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Kolkata

In Ramblings #1, Aditi wrote Mumbai is a city, Bombay is an emotion. I loved that line. Speaking of her writings, if you haven’t read her Alliteration poem, GO READ IT RIGHT NOW! It is seriously awesome!

Anyway, getting back to the topic, Bombay and Mumbai. Sort of like Calcutta and Kolkata. Anglicised names being swapped for a more local flavour. But Kolkata is a city, just as much as Calcutta. Nobody makes much of a distinction. What is special is its soul. Kolkata is alive. It talks to you. You don’t live in Kolkata. You live with it.

Anybody who’s stayed in Kolkata will tell you, its chaotic. Pretty dirty in some places. Occasionally downright squalid. But Kolkata grows on you. And you’ll fall in love in spite of yourself, along with around 15 million proud Calcuttans sharing the city, you’ll realise, the quaint yellow taxis and the battered trams are a flavour you won’t get anywhere on earth.

Google Kolkata. You’ll see pictures of a magnificent bridge spanning the Hooghly, the world’s longest cantilevered bridge, Rabindra Setu; a beautiful white dome with an angel on top, the Victoria Memorial; the yellow HM Ambassador taxis and such things. This is one side of Kolkata. There are also hundred, two hundred year old buildings built so close to each other, they share walls. Not boundary walls, the wall of the entire building. There’s the Ganga, marking one of Kolkata’s boundaries. People bathe in the ghats, jumping off stone jetties for their daily dip at 6 am. You’ll find plenty of pictures of Kolkata’s annual gala, Durga Puja, a 5 day festival where the entire city comes to a standstill as the goddess Durga comes home.You might find our swanky new airport, our grand old railway station, all of it. People who have seen Piku (2015) will know a lot of this. But you probably won’t find the Kolkata I’m talking about.

[Incidentally, do give the sarod theme from Piku a listen, it’s lovely.
https://youtu.be/8C8ZyYnqOZs]

You see, no picture can probably capture what Kolkata is. Words will fall short too. Kolkata’s essence, well, it has to be felt. Waiting at an intersection, a bike rider knocks on your car door, and as you turn to him wearily he tells you that the door isn’t shut properly, that’s Kolkata reaching out to you. The taxi driver helping his aged passenger to his home, carrying in the luggage, that’s Kolkata and it’s caring touch. The tired old policeman at the intersection lecturing yet another kid as he was walking by blindly, engrossed in Pokemon GO, that is Kolkata, keeping you safe. The city loves you, and before you know it, you love it back.

It is pretty difficult to not love a city with sweet shops on every alternate street, and with a population of Bengalis (Bongs). Kolkata has probably the richest street food tradition in India. And, no matter what the Lucknowi and Hyderabadi purists say, Kolkata’s biriyani (it’s a rice and meat dish) is legitimate, proper biriyani. All the food is amazing, the streets are lined with lush greenery, there’s beautiful architecture and the people, well, they are the people of the City of Joy. They are what makes the city.

Cliched as it may sound, you need to come to Kolkata in order to understand it, to feel it. The warmth, the love, the caring embrace of the city is unmatched. There are big, swanky, modern cities, quaint old fashioned little nooks, cities on the way to somewhere else, cities that change every ten years. And then there’s Kolkata. For pure heart, no city comes close.

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Rambling #1

AS: *clears throat* *smoothens shirt* *nervously glances around*

Hi, reader. If you exist. I honestly don’t know if this blog is going to change lives, change the world, or even improve my writing skills. I don’t know if I’m going to vent here, rant here, pour my heart out or clinically recite my daily activities. But you know, the butterfly effect… small causes can have large effects…?

 

SK: *strides onstage confidently, trips, recovers. Incidentally, that’s me in almost all situations*

Yes. We’re here to… heck, we’re here because we want to be. And we’re putting up this blog jointly, because I’m too lazy to do it alone, and she, though a fantastic writer, thinks she’s not good enough. I know I am nothing great, but she is, so rest assured, you’ll have good content.

 

AS: *rolls eyes* Thanks Suchit, that doesn’t put any pressure on me at all.

 

SK: Well, that’s the intention, to keep it as light as possible.

Incidentally, mandatory disclaimer:
Any resemblance to persons real or imaginary is purely coincidental. Karma (not Aditi and me, Newton’s third law kind) takes responsibility for any wrongdoing. Not suitable for children who haven’t been taught to read yet. Choking hazard: Contains small parts. May contain peanuts. Not meant for people who are…

 

AS: Yes, I think everybody gets the gist. Basically we totally might refer to real people on our not-so-real college campus (oh wait, was that supposed to be a secret?), and if someone thinks it’s them, we shall shake our heads and shrug our shoulders.

 I feel like we’ve not said our hellos, so without further ado, I present to you Suchit Kar, a pretty good writer as you shall soon see, my fellow English Language Activities Society member, and one of the funniest, nicest and less-judgemental-than-most humans on the said campus, who occasionally pats my head and comments on my height. Or lack thereof. Also, extremely nerdy, is into random fandoms that I don’t even know exist, and does cool techno stuff on college fest websites.

 And I’m Aditi Sharma, a tiny human being who strongly is of the opinion that great things come in small packages. I rarely ever switch off my laptop because my Google chrome tabs are extremely precious, I stay hungry sometimes because the kitchen seems too far away (I swear I’m not lazy, it really is miles away from the couch), and if I could, I’d want to work at a quaint bookstore-café. Even though that probably sounds very mainstream.

 

SK: And I happen to be Suchit Kar, supposedly studying in the same hypothetical campus as this teeny tiny person. I sleep, and then wake up, decide the day isn’t worth the effort, go back to sleep. Then my mum wakes me. I love food too, and unlike AS, I would rather be not-lazy, than go hungry. Incidentally, I’m from Bengal, and the people there are affectionately called Bongs

 

AS: MISHTI DOI MISHTI DOI MISHTI DOI. Sorry. Go on.

 

SK: Yes, that. So the two of my defining characteristics are an overwhelming love of food, and incredible laziness. I, my friends, am a Bong par excellence. Also, our great gift to mankind, more sweets than you can name and MISHTI DOI, a sweet curd which tastes like the heavens on a spoon.

 

AS: Since we’re talking about our geographical backgrounds, I’m what they call a “pakka Bumbaiyya”. In other words, I’ve been born and brought up in Mumbai, the city of dreams. And traffic. I’ve grown up on the metaphorical Bombay soil. Yep, I do know that it is now officially Mumbai, but calling it Bombay is just another thing we Mumbaikars do. Because after all, Mumbai  is a city, but Bombay… Bombay is an emotion.

 I’m kind of biting my fingernails right now because Roger Federer is barely hanging on in Wimbledon. No, Rafa fans please stay, I respect that man immensely and I’ve even read Rafa: My Story and admired his dedication. But I’m a Federer fan through and through.

 

SK: Fedex forever! Okay, that is close. Controversial point there. Um, so beloved reader, you see, I love that man’s game. *_* That backhand. I don’t play much, but he’s poetry in motion and such a delight to watch. Aditi here is boiling over, Federer is struggling. I’m manfully holding back my screams. Anyway, I will go and focus on the match. This blog will be mostly informal little things like these, and occasional discourses from either of us on “how to life”. So, friends, adieu. See you at some point in the near future. OH, HE’S BACK! AND HE’S PLAYING TO WIN NOW! BYE!

 

*30 minutes and a whole lot of swooning, agonising, praying and lip biting later*

 

AS: He won!!!!!! I just barely survived a myocardial infarction (yes, I take pride in saying smart things and pretending to sound smart).

 I hope you enjoy our amateur attempt at collaborative blogging. Fare thee well.