Tag Archives: Kolkata

Secularism-it’s not a word, it’s a way of living

One doesn’t love a city just because of its scenic beauty or its malls, when we say we love a city it is because some very pleasant memories are etched to our mind-memories that have the ability to make us smile even when we feel blue, and those attached to these fond memories are who we hold close to our hearts.What makes a city famous is its history, its natural beauty, its contribution towards the economic development of the country and so on and so forth. But what makes a city great are its people. In the past seven months of my stay here in Bangalore, all I get to hear about the northerners is their lack of etiquettes and how loud and showy they are. On the other hand, the North Indians complain of the “south-indians” being aloof and not being friendly and welcoming enough. And although I know that there’s no real end to this war of words, still, whenever such a conversation strikes up, I inevitably end up thinking about a third kind of people- the Bengalis. And while many might argue that we Bengalis do not know how to live without any agendas and just need a reason to create unrest, I know that’s just because the majority of the blamers do not know what it takes to take a stand. True, we have a stand for and against everything under the Sun and the Moon and unlike the rest of India, we do not feel inhibited to voice our opinion unequivocally, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We not only voice our opinion but also stand by it till the very end, even if we end up paying heavily for our beliefs. Most of the Bongs like to think about things from a point of view that is beyond religion, caste, creed or any other bigotry for that matter. This is probably one of the many reasons that although we cannot boast of a strong economy we can boast of having a relatively more peaceful communal environment than most other Indian states.
I belong to what the Indian Constitution defines as the minority class of the population, and while many may not like it when I say that in my life I have seen and faced many issues just because of my religious beliefs, it is true. Once, while I was staying as a paying guest in Kolkata, the landlord suddenly asked me to vacate the premises on religious grounds. I was devastated because it is very difficult for a single working girl to find a suitable accommodation. I asked my friends who were staying with me if they would also vacate along with me as I felt this would serve the dual purpose of me being able to rent a flat with flat-mates I already knew as well as teach the landlord a lesson for harbouring communal feelings. The general tendency of the people being not to get involved in somebody else’s problem, I could not gather enough support. But one among them agreed. And she not only came out with me, she also had to bear a financial loss when the landlord did not agree to pay back the security deposit she had submitted while entering the premises. After this financial loss of hers when the two of us started our search for an apartment, we faced more issues, some because people were skeptical of letting out to two single working girls and others because of my religious beliefs. And while we were searching under the scorching heat of the sun getting one negative reply after the other, not once did she complain or make me realise by words or by gesture that she was doing me a favour by supporting me against the landlord. And in the end we did manage to find a place as per our liking and moved in.
The truth is that today, I really don’t harbour any ill-feelings towards those who refused to help me or who refused to let out their place to me that too because of a reason that is entirely personal to me and should not affect or concern them at all, as a matter of fact I won’t be able to recognise them should I accidentally happen to meet them on the road today, such is my indifference towards them. But I do remember this girl, and I am still very much in touch with her inspite of the distance and the hectic work schedules we have. I do remember that this particular girl helped me when none would. She who is much younger than me had the mentality and the maturity to support me not only through encouraging words but actually went ahead with me all the way, and to me she symbolises the true Bong girl-the kind of person that today’s communally torn India needs. She is the numero-uno of all my reasons for loving Kolkata.

Ten lesser known budget eating places in Kolkata…

Food…the one word that has the ability to excite all Bengalis. We Bengalis are very famous for our cuisine starting from machher jhol to our own version of chilli chicken and chowmein. Also, what makes food one of the essences of our Bengali existence and civilization is its affordability.

Whether as students or as working professionals, there’s always that time of the month when you cannot afford even a pack of cigarettes and think of switching over to beedis. This article is dedicated to all those who either live as students in the great city on their parent’s money (sometimes aided with a couple of odd tutoring class money) and to all those working professionals who find themselves broke in the middle of every month and think of saving from their next salary (but as we all know it only too well that ain’t gonna happen!!!)

So here, I thought that I would just share the ten eating joints, where u can go just with your girl-friend/boy-friend or you can go in a big gang, eat to your heart’s content without digging a big hole in your pocket.

  1. GolbarirKoshaMangsho: If you have heard about it but haven’t gone yet, please do…there’s nothing like it. Right at the five-point crossing in Shyambazar, exists the paradise for mutton lovers. The mutton so tender, the curry just the right amount of spicy, the soft, not-too-oily parathas, along with a side pickle and two odd rings of raw onion, it’s absolutely delectable. Also, you get to sit on a very low stool, in a semi-underground room –the old school cabin style-with the aroma of the mutton surrounding you from all sides. Just a word of caution though, a winter evening will be the best time because of the structure of the place, and on weekends go a bit early because it’s very highly in demand.
  2. Jadavpur University #4 gate’s Phuchka: So, its “that time of the month” and you need to take your girl-friend out, and me being a girl can bet my life on the fact that your girl-friend will love phuchka-but wait…this is not any ordinary phuchka, even if you are not a die-hard fan of phuchka, the “dadu” has the ability of making you fall in love with phuchka. I personally think that the only other place in Kolkata which can give dadu’s phuchka a run for its money is situated in the corner of Bethune College opposite to the park.
  3. Bazigar’sHubba Roll: This is a small take away counter located in the 8B bus stand in Jadavpur. It’s one of the most filling, money saving snack that I have ever had with boiled egg and a very spicy mashed potato with vegetables enclosed in a paratha. The spice level is just perfect and is ideal for enjoying the crowd while having something really tasty to munch at.
  4. Mandarin Gourmet: Though this is not entirely in sync with the entire money saving concept because although compared to the rest of the cities in India, the price is nothing, but compared to the other joints mentioned in this article, this is a tad more expensive, but the Chinese cuisine here is simply superb. Also just off the EM Bypass such a calm and quite location with a huge number of restaurants can exist was beyond my imagination, but out of all the other restaurants, this one is definitely one of the very best.
  5. Ridhdhi-Sidhdhi: who said you have to go to Mumbai for the perfect paw-bhaji, you can get the very best in our own aamchhi Kolkata at Camac Street. This is a small eatery with a decent sitting facility available, a friendly atmosphere, and even if you do not like paw-bhaji you can always go for the other various snacks like dosa and the varieties of chats they have on their menu card.
  6. Zeeshan’s Kati Roll: Kolkata is so famous for its rolls that even in the other major cities, many roll joints will claim their rolls to be the original Kolkata rolls and on that note the kati roll of Zeeshan’s is not to be missed. Kati roll is not so uncommon in Kolkata but what sets apart Zeeshan’s kati roll is its tender meat and the super soft paratha which is totally non-oily, and will make you feel craving for more while filling you up completely.
  7. Roadside grilled chicken sandwich: Located on Short street (the tiny road next to Camac street Pantaloons- right next to the Pizza Hut counter) there are these three to four roadside shops where you will get the most value for money grilled chicken sandwich (also a very good spot for paw bhaji) and to top it up, after you have filled yourself up and feel the urge for a drink, they make very refreshing masala cold drinks too-complete solution for food and thirst well within budget.
  8. Denzong’s Kitchen: Located on Prince Anwar Shah Road, within a very close proximity of the famous South City Mall, this tiny place will just sweep you off your feet with its soft delicately cooked momos, thukpa and shapta. This place although situated on Anwar Shah Road provides a very calm atmosphere and in the evenings is an ideal place for couples to hang and speak or a group of friends to have some fun.
  9. Shyamoldar Cha: Every great idea in Bengaloriginated over a cup of Cha and nothing can beat Shyamoldar Cha in a huge “maatir bhaand”. Also, for those extreme tea lovers, you will be delighted to see a bhaand that will satisfy your thirst for tea with just one serve. With a variety of the local bakery biscuits and a special version of masala maggi with spice and egg you can happily puff away. The best part about this small road-side tea joint is that even sitting on a small bench surrounded by overtly noisy students, you can have a very personal conversation with your special someone, and while you are sipping your Cha, you will get to hear so many ongoing interesting bites that you will be entertained and would not feel the lack of company in case you have decided to alone.
  10. A-1 Hazi’s Roll: Located on Dumdum road, ask any one-student to a seventy year old woman, they will be able to guide you to this roll shop. What’s more…in case you are hungry you can also grab a plate of very affordable chicken biryani. Because of its huge sale you need not worry about the quality of the raw materials used, and can just have a gigantic roll on your way to run some errands or sit and have with your partner for the evening.

So, although it’s “that time of the month” go out with your friends or your special someone and have finger licking good food at totally affordable price, and while you are in Kolkata enjoy these food joints, because no other city in the entire world would be able to provide you with so many delicious options at such a price. So, next time rather than hanging out in one of the more established “branded” food joints and checking in on Facebook try these, and you will end up enjoying the real world so much that the virtual world won’t matter anymore to you.


Image Courtesy : http://ontheroxmag.com/the-story-of-the-humble-phuchka-the-pride-of-kolkata/

Oh My Kolkata!!!

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 ShamoldarChaa 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 NolengurerSandesh 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.

Image Courtesy :http://openbuildings.com/buildings/howrah-bridge-profile-11696