KOLKATA WALKS

The Sahib Town, The Native Town

A Shamik Bandyopadhyay signature walk focusing on the contrast between the Briton’s Calcutta & native’s Kolkata

A Life called Bazaar
A walk through Chitpur Road, the longest street market in the world

The Knowledge Street
A walk in & around Kolkata’s intellectual hub & biggest open air book market you have ever seen

Hungry Roads
A walk & tram ride around the town to city’s popular street food joints & the heritage eateries meant for certain recipes

Bengal Cuisine
A first hand experience starts in a daily market and is followed by a cooking & dining with a family known for authentic Bengal culinary

A Day with Durga
Take part in the largest festivity on earth, Durga Puja at Kolkata. Daily tours available on September 25 26, 27 & 28 this year

KOLKATA ANECDOTES

An overwhelming sea of humanity jostles by! Continuous blowing of horns by different vehicles, shouts of street vendors and other city noises create a cacophony of sounds! A protest march shouting slogans against the ruling political party or US hegemony goes by! Amidst all this chaos, a man sleeps peacefully sprawled on a pavement! Tucked around a busy street corner, a small historic church exudes peace and quietness. In heart of the city, lies the huge green expanse of Maidan (the field) having 100 years old rain trees and thick undergrowths, creating an illusion of a tropical forest from distance. Grand mansions of the Raj era speak about the imperialist dream of a lost empire! Modern high-rise buildings define the present skyline! Hawkers do a roaring business selling a variety of colorful wares by the side of fancy shopping malls offering international brands! A Jewish Synagogue being kept spotlessly clean by its Muslim caretakers!

Kolkata is a collage of images and moods. To truly appreciate Kolkata, one needs to feel the city. To an outsider, Kolkata might seem to be overwhelming and full of contradictions. But only to those with patience and insight, she reveals her true beauty. To understand Kolkata, one needs to understand her people. Friendly, philosophical, always ready to debate on any issue under the sun! Always ready to welcome a stranger as a friend!

Adda: Bengalis are passionate people. The detached indifference of the modern world is not for them. They love to get involved (even if from a distance) and make the past, present and the future of the world their personal concern. They love to debate and discuss; and feel that they have the right and the knowledge to comment about anything under the sun. 

Addas are informal gathering of friends (strangers are equally welcome) where you may hear many a passionate discussion about the current price-rise, a comparative discourse regarding similarities between different religions of the world, or an analysis of the strategies in the Iraq war which would have put a military commander to shame. Addas are free-flowing in nature with no pre-fixed agendas, one moves from one topic to another as smoothly and effortlessly as the rolling waves. Anybody may join in an adda or leave it at any point of time. No formal invitation or introduction is required as long as the newcomer feels “passionately enough” about a subject and thinks that he/ she has a point to make. All will listen eagerly before shredding it up in minutes. To the uninitiated, an adda session may look (or sound) like as if as if the participants are going to kill each other soon, but that’s what makes these sessions so lively. Addas are an extremely important part of Bengali life and psyche where they feel they can, and they do, fully exercise their “right of expression”.


Bengali Sweets: Bengal sweets, especially Rashogollas are world famous. Soft, spongy dumplings made of cottage cheese and dipped in sugar-syrup, a freshly made Rashogolla melts in your mouth leaving a yearning for more. Another famous Bengali sweet is Shandesh which is again primarily made out of cottage cheese, but in comes in a mind-boggling variety of shapes, sizes, consistency and taste. Kolkata has got an incredible range of sweets to offer, each distinctly different. Within the city limits, one can find at least 100 varieties of sweets of indigenous variety.


Global Kolkata: Kolkata has for long been a melting pot of Indian and International communities. The capital of British India from 1772 to 1911, Kolkata was the most important in Imperial Britain second only to London. This attracted people from all over the world in search of fortune. The first church was made in Kolkata by the Armenians. There was a sizable Greek community the last of whom migrated as late as in 1960’s. There were parsis, and the Jewish community of the city still runs a synagogue. The Chinese dominate the city’s landscape with their own China Town. Offsprings of association within and outside the bond of legal matrimony between the Europeans, specially the British, and the native Indians gave rise to a whole new community of Anglo-Indians with their distinctive synthesis culture.

This trend is continuing even today. People from all over India come to Kolkata for a living. The sizable Marwari community has made it their home for generations. Biharis, Tamils and people every part of India has come and settled here making Kolkata a truly cosmopolitan city.




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