Sunday, 27 January, 2008

oh kolkata!

I got this in a forward mail and lo and behold it is about my city Calcutta now called Kolkata. I read, agreed and deiced to add a bit more and put in some of my personal experiences and put it up for all of you who like/dislike, love/ hate, passionately love/passionately hate Kolkata. Also this could be an effective guide when you visit the city. Read and have fun…

Guide to Kolkata—The City Of Joy---
Bridges—The first thing that you see when you are entering Kolkata in a train is the Howrah Bridge. This bridge has been immortalized in every way possible and has a very strong symbolic presence in Bengali memory—from pride to nostalgia!
The new (well not so new anymore) second Hoogly Bridge. Even tough they took twenty years to build it, it has come to represent Bengal’s journey to a modern developed one.
Sahid Minar: Built along Kutub Minar's style.

Food: Kolkata is the mecca of food, all kinds from salty to sweet. Here is some of my favourites... the list is pretty long so sit back maybe with a cup of tea Kolkata style..
Phulkopir Shingara: samosas don't stand a chance against these.
Phuchka: gol-gappas aren't a patch on phuchkas. Try BengalLamp, Dakshinapan and Basantadebi College.
Karaishutir Kochuri: a seasonal favourite, have it with "alur dam".
Luchi: puri and phulkas - no comparison.
Alurdom: the world's best. Try the offering at Vivekananda Park.
Jhalmuri: a unique concoction, with nothing to equal it, well maybe the bhel, just sometimes!
Telebhaaja: these and jhalmuri are like 'made for each other'.
Chanachur: many have tried unsuccesfully to steal the formula, MNCs included!
Alukabli: where will you get something like this?
Ghugni: with chunky coconut pieces and dhonepata...again, chana is not the same at all
Radhaballavi: try it with alurdom or cholar daal.
Chanmp: even Pakistani cricketers have sampled these, in Chitpur and close sources say they were in love with it. Not that their [Pakistani cricketers] not liking it would have made the slightest difference to me.
Rezala: out of this world, just out of this world!
Biriyani: Best in the world, yes I am saying this after sampling other famous biriyanis. My favourite is Bedouine but there are other places like Shiraz, Amenia to name a few. And yes I lone Kolkata biriyani more cos of the potato and the egg that comes with it.
Paradise er Sharbat: there is one which is green, and another, pink. No college student from Presidency or the University has failed to sample these! Ah love and yummy sharbat sitting inside Paraside's cool interior with its stone topped tables...
Lere Biscut: needed to make the batter for chop-katlet. Can break your teeth but gotta dip it in bhar er cha and have it, ummmm.
Chicken Kabiraji: an unbelievable variation on the chicken cutlet. Try the fish one, it is even better. My mom loves it.
Moton Afghani: an equally innovative presentation of the mutton cutlet. And by mutton I mean goat and not lamb.
Dimer Devil: again, where do you get something like this? And imagine having a devil for a snack!
Kasha mangsho: it has become an institution now. Visit Gol Bari in Shyambazar's paanchmatha ar moore.
Roll: the ubiquitous mutton, chicken or egg roll. Unquestionably superior to any variants (Frankies for that matter) in any other city of the world. Even Delhi kati rolls for that matter and all roll wallahs in Delhi have been imported from Kolkata!
Tangra Chinese: Best Indian Chinese you get anywhere in the world.
Chinese breakfast: If you are one of the early risers this treat should not be missed.
Bharer chaa: on the Maidan, from shining brass vessels on a rainy day.
Pan unmatched, even in Benaras or Lucknow or Delhi’s Jamma Masjid where one freaking pan costs Rs 22, god knows why and is not even that good, and I am not even going into Priya or other costly hep places. Honestly!
On the sweeter side--------
Roshomalai: a creamy, mouth-watering delight!
Jilipi: smaller than the jalebis and tastes quite different. Should have it with shingara and kochuri for breakfast and from some North Calcutta shop like I used to in my mamarbari (maternal uncle's house) when I was a kid. Ah the taste is unforgatebale!
Lal/misti doi (sweetened yogurt): is an experience by itself! and please dont forget to eat doi er matha...literally translated head of the yogurt but what it means is the top layer!
Sada Doi/ Unsweetened Yogurt: have it @ the shop, "Mithai" or any other misthi ir dokan...
Kamala bhog: a pale yellow orb, delicately sweetened.
Notun gurer sondesh: a winter speciality available in no other city. Have it in Girish in Bhowanipur. That shop makes the most amazing notun gurer sondesh.
Rosogolla: simply needs no introduction. Way better than the tinned ones ones the small ones found in Delhi. Try it fresh and hot from neighbourhood sweetshop.
Natun gurer Rosogolla: the innovation just before they moved onto chocolate rosogolla. This is the yummiest thing possible. Have it in Shailendra or Girish (both in Bhowanipur). You have to keep going back to Calcutta for this only I bet.
Shitabhog: pure white with little pievces of pantua, sweetened to just the right extent.
Mihi Dana: golden yellow, saffron scented. Try Sen Mahasai's, much better than what you would get in Bardhaman the city of mihidanas and sitabhogs.
Maalpoa: rich brown pancakes, dripping in sugar syrup, but you have to get your grandmother or aunt to make it, because the home made ones are by far the best. My dimma (grandma) makes the yummiest ones.
Ranga alur pithey: another traditional favorite in winter. My mom makes this amazingly.

Up the fashion street
Fashions keep changing. But the dhuti-panjabi and tangail look never goes out-dated. Dhuti with extra broad borders: the finest and most elegant available here. Dhutis in red or black or any other colour that men can brave themselves to be seen in! should go to Maddox square during pujos to check out these modern kartiks in multicoloured dhotis! The latest sensation in Calcutta. Giley kara Panjabi: those with the improbably crinkled sleeves.
Tangail Sari: the best in these all-time favourites can be found here.and the other marks of distinction are...40.. Bidy asagari choti: you still get them here. Kabuli Chappal: another old favourite. Garader Sari: ideal with pujo bari, shankher awaaj.
Batik: get a silk batik sari or a scarf.
Murshidabad silk: Gives a run to Chinese silk
Katha ar stich: Created a niche of its own among the fashionable
Terracotta jwellery: Cheap but pieces of art

Sights and sounds: One wakes up in the morning and hears their voices drifting through the air. So typically do they say their bit...that it is difficult to forget....and even more so imitate...
Shil katowala: they chip the stone slabs which grind masalas.
Chhuri Kanchhi Shaanwala: sharpens knives, scissors and anything with an edge.
Lep Shelaiwala: they make those cotton quilts which warm you up in winter.
And early in the morning, before Durga Pujo, who can forget the strains of Mahalayar mahishashuromardini.
Bhashans: Any puja be it durga or saraswati the bhashan is a very important part and you should listen to the music that accompanies these bhashan processions.

Kolkata unique institutions which have become part of Kolkata's life...
Coffee House:Do you know Coffee House is also known as Albert hall? Too much has already been said about this institution. Still a lot more can be said. Now they have revamped and redesigned this place but I am told that the adda and intellectual atmosphere is still the same.
Rabindra Sadan, Nandan and Academy of Fine Arts: Hub of Kolkata's culture, go there any evening and you would find the place filled with poets, intellectuals, journalists, students and what nots engaged in serious decisions (intellectual addas) while Charminars or Gold Flake ciggarates hang from their mouths and cha er bhaar in their hands.
Natok: Theatre is serious business in Kolkata, must see one of the groups while you are there whether in Academy, Shishir Mancha or Madhusadan Macha.
Bangla Rock: A recent well just 10/15 year old innovation. Each student in Kolkata has some fond memory of jiving while the bands play in college festivals.
Metro Rail: spick and span, and the trains are dot on time and the Bongs are not so argumentative in the train. Though men sure were pissed off when seats were reserved for women. And it is much older than Delhi metro...
Park Street: This is the street where all the great food places, confectionaries like Flury's and now T3 are situated as well as book shops, if you want to feel the Anglo side of Kolkata you have to take a walk down here. No Christmas or New Year celebration is complete without a trip to Park Street.
Victoria Memorial: Brits created it in honour of Queen Victoria, Kolkatans enjoy it irrespective.
Kalitghat/Belur/Dakhisneswar/Adyapith/St Paul's Cathedral: You visit these irrespective of your faith because they are places of beauty and superb archietecture.
Maidan: the ideal p lace to be on a sleepy, winter morning. or if you are a football fan, have you ever palyed football in maidan in a muddy monsoon day? If not, try it!
College Streeter Boipara: bookworms buzz around this place morning, noon and night.
Kolkata Markets: Gariahat, New Market, Shyambazar gives a run to all the new malls a run for their money any day. I am totally anti brands and anti malls...I dont want my Indian bazars and thriving markets to die down and be replaced by these monstrous, antispectic malls which all look the same...join me in my crusade...
Lake/Hedua: Water bodies with parks where couples, kids, elderly, friends all hand out.
Kolkata Cinema Halls: Lighthouse/ Globe/ New Empire/Basushree/Priya/Menoka long live.
All Night Music Conference: you won't find a minute to yawn.
Circular Rail: see the river all along as you travel on the train. It is always empty and pretty eerie, so a bit careful.
Ganga te nouko biha (actually it is Hoogly and not Ganga, when I was in class 4, our school gave us this question in GK test and tortured us all): either in a country boat or a steamer or on hover craft!
Dolphins in the Ganga: if it's your lucky day, you might catch a glimpse of a frolicking shoal ( I have never seen or heard of this but hey this is about Calcutta, so a little boasting would not hurt at all).
East Calcutta Wetlands: our very own eco-system regulator - just on the outskirts.
Travel in style--Rickshaw: still the preferred form of transportation for some, especially children and the elderly.
School van: it's to be seen to be believed how 10/15 kids can be squeezed in such tiny space.
Tram: if you have time on hand, you can see the city glide by.

Calcutta's passion--
Roker adda: Calcuttans are an adda baaj lot.
Mohan Bagan & EastBengal: prices of ilish (Hilsa) or chingri (prawns and shrimps) go up, depending on who wins the day. If East Bengal wins wham goes Hilsa price...they eat a whole lot of fish all the time.
Nobles prizes and Kolkatans: Just to impress—did you know Plato and Asristotle loved a good argument and had all their ideas flowing from there? No wonder we get all the Noble prizes in India!
Jatra: who says it is all melodrama? These could give Ekta Kapoor a run for her money.
Durga pujo: the pomp and pageantry, reserved each year for the 'mother of all festivals'. Kolkatans from all over the world try to flock back home during these four days.
Pujo Awards: Awards given by companies like Asian Paints to the best pujo in Kolkata has become an institution in itself.
Little magazine: you still find devotees of this publishing wonder.
Book Fair: when the fair is on, you are there - whether you love books or not. Just go to eat those savoury fish fries from Benfish stall.
Cricket match at the Eden: cricketers and cricket lovers theworld over treasure the experience.

City's own and one of its kind--
Hydrant: there's a move by the CMC to revive the practice of washing the streets with Ganga water from the hydrant
Italian Saloon: road side barber joints, where you sit on a piece of brick (it).
Chinese dry cleaners: do a very clean job, indeed.
Darjees of Metiabruz: are a cut above the rest. Even if they cut corners at times!

And I dont think I have covered all of it.

Now, Tell Me Is There Any Other Place Better Than Kolkata On Earth?


  1. Oh my god!!! this totally inspires me to write about Mumbai!!!

  2. go on do it ;) maybe you should inaugarate your blog with something on mumbai .... you should definitely write abt taxiwallahs and autowallahs of mumbai....they r a precious lot...

  3. Hi! that's a great read! i have a food guide to the City too! do you think you want to go through it and tell me whether you like it or no? Here's the link...


Hey there, thanks for your comment, let me take a peek and I will soon post it. Cheers!