A Twenty-something Girl Falls In Love Again.

Twenty-something…

Doesn’t this phrase sound like music to your ears? No? Well, it does to me. Especially when I know that I won’t be able to use it anymore to describe myself.

So, this twenty-something-slash-almost-thirty girl has fallen in love again. But it’s not any tall, dark and handsome knight in shining armour.

It’s a city.

I never thought that the traveller in me will ever fall in love with a city. Not that I hate them. But being a concrete-jungle girl for you-know-how-many years, I am never attracted to city tours.

Sandy beaches allure me. Foggy mountains keep calling me up north. I am constantly torn between being a mountain child or a beach babe. And while I’m trying to solve this love triangle situation, I meet the new love of my life: Kolkata.

From the moment I made a plan to visit Kolkata till the time I was boarding the train, I was bombarded with questioning looks. “Why Kolkata?”, “That city is so crowded!”, “Isn’t Bombay chaos enough for you?”, “Do you have any Bong connection there?”, “You could have chosen a much better place”, are just a few of the countless questions I was tired of answering.

After a certain point, I stopped explaining. I saw Kolkata from my lens; I adored it. And I feel it is my duty towards this metropolis to answer my friends’ questions and satisfy their curiosity about why I romanticise this city so much.

 

Why Kolkata?

This visit was exclusively for Durga Pujo. It is one festival that always fascinated me. The grandeur of Durga Pujo in Kolkata is incomparable. It has a perfect balance of traditional rituals, cultural events, and appreciation of art incorporated in the festivity.

Idol of Goddess Durga in making at Kumartuli.
Idol of Goddess Durga in making at Kumartuli.

 

That city is so crowded!
Yes, Kolkata is crowded. The roads are always buzzing, especially during Durga Puja.

Once, I was almost about to be a part of a crazy stampede outside Tridhara Akalbodhan pandal. That was my last night in Kolkata, so I did some massive mishti (sweet) shopping from Ballaram Mullick & Rajaram Mullick, a sweet shop with legacy of over 200 years. As I was crossing the road with two hefty bags on my shoulder, I suddenly got pulled into the sea of pandal-hoppers. I would never forget how I rescued myself, and more importantly, the sweets.

Undoubtedly that was a very up-close encounter with Cal-chaos. But if you look at it closely, you will find patterns in this chaos.

The roads here work in shifts. Traffic is directed to different routes for different times of the day. The auto-rickshaws are also not allowed on roads post evening. Measures like these have been taken to make the city less chaotic. They’re working towards it, and with effective implementation, they’re somewhat getting it right. If you observe a little, you’ll find many more instances of order in its madness.

Slightly different kind of traffic jam at Dalhousie Square.
Slightly different kind of traffic jam.

Isn’t Bombay chaos enough for you?

There is no urban area on the face of earth with zero chaos. But, that doesn’t mean all the cities are equally chaotic. You cannot compare Kolkata with Bombay in that respect.

Office-goers are not in hurry. You’ll find a lot of them walking leisurely to reach their workplace, eating jhalmuri. Some might even sit on a park bench or at a roadside tea-stall with a daily to get their morning dose of news and current affairs.

Here, you won’t find any rat race. Here, people are busy, but they won’t mind going out of their way to help you. Here, I felt not the Bombay chaos, but Bombay spirit; and that too, in a much refined way.

Kolkata is known for its Adda culture. Here, you'll find 'Cha' lovers gathered around a tea stall, enjoying their tea in Bhaand (earthen pots) with gossip for sides.
Kolkata is known for its Adda culture. Here, you’ll find ‘Cha’ lovers gathered around a tea stall, enjoying their tea in Bhaand (earthen pots) with gossip for sides.

Do you have any Bong connection there?

Before the visit? No.

But now, after spending several days here, I can say I do have very strong connections in this city. I kept meeting people with big hearts and warm smiles, who made me feel like a part of their family. Kolkata without this bunch of sweethearts would have been very different.

Ever-smiling Mrs. Mukherjee who not just made me feel at home, but also made me indulge in the yummiest meal ever. Here, she is carrying a bhog thaali to be offered to Durga Ma.
Ever-smiling Mrs. Mukherjee who not just made me feel at home, but also made me indulge in the yummiest meal ever. Here, she is carrying a bhog thaali to be offered to Durga Ma.

You could have chosen a much better place.

Yes. I could have, because this world is full of beautiful destinations offering myriad wonderful experiences and stories. And Kolkata is one of those.

 

Kolkata is a delight for food, photography, culture, art and much more. You just have to look around with your eyes open, and you’ll find every corner hiding beauty worth falling in love with.

Like this one:

A unique corner-piece spotted on the College Street.
A corner-piece spotted on the College Street.

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