kolkata: city of joy


This post is written for BLOGESHWAR 7.0 and Anubhooti

A city is not its skyscrapers, its roads, its multiplexes, its employment opportune, its shops, its gleaming towers from where you can see miles ahead and all that flash. A city, as such, is its people, its life, its culture, its heritage, its history, its care, its warmth. A city is a soul and much like ever other city in the world, it’s a soul so pure, a soul so divine which if you close your eyes and feel, you will realize that it’s not a particular city that is good or bad, it’s just our perception or lack of adventure to bring about a change.

victoria memorial

Though I am a Purvanchali by origin I was born in the wonderful city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) and have grown and lived here ever since and my whole being is that of a person who belongs to this city with much respect and love not just because this is where home is but because Kolkata is one of those very few cities in the world of today that is ever so charming and welcoming to just about anyone. It’s a city of the richness of Tagore, Ray, Teresa and many stalwarts who are too many to be named here.

general post office, benoy badal dinesh bagh (dalhousie)

The ruins of Chandraketugarh (North 24 Parganas) prove that the place had been in continuous habitation since 400 BC but since nothing much had been documented much of the ancient history remains uncertain. The arrival of the British East India Company in 1690 and consolidation of villages in the marshlands of the Hugli saw the growth of Kolkata under the tutelage of various Englishmen including Job Charnock, Robert Clive and Richard Wellesley. The Battle of Plassey in 1757 saw the fortunes of the ruling Nawab of Bengal Siraj ud-Daulah dwindling and the resurgence of the Company which later took power in much of South Asia.

satyajit ray

Kolkata became an important trading point for the Company and many palaces in European architecture were constructed which made the city famous as the City of Palaces. It was made the capital of British India in 1772 and stayed so until 1911 when post partition of Bengal in 1905 on religious grounds a period of marked disturbances in the area forced the Britishers to shift the capital to New Delhi.

dakshineshwar kali temple

The city was an important junction for the Indian Independence Movement during the 19th Century and a burgeoning group of intelligentsia in the city during Bengal Renaissance saw a upliftment in the general lifestyle of people and saw the fame of the city grow widespread and it increasingly came to be known as the art capital of India (a reputation it enjoys till date). The city was bombed several times by Japanese forces during World War II, was shaken by a massive famine in 1943, and suffered the unrest of Direct action Day in 1946 and the partition of India in 1947. It is also prone to heavy monsoon rainfall and cyclonic disturbances.

durga puja

Post independence, the city saw a  rise of trade unionism, left-wing politics and Naxalism (left-wing extremism that has spread to various pockets of rural and tribal undeveloped India) which saw the city spiraling into oblivion despite being, at a point of time, known as the second capital of the world after London. Post the economic reforms of 1991 the reluctant Left Front government fearing widespread unemployment did open its gates and since then, because of the IT industry and the recent developments in real estate, retail etc the city has shown signs of bouncing back but definitely lags behind in opportunities compared to other major cities of India.

st paul's cathedral

This was about the city in its literal terms, a short snippet of an otherwise huge city which will take eons to write about. It is a city marred in the psyche of the Indians of today as the most laggard of the big cities with a reluctance to bounce back and work hard and amazingly, even the indigenous people of the city, the Bengalis, lambast the city once they go out and taste the lifestyle of an allegedly bigger and better city.

nakhoda masjid

I agree Kolkata has had a period of prolonged stagnation and couldn’t catch up with the growth of cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune or for that matter even Lucknow or Ahmedabad but it’s not a matter of development or the manholes or the lack of jobs or the strikes or the babudom that has inflicted the city but a matter of faith, a matter of grit to either overcome the problems or solve them. It’s easy to live in a world of denial, escapism and shifting loyalties. One may go on endlessly criticizing the food, culture, infrastructure and ethics of work because it hardly requires an effort but am sure it would be herculean to come out and bring about a change. The least we can do is to give our tongues some rest and do our bit to set forth and discover a city and find out how much it has to offer.

new town, rajarhat

I, for that matter, find solace in visiting even the smallest and most nondescript of towns and villages because I firmly believe, each and every city or place in this world has a unique charm of its own and has much to offer and teach us. We just need an eye to see, a mind to perceive and a brain to comprehend.

city of joy

I am proud of my city and will ever be. I am a stake holder in all its development and all its negativity. And not just me, it’s as much a city of every Indian as it is mine and the rise or fall of this wonderful city has an onus on each one of us. Common perceptions don’t help find solutions but reinforce them further. It’s about collective responsibility and breaking myths and causing a revolution. I will continue to love my lethargy, my Bengali sweets, my sweetened dal, my College Street, my Durga puja, my Esplanade, my jatra, my Hugli ghats, my Salt Lake city and employ every possible effort towards the growth of the city to better the prospects of the millions in its slums, the poisonous air, the massive unemployment, the dirty alleys, the neglected heritage buildings and parks but despite that Kolkata for me has always been and will always be the City of Joy.

(pics sourced from GOOGLE)

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12 responses to this post.

  1. Proud to be in Kolkata..

    Reply

  2. Vivek one day we can plan for a photo shoot out of Kolkata for the entire day..

    Reply

  3. thanks dude.. yeah, sure thing, there are many places yet to be explored..

    Reply

  4. very nice post.. this is the second one after Tikulli’s post.. keep it up

    Reply

  5. Posted by Anumita on 02/01/2011 at 12:39 pm

    onedurful blog yaar after a long time such a beautiful post from ur side.

    “We just need an eye to see, a mind to perceive and a brain to comprehend” <>
    if u wanna change, make it: “heart to feel” else leave as it is.

    Reply

  6. Wonderful fella,
    That was a nice read.
    Totally enjoyed it 🙂 🙂

    Reply

  7. Absolutely Brilliant Vivek. I love your photography and travel writing. Glad you did this post. I really loved reading it. Best to you.

    Reply

  8. wow! feel like visiting the city soon. loved the post and the pictures make it all the more beautiful:)
    good luck!

    Reply

  9. thanks anumita, muddassir, tikuli and sarah..
    many thanks for reading n liking it..

    Reply

  10. Posted by Anonymous on 14/01/2011 at 12:46 pm

    good write up for city of joy …I like pictures too

    Reply

  11. Posted by vivek singh on 17/03/2011 at 1:20 am

    awesum work bro!!! love to be a kolkatan!!

    Reply

  12. Posted by Swarnav on 25/09/2012 at 7:19 pm

    Luv u kolkata…..bestest of best city in the world….:)

    Reply

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