A city that never loses its charm, be it it’s culture, the cuisine or fashion is Kolkata.
Have you ever wandered the streets and the lanes of Kolkata ever? Beauty lies within every nook and corners of the streets of this city, our Kolkata. With the early morning songs of the birds in Maidan, there is this group of golden aged people, who laugh their hearts out (apparently sounds funny, but on closer inspection it is the only exercise they enjoy while doing). On another corner someone sits and wonders at the beauty of life, inhaling the fresh oxygen. Erstwhile, on another corner a group of youngsters, keep conferring their daily affairs sipping hot tea from “matir bhar” (a cup that is made of soil).
This is a city, where you start count downs 100 days before Durga Puja arrives and start plans even before! The enthusiasm in each and every person while preparing for Maa Durga’s arrival, leaves no stones unturned. The pandals, the murtis (idol), the shopping, new clothes, laal pad sada saree (white saree with red border); each and everything adds to the charisma of the city. The old and new friendships, the “special friendship”, the excitement of “parar pujo”, that canonical excuse to stay out till late night, the shameless amounts of junk foods we eat, the pandal hopping wearing new clothes and shoes despite the shoe bitten feet! We love it all. The joy when you hear the dhaak (a kind of percussion instrument used in pujas) and the special dhaak when Ashtami Anjali takes place and mandates the pujari (priest) to groove to the beats of “Dhaak” taking dhunuchi in both the hands; and we join in to that mania, draping beautiful sarees. The five days of enjoyment, the phase when durga puja ends, the sadness and distress and getting along with family and friends is magical and a part of life; a journey we all love so much. And then with watery eyes when people shout after bidding goodbye to Maa Durga saying “Asche bochor abar hobe” (next year, it’ll happen again)
The smell of Kolkata has always been cherished in all seasons. The aroma of ‘polash ful’ (a kind of flower) in spring, the smell of ‘bheja mati’ (wet ground) after the first rain before summers; the smell of mangoes, the smell of festive season in autumn while the ‘Kaash ful’ (grass flowers) are all premonitions of Maa Durga’s arrival, and finally that irrestible smell of ‘nolen gur’ (jaggery) during winters. Honestly, I do not have enough words to describe Bengali cuisine and specially our Bong sweet-tooth; something that makes us irresistibly crave for sweets and desserts; and is only satisfied after eating matkas of Roshogullas along with many other delicacies. To list down a few more: Makha Sandesh, Mishti Doi, Pantua, Nolen gurer Payesh(kheer), Chanar jilipi, Shor bhaja, and so on. Who said that money can’t buy you happiness! It can of course buy a bong Matka full of Happiness (mishtis).
Bengalis have always been very passionate about food, and sincerely put in efforts to try new dishes, with uniquely different combinations. Kolkata has consistently been rich in supply of fishes; one simply can’t resist this Bengali cuisine of Maach-bhaat (fish curry and rice), bhetkir paturi, muri Ghonto, macher muro diye moong dal (dal with fish head), chingri malai curry (prawn), lote maacher jhal, lau chingri and the very favourite shorshe diye ilish and doi ilish (hilsa), the mantra being “Eat and let eat”. Apart from fishes, the Bengali preparation of mishti polao and kosha mangsho, biriyani, posto bora, alu-piyaz er posto, shukto, accompanied by different chutneys, papad and curd. Truly, the list of delectable food in Kolkata and in Bengal is never-ending.
Also, being the city of passion, people of Kolkata have always been very proud and passionate about the richness in culture, art, music, dance and theatres. Kolkata has given birth to legends like Robi Thakur (Rabindranath Tagore), Satyajit Ray, Swami Vivekananda, Uttam Kumar, etc. The mixture of different forms of music which soothes your body, mind and soul, also co-exist here. Baul gaan, Rabindra sangeet, Nazrul Geeti, Shayama sangeet and Bengali rock music will suit any and every one and every mood of theirs!
Sitting by the “Princep Ghaat” when the sky is in multiple shades of orange and red, listening to a Bengali folk or Rabindra sangeet, is pure bliss. The ancient Howrah Bridge which still stands as a testament to immeasurable strength, bears innumerable responsibilities and burden of millions of people every day and it inspires us to be something like it. The soothing sound and chills of the Hooghly river flowing also reminds us how life goes on with its ups and downs and one can still can be so calm. If you ever visit Kolkata, spend an evening at the river side!
The famous ‘Tram’ moves as slow as a snail in the old streets of Kolkata, but it is still steady. Whenever you see a tram on the streets of Kolkata, it interestingly always captures your attention even though you might be seeing it every day, and you just can’t just ignore it. It also reminds you that it is the only place in India where this ancient eco-friendly automotive vehicle still exists. I can gladly say the feeling you get while travelling in an OLA or Uber or an AC bus is nothing when compared to travelling in a tram. Leaving a few, I can bet most of the bong youngsters, old aged, middle aged and many others have cherishing memories in the very famous ‘Coffee House’ in college street, as well, dating back to when they were young or even old!
It’s all about the nostalgia and the homely essence that Kolkata emits and that the people in the city of joy have cherished. To be unique, to be passionate and celebrate little bits of happiness that come their way. You will always get an extremely warm and friendly welcome the moment you step in Kolkata. The city will never fail to bring you happiness.
Thus, we can always say that “You may be taken out of Kolkata, but Kolkata cannot be taken out of you”. This is the meaning of Kolkata! THE CITY OF JOY!