Place to visit in India: Oh Calcutta!

by Surya Bhattacharya.


No, non Kolkata… Calcutta.

You can’t love Calcutta if yous alone experience it through your eyes or your nose. You love Calcutta when yous experience it amongst your heart.

I felt something dissimilar when I was wandering aimlessly through Calcutta’s streets this time. Here I was, inwards the metropolis I thus passionately claimed to hate. I hated it thus much, inwards fact, that I decided to become for a walk to kill time… There was never anything to do! But suddenly, everything that I had e'er made fun of started making sense to me. Did I alter or did the metropolis change?

t love Calcutta if yous alone experience it through your eyes or your olfactory organ Place to visit in India: Oh Calcutta!
Kolata on the Hooghly River past times ArijeetB (Flickr Creative Commons)
There went an Aunty inwards the typical Bengali avatar- sari in addition to a sleeveless blouse. I remembered why I e'er made fun of their wearing clothing (Only Bengali women from Calcutta tin habiliment sleeveless blouses amongst their arm fatty jiggling all over the place!). But I couldn’t retrieve why I flora it thus funny.

I went upward to aforementioned Aunty in addition to asked her for some generic directions. She stopped, looked at me in addition to smiled. She gently placed her mitt on my arm, turned me to human face upward the correct management in addition to patiently explained the means to me. Her elderly married adult man stood smiling past times her side, waiting for her to finish, shopping bags inwards hand. They asked me where I was from, why I was randomly walking around, in addition to a host of other questions- a trait I used to notice supremely annoying inwards the past. This time, however, something else shone through. I could run across the innocent curiosity of a generation of people who had grown upward indulging inwards a sort of community feeling that I had never experienced, in addition to in all likelihood never will.

I run across it every fourth dimension I catch my aunt’s place. The plump adult woman adjacent door e'er stands exterior her gate in addition to stares at us whenever nosotros receive got a conversation anywhere inwards the vicinity. Nosy, sure, but I haven’t seen that sort of unabashed, in addition to strangely endearing, nosiness anywhere else.

One for sure traffic police officer I asked for directions was thus concerned near my determination to walk around, that he starting fourth dimension tried to notice out why I’m non inwards my ain car, thus tried to convince me to purpose world transport, thus gave me tips on how to avoid getting run over past times traffic, in addition to finally sent me on my way, marveling at my energy, later I assured him I’d alone inquire policemen for assist If I needed any.

Then at that topographic point was the human who was trying to create total his H2O bottle from a mitt pump. Near impossible task- he was pumping, running to create total the bottle amongst a few drops, running dorsum to pump in addition to thus on. It would receive got forever. Already starting to autumn inwards love amongst the city, I decided to assist him out in addition to offered to check his bottle piece he pumped. I don’t intend I’d ever create that inwards Delhi.

Calcutta cares.

t love Calcutta if yous alone experience it through your eyes or your olfactory organ Place to visit in India: Oh Calcutta!
Calcutta past times Leonid Plotkin (Flickr Creative Commons)
I visited some relatives in addition to friends on my way. Each ane looked delighted at my unexpected presence. I stopped past times at a bang-up aunt’s house. She was napping. When she woke upward in addition to saw me, she jumped out of bed, threw her arms to a greater extent than or less me grinning from ear to ear, in addition to sat clutching my mitt similar at that topographic point was no tomorrow. I all of a abrupt felt thus shallow, thus superficial. Is it genuinely thus slow to brand people happy? Why don’t nosotros receive got this endeavour anymore?

It all of a abrupt dawned on me why Calcutta weddings are non every bit ostentatious every bit the ones I’m used to inwards Delhi. We Bengalis (I state ‘we’ fifty-fifty though I receive got NO intentions of toning downwards the far-in-the-distant-future marriage ceremony of my imagination!) don’t run across the demand to pass plenty of coin on wearing clothing costing inwards the 5-figure range. We don’t demand 8 cuisines at the wedding. We don’t demand celebrity performers. What nosotros create need, however, is to live amongst our loved ones- our friends in addition to family- during the big moments inwards our lives.

Calcutta celebrates the things that genuinely matter.

Houses inwards Calcutta are non lavish. My sis in addition to I spent years talking near ‘Ugh! How create people LIVE there??’ The mutual belief, in addition to in all likelihood the truth, is that the average Bengali from Calcutta does non brand also much money. And immediately I know that it’s non because they’re non talented, or dedicated, or difficult working. No, that’s non it. The average Bengali from Calcutta is non every bit wealthy every bit his or her Gujarati or Panjabi or Marwari counterpart because the Bengali doesn’t alive for money. The Bengali lives for relationships- to create novel ones in addition to heighten existing ones. The Bengali lives for the arts- you’d live difficult pressed to notice a Bengali nipper who doesn’t sing, trip the lite fantastic or draw.

The typical Bengali’s line of piece of occupation solid inwards Calcutta is non done upward inwards fancy upholstery. It has rickety old furniture, in addition to carpets that are thus old yous cannot pare them off the flooring anymore (my house). The rooms are merely whitewashed in addition to the outsides are a faded sea-breeze-weathered ease of a brightly coloured coat of pigment that hasn’t been retouched inwards decades. It is dusty, in addition to if yous aspect exactly carefully enough, you’ll in all likelihood notice newspapers from a few years ago.

The typical Bengali’s line of piece of occupation solid also has books. Lots of them. Yellowed in addition to dog-eared from readings in addition to re-readings. There are hundreds of music CDs, in addition to fifty-fifty cassettes that haven’t been thrown out yet, fifty-fifty though the lastly fourth dimension individual listened to ane was several years ago. You’ll also in all likelihood notice a pair of musical instruments tucked behind some furniture.

t love Calcutta if yous alone experience it through your eyes or your olfactory organ Place to visit in India: Oh Calcutta!
India Calcutta Bookstore past times FriskoDude (Flickr Creative Commons)
The typical Bengali’s line of piece of occupation solid feels to a greater extent than similar habitation because it’s non perfectly done upward similar a hotel room. The intimidating books receive got been read. The fancy dishes receive got been eaten in. The novel mattress has been slept on. You receive got to sentry where yous sit down because at that topographic point may live an old pair of spectacles on the sofa (An oft-repeated, standing joke near Bengalis is our glasses. Almost all of us habiliment glasses!). The line of piece of occupation solid almost e'er smells similar food, in addition to yous tin drib past times uninvited in addition to unannounced, in addition to are e'er welcomed amongst the most opened upward of arms.

We’re non lazy go shirkers, though nosotros are commonly the starting fourth dimension ones to go out part every evening. We don’t tending near overtime pay, but nosotros create tending near eating dinner together amongst the ease of the family, discussing everyone’s day.

Never receive got I seen life thus calm, thus peaceful, in addition to thus unhurried than inwards those few hours. I was walking at my ‘Delhi pace’, walking briskly, deftly swerving to avoid bumping into anyone. It was similar the basis to a greater extent than or less me was moving inwards tedious motion. I knew I was dissimilar when I heard people exclaim inwards surprise when I said ‘I’m from Calcutta’. Everyone looked unconvinced at my claim till I admitted that I belong to Calcutta, but I alive inwards Delhi, in addition to receive got most of my life.

You cannot love Calcutta if yous aspect at it critically. You receive got to experience it, in addition to gustation it… Inhale it, in addition to absorb it. And that’s when something changes. Maybe it’s the city… Or perhaps it’s you.

Author Bio: Surya Bhattacharya is an architect from New Delhi. She is currently a blueprint educatee inwards Milan, Italy. She wants to locomote a lot to a greater extent than than she genuinely does. She tin live flora recounting her 'adventures' on her blog.

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