B for Bengal. B for Boroline.

There are brands that own market’s share. And then, there are brands that own market’s heart. Boroline belongs to the second clan.

While I made it clear in my earlier posts that my visit to Kolkata was exclusively for Durga Puja, today I’m writing to tell you a brand story. Correction: a super brand story.

Boroline is synonymous to Bengal. It is an integral part of the city’s history and heritage. Naturally, my curiosity about the brand piqued, and I wrote an excited mail to the Boroline People. Within a few days, I got a reply and a warm invitation to visit their factory.

To my surprise, Mr. Debashish Dutta (MD, Boroline) himself accompanied me to the factory. Before visiting the set up, he took me to their headquarters in New Alipore to give a glimpse of how it all began. In the reception area, He pointed at two rudimentary machines secured in a glass case. The first one is called a charge machine, and the second one is a filling machine. Back then, this was the only apparatus used to manufacture the legendary cream.

The charge machine.
The charge machine.
The Filling Machine
The Filling Machine

We cut to the current factory down South, and what we see is a humongous set up divided in two distinct sections. One is dedicated for Boroline, and another for Suthol, both top line products in the company’s portfolio. In a period of mere two weeks, stock of over 50 lakhs is produced, with 2.5 lakh tubes manufactured per day.

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The state-of-the-art machines, specially designed for manufacturing the Boroline products,

Not to mention, this massive production takes place without compromising on product quality. Here, precision and efficiency are strengths of every employee. State-of-the-art machineries are made to order understanding the nature of the product, to suit it’s requirements.

We were given anti-contamination gear to cover our body, and were made to go through hygiene control gateways to ensure zero contamination in the manufacturing unit.

Khushbudaar antiseptic cream Boroline. :)
Khushbudaar antiseptic cream Boroline. 

Every machine, every process, every nook, every corner of the factory mirrored the team’s sincere efforts and dedication towards their work.

The iconic green tube.
The iconic green tube.

 

They also have pods.
They also have these cute pots.

 

It was so comforting to watch these pots move from one track to another.

Boroline is a brand that was born in a quaint corner of North Kolkata in a house that played a triple role of a manufacturing unit, store house and the founder’s residence. The factory then moved from The Boroline House to another area in North Kolkata. The current factory is their third set-up.

The brand was a brainchild of Mr. Gourmohan Dutta. He formed a company called G.D. Pharmaceuticals to give a Swadeshi answer to increasingly oppressive imperialistic policies of British Raj. People started loving the product, and then there was no looking back. A humble green tube with black lettering (better known as the haathiwala cream) became a strong weapon against unjust imperialism.

After Mr. G.D. Dutta, his son took the legacy forward with product innovations, extensions and marketing ideas. But, his sudden demise was a great shock for the entire Boroline family. Little Debashish was too young to take such a big responsibility. Mrs. Dutta didn’t know how to run a business. But one thing she knew was that the lives of the workers and their families are depending on her. She didn’t let the gates close and took on the mantle.

I feel, women like her are the real Durgas of the modern times. Durga was incarnated as an ultimate form of Shakti, which was otherwise unknown to the universe. She was formed to save the world from evil. Mrs. Dutta, who was otherwise a shadow of her husband, took a bold step by taking the responsibility of a multimillion company on her shoulders. Her brave decision not only fed workers’ hungry mouths, but also saved a significant part of Kolkata’s history from dying an untimely death. That significant part of history that is still successfully creating history.

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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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Ganesh Visarjan Day: Then and Now

‘Ganpati Bappa Morya! Ganpati Bappa Morya!’

The words enveloped the city on the day of Ganesh Chaturthi as millions welcomed home their favourite guest.

Ganesh Festival is my favourite time of the year. Born and brought up in the heart of Lalbaug-Parel area of Mumbai, I have grown up celebrating this festival with great excitement. The pandals, the lighting and decoration, the long aarti sessions, the elocution competitions for children, the night-walks through the lanes of lalbaug, the jatra; every single thing has contributed to make my childhood memorable. But one thing that is etched deeply in my memory is the Ganesh Visarjan.

The Visarjan Day (or the Immersion Day) has always been special. Today, I close my eyes and the entire picture comes alive. I open my eyes and I realise nothing much has changed. Yes, with the advent of the DJ music, which I strongly detest, the form of the procession has changed. But the nature still remains the same.

These are a few last year’s photographs of some of the most common things you’d find in any Ganpati Visarjan procession across Maharashtra.

Chillar Party
Ganpati, the God of knowledge, is every child’s favourite Bappa! Throughout the ten days, the bachcha company keeps running around the pandals, helping their elders with small errands, feeling proud about their contribution. On the day of Visarjan, kids don their nicest dresses and set out to be a part of the grand procession.

Look at these two having fun with gulaal.
Look at these two having fun with gulaal.
They make elder’s shoulders their best vantage point.
They make elder’s shoulders their best vantage point.
The best view ever
The best view ever.
And the younger ones are always made to touch Bappa’s feet and to seek blessings.
And the younger ones are always made to touch Bappa’s feet and to seek blessings.
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Innocent prayers.

Women in Forefront
No matter how much we deny, we still live in a patriarchal society. It’s a sight for sore eyes to see so many women coming forward to bid adieu to their Lord. Dressed in traditional Navvari sarees or a macho kurta pajama and Gandhi cap, they all congregate and sometimes even outnumber male volunteers.

Women performing traditional Mangalagauri games
Women performing traditional Mangalagauri games.
Female volunteers at work and play.
Female volunteers at work and play.

The Swag Quotient
Trends come and trends go, but during the Visarjan you’ll always spot cool dudes sticking to the classic. One just cannot go wrong with the classic combination of Kurta and aviator glasses. You’ll find not one, but many bhais going all out with this dress code.

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Kurta and aviators combo has its own swag!
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And mind you, this style was famous long before the Dabangs and Singhams of the world came into existence.

Gulaal
No festival in India is complete without colours, especially Ganesh Festival. Streaks of Gulaal rocketing up in the sky, forming clouds of pinks and reds make a picturesque sight.

And it’s not bought in docile plastic packets, but in ten and twenty kg gunny bags.
And it’s not bought in docile plastic packets, but in ten and twenty kg gunny bags.
Sometimes it makes the odd stand out. Sometimes it makes everyone blend with the crowd.
Sometimes it makes the odd stand out. Sometimes it makes everyone blend with the crowd.
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The pink finds Nirvana as it settles at the Lord’s feet.

Pushpavrishti
Pushpavrishti is the flower shower that is offered to everyone’s beloved Ganesha, as he proceeds towards his abode. Every year, innovative ideas are implemented by various mandals to make this floral offering.

Seva Sadhna Mandal Pushpavrishti at Shroff Building, Lalbaug.
Seva Sadhna Mandal Pushpavrishti at Shroff Building, Lalbaug.
Ganesha drenched in the shower of love.
Ganesha drenched in the shower of love.

The Majesty himself
And last but not the least, the Bappa himself. The beautiful Ganpati idols slowly moving towards the seashore, en route his home is a purely overwhelming spectacle. The grandness of the idols humbles you down. An impulsive tear rolls down your cheek as you join hands and ask Bappa to come back soon.

Bappa on his way home.
Bappa on his way home.
Devotees dancing in front of the idol to give him the best farewell ever.
Devotees dancing in front of the idol to give him the best farewell ever.

Ganpati Bappa Morya!! Pudhchyaa varshi lavkar ya!!

Ganpati Bappa Morya!! Pudhchyaa varshi lavkar ya!!

 

How many things from this list do you also spot during the Visarjan day? If you feel there is more to add to this list, share your thoughts in the comments section.

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