Welcome to Kolkata. Welcome to the city of Joy.
Though I belong to that city in the true sense and can trace my ancestral routes to that city, I have never really stayed there for too long at a stretch. For that matter, I have never stayed for too long in any one city. I have been on the move ever since I remember, like a gypsy in the search of new abodes but strangely I have always had an abstract fascination to that city. It akin to the fascination that attraction that a child had to the moon shimmering in all its glory in the sky…though that moon has its own dark spots!
Every time I have been to that city, I have discovered something new. My latest discovery was a fairy. She is beautiful in the very sense of the word. But that is an entirely different topic and I shall now come back to the subject at hand.
Kolkata. This city has had its share of ups and downs. From the capital of the country during the colonial rule of Great Britain, it has now been reduced to the status of a city in shambles. Though, in its true sense, the city is growing in leaps and bounds but the image of this city lies tainted forever. Sad but true. It now has the stature of a city that is laid back and still basks in the glorious past. And this I am saying at the risk of attracting the ire of those who are in love with the city. I too, am somewhere in love with it but I guess the long period of separation has left me more susceptible to noticing the flaws.
Let me tell you about Kolkata today. It is a city like any other buzzing metropolitan with an active day and night life. On one hand is the metro rail which transports people at tremendous speed and on the other hand there is the tram which runs on rails laid out on the road and as a result is painfully slow. It is more like a reminder of the times when leisure was not such a precious commodity. On one hand are the gigantic buildings from the Victorian ages and on the other, there are towering skyscrapers. The air of the city is friendly and due to the ceaseless influx of people, it has developed a sense of acceptance to people of all races, casts and creeds. The weather is humid most of the year and though in the summers it isn’t very hot in terms of the temperature, the sweat can get to you. Winters however, are pleasant. Rains leave the city drenched in water, sand and sometimes…grime. But the city is beautiful nevertheless.
One distinctive trait of the city however is the food. It is amazing how inexpensive the food is! Remember, it is inexpensive but not cheap. Quality reigns supreme.
Infinite variety presents itself to the palate. The only hitch is that predominantly, the food is non vegetarian. So, for absolute carnivores like me, it is paradise. But for the ones who love animals it is a little difficult. Though, most dishes now have vegetarian avatars so survival doesn’t translate into a question mark.
There are restaurants on Park Street which are exorbitantly high priced and at the same time, food stalls and smaller eateries. The difference is the ambience. And coming to sweets, it is heaven for a person with a sweet tooth. The array available is mind boggling.
Specially the Roshogollas, Sandesh, sweetened curd and in the quick snacks, it is the Phhuchkas, Egg Rolls, Churmur and Jhaal Muri that stand apart.
Basically, in spite of the shortcomings, there are certain things that are nice about the city. So then, pay it a visit once when you want to go on a vacation. I guess you will like it!
See you there then.