Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Jontonas and more...

Bah. Holidays are over. I have so much to write about the Kolkata trip but all of a sudden I am blank. Its like tabula rasa, blank slate! I had great fun though and learnt a lot of new bong words like-niramisi which means vegetarian food, jontonas which means suffering [I think!] and sabooj which means the color green.

I had a gala time traveling in the metros and the antique tram. I had my fill of puchchkas, chur-mur and jhalmuris. If you are in Kolkata you just cannot miss the street food there. Its just yummm... and don't even think of the hygiene [much better than Mumbai]. Every city has its flavor and charm. But the soul of Kolkata is different. It let's you fit in, doesn't push you around like Mumbai and you don't have to ape anybody. Here life goes on in its own pace. Nobody seems to be in a hurry. Life in general is not about money. The old heritage buildings in the heart of the city stand there sleepily and they look like they have many tales to tell.

The Indian Coffee House at College street is the hub for the now pseudo-intelligent crowd. But it had it's days as the only place where the thinkers from the Renaissance era gathered to ponder upon life in general. The Paramount juice house gives you the old world charm again. But it was the College street that I loved the best! Books and so many books...I could spend days and days going through them. It is like a haven for book lovers. You name the book and they might have it. [I bought English translations of the Gitanjali and Sesher Kobita by Rabindranath Tagore.]

Another plus point about Kolkata is that the cost of living here is cheap. Food is cheap and the quantity is more. The Magnolia and the BBQ at Park Street reminded me of one of the Colaba Cafes. Shopping is brilliant here if you love saris. Beginning at Rs 250, saris at Adi Dhakeshwari,  will get you practically any type of cotton and silk under one roof. [I bought 15 sarees in total]

Places of worship like Kalighat and Dhakhineshwar lend you an experience that are calm and serene. Once you are done with th darshan at Dhakhineshwar, you can enjoy a beautiful sunset at the Ganga ghat near by. If you have the time you can take a ride across the Hoogli river.

This was my second trip to Kolkata [I went way back in 2001] and I was to tour the city. The climate was amazing and the wedding was awesome fun.

My cousin had a traditional bong wedding along with a church wedding. For the church wedding we traveled to Asansol but did not see anything there as the wedding kept us busy.

Now everything mentioned above reads very smooth but I do have a few funny things to share:

I met this pishima [aunt] who is really old. My mother had told me stories about her from her last visit but I forgot. She is nice in general this old lady, but weird. When you wake up in the morning, she asks you about lunch. During lunch she would ask you about dinner and to add to our woes, during dinner she would ask everyone that in the morning whoever wants to go to the loo must do so as soon as possible. WTF!

Being old she dozed off during the wedding ceremony. Soon we realised that she was mumbling in her sleep and that she would topple off the chair anytime. But she woke up before that and yelled asking.. "khe nao baba, ko nau...[ eat child eat!]". Bah.

Worst was what happened in Asansol! Old pishima and her daughter were on the stage. Suddenly her grandson came and she caught hold of his hand and yelled, "Aee bathroom kore eli?" [Did you go to the loo?]. The poor boy never came near her the whole night. 

I had the opportunity to watch Patolbabu Filmstar by Purba Paschim, a play based on Satyajit Ray's short story. [I shall upload the review soon] 

I had so much of luchi-torkari each morning that I cannot think of it eating it anytime soon. It is almost the staple diet [breakfast] for people there!

More updates later!


Souravji said...

Hi Nikita! Seriously I enjoyed your writing. Kolkata seemed more beautiful through your writing. 'Antique Tram' you haven't noticed a few high-tech one? Don't remind me of the street foods, they are really great!

Yes adda (gossip) in Kolkata is incomplete without coffee house.My first visit to college street was same as yours. As I am a book-worm, college street is heaven for me. Wow! Both books you bought are masterpiece.

After visiting Mumbai last month I can understand when you say cost of living in Kolkata is much cheap :p
BBQ is really great, had college farewell party there. 15 Sarees!!! Great!

Yes you just reminded me, my visit of Kalighat and Dakshineswar, it's been long, I should visit once again soon.

And to talk about traditional wedding, how was it? Seen all the rituals? Isn't it little complex? But really interesting!

I am really glad that you enjoyed your visit so much. Take care.

Saurangshu Kanunjna said...

:) Mone hoche khub bangla sikha hoi che… rite .. Good to read the experience.. give or take.. Calcutta has its own charm.. I guess every city has its plus and minus, Cal has its own beauty with its own flaws.. .. no matter what, I love the city… :)

Nikki said...

@ Souravji

Hey thanks for visiting. You know I love Mumbai but I don't mind going back to Kolkata every now and then!

@ Saurangshu

:) Hhai onek kichu shikhe eshchi! :)

Himanshu said...

@ Nikki - Next stop - New Delhi! :)

Nikki said...

@ Himanshu

Yes! :)

Standbymind said...

Looks like you had some fun of ur life...
I wanna eat some on that stuff tooo!!!

Standbymind said...

And Welcome Back!!

R. Ramesh said...

n- welcome back..have u brought the rosgullas u promised.wait will pick it up dec end..and tell H, next stop is not's mumbai...u better warn him that he should be in mumbai december end..he is scared of u heheh...:)

Nikki said...

@ Standbymind

Thanks buddy!

@ R.Ramesh

He has been placed so he will head to Delhi and to my horror I could not carry any rosogullas! :(

Dhirubhai said...

I thought you knew bengali :)

I hope Cal is as good as ur writing skills!!

And, yes.. I would love to travel on one of those trams!!

India Coffee House in CP is a well known place too.. but its charm has receded over the years :(

ani_aset said...

Hi you have so mush to write ;) wheres all the mush LOL kidding :D..gosh i miss jhalmuri :(
Hhe that aunty is sweet no ;)

Nikki said...

@ Dhirubhai

Yes the place is worth visiting! Plan a trip then!

@ ani_set

Point noted. :)and that aunty was not sweet!

ZB said...

wow, i have to come to bongland now....vivid and nice account. TC:)

blunt edges said...

i ain't much of 'seeing-places' kinda guy...but the street-food part definitely got me interested!!!

a cool tribute 2 a cool city :D

Scribblers Inc said...

you just killed me with all the murdered me!!I want luchi torkari!!! waaaaaaah!! :[

Scribblers Inc.

P.S.-Comin to delhi?? Serious?

Nikki said...

@ ZB

Thanks ya!

@ Blunt_edges

You must go there! :)

@ Scribblers Inc

Hahaha....I cannot have luchi torkari for a long time now!

aniketh_375 said...

Haven't been to Kolkata.Though I wish I was present there when Maradona made a visit last year

Sujoy Bhattacharjee said...

That was a lot of Kolkata in one trip. You seem to have brought back with you the Kolkatan's obsession with food. And you are quite lucky not to have experienced one of the perennial strikes and bandhs in this politically volatile city.

PS: Listen to Manna Dey's nostalgic song centered around Coffee House, captures much of the mood during its heydays.

buckingfastard said...

ooo...u mean jontona....i first thot it was some roman name!! :)

nothing more to add to wat u described...

made me miss my own city allover again!!!

eye-in-sty-in said...

Love jhalmuri! Old aunts can be fun... Mine just woke me up from my sleep and asked me for computer advice on the phone... She went on for 20 minutes after I told her I was asleep :P

Nikki said...

@ Aniketh_375

Maradona or must visit the city!

@ Sujoy Bhattacharjee

Yes...I heard the song! My bro is a fan!

@ buckingfastard

What is keeping you away from the city?

Nikki said...

@ eye_in_sty_in

It is fun when she is your own aunt! Bah it was ok for a while! :)

Vemana said...

Nice! Kolkatta I want to go. It seems like Hyderabad in lots of ways except 2. you need money here and you wont get any books here.
Road pe khana or any khana at all Hyd rocks. Same goes with jewellery, saris etc. General Bazaar hai na.

When it comes to your pishima i guess poor thing must have been busy managing the household all her life, feeding and cleaning the children, those are still on her mind. Who knew a simple routine could have such lasting damage.

And yes, a review like this of nayi dilli might be nice as you are soon headed there next. But somehow I know it CANT top Kolkatta or even Mumbai.

Avick Chakraborty said...

Both of you come to Kolkata again... Let Himanshu feel the difference & nostalgia of culture, locations & people... :)

Nikita Banerjee Bhagat said...

@ Avick

Hi Dada,

Thank you for the comment. I definitely want to come to Kolkata with Himanshu. Will plan soon :)


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