A city like Kolkata

by Sunday, February 22, 2015 0 comments
A noisy platform, sounds of railway engines often starts a journey by train. The known edges of a known city are gradually replaced by parallel running endless tracks and fields showing their produce as if showing off. And hence began my journey to Kolkata. It was my second trip to the city and first opportunity to explore it in a better way. 
The Howrah Bridge

Kolkata or Calcutta the city is like no other, and none other could be. The city is as grand and rich as its history and is sure to make you stop and look back at it with ahhh. It was one of the first few trade and commercial centres to be developed by the Britishers as a part of colonizing India and later developed as one of the biggest cultural hub of India.
Although the buildings don't have a sharp and rich architecture when compared to cities from western and southern India, yet the design of the entire city is remarkable, subtle and too distinct from that of Delhi and Mumbai (I am left with Chennai to cover all the metros). The impression of the Bengali culture is visible throughout even when immigrants from the neighbouring states have settled here in large numbers. The streets are almost full always (but are clean), and the traffic jams are better than those I witnessed back in Delhi.

A striking difference I observed in Kolkata from other metro cities is the people. They may be angry and rude at times but have a special soft corner when it comes to music and language. The regional cinema is prominently highlighted all over the city and one can easily enjoy singing songs with workers in the middle of a bustling street like I did along with Siddarth. Yes Bengali is a tough language to write but speaking and understanding it is rather simpler. You can enjoy speaking it just like Punjabi.

The western bank of the river Hoogly also known as Howrah looks more like an old industrial hub with big old shabby warehouses with trees all grown up. Rickshaws, buses, taxies and other vehicles bustle through the great Grand Trunk road also giving you the taste of what rush hour truly is. The icon joining the banks, Howrah Bridge which recently completed 72 years of service is a delight to watch especially when you cross it on foot. The view, breeze, sunset and lastly the river itself add to form a great experience. And for those who enjoy a closer look, ferry services operate throughout the year. You will know when you stand at the edge of a ferry and look around.

But a fair warning first, the atmosphere is humid and the city is densely populated (I mean it). The only additional things I would suggest you to take to Kolkata are strong legs so that you can walk for long and an empty stomach so that you can taste the variety of food. I can certainly keep it next to Chandni Chowk for any food lover. The taste can keep you on your toes until you get another taste of your favourite dish being prepared right in front of your eyes. For the sweet lovers Misthi Doi, Sandesh and Rosogulla can certainly make the day. And for this fire of a hungry stomach, I found Kolkata and Howrah equally capable.
Ambassadors are very popular as taxis

For anyone who has missed riding an Ambassador the classic beauty, this is the place. It is easy to find it as a taxi and fare seems reasonable. It is a different and nice experience altogether given the entire buzz about Ambassador being old and outdated. I found the car comfortable and spacious and it can easily stand at par with most of the modern taxis. 

A visit to Victoria Memorial took me to the imperial times. The sangemarmar imported from Rajasthan shines and reminds of the glory of the British empire. The exhibition hall houses exhibits about Bengal, its culture and history from before Britishers till independence of India. Although I missed riding a tram and a hand pulled rickshaw, visiting Science city and Botanical Garden this time again, I am sure they must be a one of their kind experience for an outsider like me. At least I can count more reasons to visit this great city again.