Calcutta, my city. The place where you’ll find poetry in chaos, propitious rays among mundane monotony of life. The city brims with energy and is indulgent to indolence at the same time. Yes, it’s a city of contrast, cacophonously alive with a mishmash of apparently disjointed appendages.
Calcutta or Kolkata, as it is known today, is distinctly divided into two parts, the North and the South. Of course, there is no visible boundary, but one can feel the difference in the ambiance and attitude attributed to each. It is very much palpable. To a true Calcuttan, there is nothing like east or west, it’s only north and south!
Calcutta can drive you crazy with its amazing food, art, music, and culture. It is rightly called the cultural capital of India. Mystic saints, street artists, throngs of cultural buffs (popularly known as intellectuals or আঁতেল), opulent hotels and buildings along with an impoverished community, have made Calcutta a city of extremes. Once you are in the city, the city resides in your heart forever.
The credit as the founder of Calcutta goes to Job Charnock, an employee of the East India Company. Three villages, Kolikata, Gobindopur, and Sutanuti comprised the area of the city at that time, that is, more than 300 years ago. But Calcutta is evergreen, even with her age, she has not lost even a drop of her charm. Moreover, maturity has added sensuality to her.
Calcutta sits in the Ganga (Hooghly) river basin.The Howrah Bridge or Rabindra Setu, the only cantilever bridge of India, sprawling along the river is the signature landmark and gateway to the city.The Howrah Station is the busiest railway station in India. Another bridge, a comparatively new one, the Second Hooghly Bridge or Vidyasagar Setu is one of the longest cable-stayed bridge in Asia. Connectivity in Calcutta has some unique features as the trams and hand-pulled rickshaws. You’ll also find typical yellow taxis here, all of them being ambassador or fiat models. The old-fashioned hand-pulled rickshaws of the north are starkly juxtaposed with the underground metro rail services of the south. City of contrasts, it is.
The architecture of the city is a concoction of Victorian, Gothic, typical Bengal and contemporary. The serpentine lanes of North Calcutta, with rows of houses alongside, are in absolute contrast with the thoroughfare of the south. The Victoria Memorial is a vast, beautifully decorated building white marble building. The Old GPO building, with its central rotunda soaring nearly 40m around a statue of a lance-wielding mail runner, is another iconic building of the city. Raj Bhavan, Mother Teresa House, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Armenian Church of Nazareth (established 1707), an amalgamation of different ethnicity, class, culture and religion have given the city a unique colour over the years.
The people of Calcutta exhibit an amazing sense of connectivity even with strangers. It is perhaps, the only city in the world where one stops to talk with an outsider without any hesitation. A city leery of ‘bandh’, where the inhabitants love to dawdle, a city which knows to make you feel at home the moment you step in, a city where there is poetry in the air, painting on the roads and music in the hearts- is my city, Calcutta.
I am thankful to madeofgreat.tatamotors for giving me the opportunity to write about Calcutta, the city where I live, and the city which lives in me.