I Stayed in Kolkata From 2010 To 2014 And Those Are Till Date The Best Days Of My Life
Kolkata is not the city I have grown up in as a kid, it’s not the city in which I was born, it is the city in which I developed as a human being. As a kid, I was terrified of the city. I was brought up in the beautiful valley of Dehradun-the tranquility, the calmness, the peace, the hills-all in stark contrast with the hustling-bustling, hot, sweaty, polluted, over-populated city of Kolkata. As Bengalis, every year during the two-month long summer vacation, we would make an annual trip to the City of Joy (back then to me it wasn’t). I started staying in Kolkata in 2010 up until 2014-and though it may sound clichéd the truth remains, that those are till date the best days of my life. Since 2014, I have travelled halfway across the world to USA, could not bring myself to like it there, eventually came back to India’s silicon valley-Bangalore, but not one day passes when I don’t miss Kolkata. All my relatives, my boy-friend stay there, but more than missing them, I miss Kolkata, I miss the city of Kolkata. In the evenings, I miss Park Street, during afternoons I miss the tiny by-lanes of Shobha Bazar-the calmness of the yesteryear houses, during winter I miss Maidan, the St. Paul’s Cathedral and in the morning I miss the Howrah bridge, but during the entire day I miss the 8-B bus stand.
Kolkata is a food paradise, but when I read the food-blogs online, I often come across a few famous, already known to people ones like Peter Cat’s chelo kebabs, Flury’s pastries, Mocambo’s devilled crabs and so on and so forth. I do not deny that they are absolutely delectable and an absolute embodiment of perfection, but to me Kolkata’s food is much more than these elegant, posh restaurants of Park Street. The beauty of Kolkata’s food also lies in its affordability and the local adda that one gets for free with the food. I have lived in Kolkata as a student while pursuing my Master’s degree from Jadavpur University. For those of you who have lived in the Jadavpur “chottor” you will know what an absolutely exciting place it is starting from the 8B bus stand, to the Jadavpur Railway Station, the 2nd gate of the university, the “chaar number” gate, with Shamoldar Chaa and Maggi, the whole area is vibrant. It is my favorite place to be and even when you are in the worst of mood one walk through this area is bound to cheer you up. The one thing that makes Kolkata stand out from amongst the various other metros is its retro charm, you go to the local chai wala, you will not only get a cup of chai, you will also get to know about everything that’s happening across the globe starting from Obama and ending at the local parar dada and that is the reason, why you won’t feel lonely in this city or rather feel the lack of a company in this old-world metro. I recently went to Kolkata this December. I went there after seventeen months so obviously I was in a very elated place mentally, because somehow even the aerial view of Kolkata has the ability to make me happy. As is usually the case with all the Bengalis, I wanted to carry back the famous Nolengurer Sandesh with me. As I was getting my sweets packed and also having those which could not be possibly packed and yapping away to glory with my boyfriend, an elderly gentleman came and picked up a conversation with me about the very many sweets that were available in the store and finally asked who the guy standing with me is, to which I just smiled and he lovingly laughed back and wished us a very happy future together. It so happens that Kolkata is the only city in India where I can expect a total stranger to talk to me in such a loving manner, without even knowing my name and actually wish us a good future whereas in the rest of the country people are way too much busy with their hectic work schedule.
I also remember hundreds of such incidences wherein I would go for a cup of tea alone to a very small chai-wala and return back a couple of hours later, having puffed a couple of cigarettes and some very intellectual conversation with someone who was almost the age of my grandfather and in my heart I would feel very satisfied after having gotten to know so much from a total random stranger whom I might not see again. Such is the beauty of Kolkata.
People nowadays say that the Calcuttians have changed a lot, nowadays people have stopped bothering about others, and it is not the same old culture that is followed by many, but what we tend to forget is that it is people like us who have always blamed the Bengali chromosome for being over-emotional, for not being professional, for not being as progressive as the rest of the country and it is us-the very same people who blame us for what we have turned the city and its people into.
— Sent by Rubana Aafreen
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