November 01, 2012

Oh, Calcutta!

This was a trip for my father, who has always been an admirer of Bengali greats such as Rabindranath Tagore, Sharath Chandra Chatterjee and Satyajit Ray. I myself have always wanted to visit Calcutta and Shantinikentan. And so we went -- my parents, aunt, my children and I -- three generations, each keeping an eye on the other for different reasons! We were there bang in the middle of Pujo and discovered that, despite warnings to the contrary, this is the best time to be in Calcutta. You don't have to do anything special....you just need to do 'pandle hopping' and be entertained.

Apart from this, the city is frozen in time, sans the glitter and malls of modern cities, somewhat a picture of neglect, and one cannot help wishing that they would at least take good care of the grand old edifices that line the roads. The yellow Ambassador cabs, the tram that suddenly makes an appearance, the rickshaws, the rust and green edifices, the festive lights, the sweets...all give Calcutta its very own character and charm. It is a lovable city. 


The famous yellow cabs of Calcutta, that have been around for a 100 years. 
Heard they will soon make way for new kids on the block. 

The tram appears suddenly; it is lovely!

 The very first Durga we saw, outside Kalighat mandir

Durgas everywhere

 An old sweet shop at Kalighat

I loved the artistic lamp posts of Calcutta

Another Durga...I call this the Midas Durga!

A lot of ads feature the lady of the month...including the Lux Cozi innerwear ad!

The clocktower in New Market...our hotel was right next to it, 
and it had the gentlest gong every quarter hour

 These were the surprises I loved as we walked down Calcutta roads... 

...another surprise...

...and another! LP records being sold like CDs! 
We still have some of the records seen here.

Tagore's house...we couldn't go in because of Puja holidays. 
But, why do I feel like I have been there before?


 This was the most delightful pandle we saw! 
All the dolls and decorations were made of wood. 
It looked like the South Indian bommala koluvu.  

The cute deities. I am quite sure these are not immersed.

Outside Mother Teresa's home...

 We were lucky to be at the riverside when the visarjan started 

Time to bring her down from the truck 

Down she came... 

I found this Durga ensemble rather bizarre 

Tagore is everywhere, but this statue is near Amar Kutir
on the banks of Kopai river in Shantiniketan 

 The meditation hall in Shantiniketan. With artistic lighting, it looks superb even at night.

This was Debendranath Tagore's house 

Our gang outside Vishwabharathi University

My father with his grandchildren at the very place
where Tagore sat, taking Hindi lessons 

Strange plant, with inflorescence like plaits...I need to find out what this is.

Edit: I subsequently tried very hard to find out the name of this plant, and finally it was identified by Venkat Vadva of the Hasiru Group, through Sugunasri Maddala. It is called Desmodium pulchellum (Angel's locks).     

 The mural was done by the renowned artist K G Subramanyam, 
who studied at Kala Bhavan and taught there too.

Another mural by KG...Shantiniketan truly makes one's soul happy...

 ...and fearless!

Love you, Kolkata!
Take care.



_______
Photos: Copyright Sadhana Ramchander. Please leave a comment asking for permission if you want to use any photos. 

























1 comment:

Sameer S said...

Sadhana - this was a really lovely post. I visited Calcutta once and was also very taken by it. I was able to visit the Victoria Museum which was really beautiful though pretty run-down.