’s just not the lush Maidan, the grandeur of Victoria Memorial, the hustle-bustle of Burrabazar or the brilliance of second Hoogly Bridge. It is more than the usual bricks and mortars; it’s about the ‘people’. And no one can replicate the essence of the city’s dwellers.

From Personal Achives
Calcutta is about subtle emotions, art, culture, passion and ideas. Here, people don’t talk about stock market, but about the latest political gossip reported on a newspaper. They talk about Robi Thakur and Mamata Banerjee with the same exuberance. Each evening,  a true-blood Bengali will want fish on his table, his children will be encouraged to take up a new form of art, he will appreciate good book – something that still bind every Bangalee with his culture. For him, religion and culture will be in inextricably bound together.

From Personal Achives
Talking about religion, tell anyone about Pujo in Kolkata and they’ll scoff. Puja is religious they’ll say. Contrary to the belief, the world-famous Durga puja is just not about chanting hymns or worshipping the Goddess. It’s about the varied emotions of the city – like a grand carnival. It has little to do with meaningless ritual or sinister political activity. The essence of Puja is that all the passions of Bengal converge: emotion, culture, the love of life, the warmth of being together, the joy of celebration, the pride inartistic expression and yes, the cult of the goddess. There’s no place you’ll find where children cry on Dashimi as Maa Durga bids farewell to the lesser mortals. Where else would the whole city gooseflesh when the dhakis first begin to beat their drums? Which other Indian festival - in any part of the country - is so much about food and pandal hopping?

To understand Calcutta, you need to understand the very essence of Bangla.  It’s not easy, but as time goes by you start falling in love with the city. And after a while, you’ll realise that the city has stolen your soul. Wherever you go, you’ll carry a bit of the ‘city of joy’ with you. Such is the essence of Calcutta – a feeling that never fades away!


piyali dasgupta said...

Amazing post and great pics! (y)

The Mortician said...

Thank you :)

Trisha said...

I feel the same way. Your write up echos my feelings about the city. Amazing work. Keep writing!

The Mortician said...

Thanks for encouraging :)