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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The Dying Remains of Awanti Swami Temple

Serendipity is travel’s favourite child. For at every turn you take, you’ll discover an experience you weren’t even expecting to encounter.

While on our way to Srinagar, our friend insisted that we must take a little detour and visit Awantipora. Please note that it wasn’t a polite proposal, but a clear instruction given directly to our driver. Throughout the way she campaigned for the site, saying that it was a shooting location in one of the famous Bollywood films; and that we must visit such a prime spot that contributed in the evolution of Indian Cinema. In short, she just didn’t leave us with any choice. Well, I’ll always be grateful to her stubbornness.

We reached the ruins of Awanti Swami Temple in Awantipora (Awantipur), located between Anantnag and Srinagar. And, boy oh boy, we were enthralled.

The entrance of Awanti Swami Temple, Awantipora
The entrance of Awanti Swami Temple, Awantipora.

What we were witnessing were nothing less but the ruins of an entire era captured in grey limestone.

The entry fee to this temple is measly Rs. 10. The Government Tourist Guide was happy to see us, as we were the only visitors at that point. The guide was earnestly telling us about the tale of this temple, built to praise Lord Vishnu.

The ruins of Awanti Swami Temple, Awantipora
The ruins of Awanti Swami Temple, Awantipora

Hundreds, or may be, thousands of years ago, a catastrophic earthquake ruined this beauty. But they say, the real beauty cannot stay hidden for too long. Soon it was resurrected by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Awantipora 3
A close up of the carvings

Each niche was dedicated to the Gods and Goddesses of Indian Mythology. Each pillar, each stone restored to life was telling a story. But unfortunately, there weren’t too many ears to listen to them. There are so many architectural wonders like this craving for visitors, be it connoisseurs or mere tourists.

Would these unheard stories die a sad, silent death in spite of getting raised from the dead in the past? I hope not.

That's my friend I'll always be thankful to.
That’s my friend I’ll always be thankful to.

P.S. This temple was not used as a filming location. But, who cares! The visuals recorded in our memories are far better than anything else!

 

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