“Kolkata is like a piece of shit on the face of this earth”, wrote the famous writer Günter Grass.
Like there is some who would agree with this bad notion, there are many many more who loves the city of joy and would disapprove of one such statement. A person who is not associated with or is ignorant of the Indian culture and tradition will probably generate one such idea and never understand the true spirit of the city. It could also be our shortfall that we had been unable to show many like Grass the brighter side of things that are here.
I have heard many of my friends calling Kolkata to be chaotic, cluttered and dirty. True, some parts of Kolkata is dirty, is chaotic. Yet Kolkata is the City of Joy. Kolkata is the city of tradition and culture. Kolkata is the city of football and cricket. Kolkata is the city of Tagore, Ray and Ghatak. Kolkata is the city of lavish shopping malls. Kolkata is the city of booming IT industry. It’s the city we all love.
After much of my insistence, two of my friends – one who migrated to a foreign land some 10 years back to pursue his higher education and then finally thought US would provide him better opportunities and lifestyle settled there and another who moved her base down south considering it to be a much progressive place – decided to fly down to Kolkata during Durga Pujo. I travelled with them through the city. Took them to places just to show them why I loved Kolkata. Besides a rigorous pandal hopping, we also visited many parts of the city and hogged on everything starting from street food stalls to plush eateries.
I didn’t had to do much to make the desi American and the bong Bangalorean admit the fact that they have travelled across the world staying in some of the most popular cities, but have never felt so connected with any place. Being the emotional fool that I am, my eyes were filled with tears when he uttered those words.
Well the fact is that I never did anything to influence them to change their perception about my city. I did not make Victoria Memorial look so intriguing while the sun going down. I did not make neon draped streets of north Calcutta look so inviting at night. I did not make the Vidyasagar Setu so alluring from Princep Ghat. I did not make the Circular Rail trip down riverside seem so romantic.
It is all there seeming so fascinating all the time. The fact is that most of us never noticed it.
There will be a second part of the article talking about our 4 days trip around Kolkata.