Some Charms of Kolkata
Every time I visit Kolkata, the city appears with a new look and meaning to me. In a way, I rediscover it. The novelties are just not about the changing landscape, tall buildings and expansive, glamorous billboards but about life-styles.
The very arrival at the state-of-the-art Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (a regional topper in the engineering services category) bears intimation of a new vibrancy awaiting you as you drive into the city, especially the newly built spaces.
So much for the optical and material side to Kolkata today, turn now to some interesting add-ons to life- style
Park Street is lined on both sides by some famous restaurants and eatery joints .The Chapeli Kebab corner, a very inconspicuous – looking eatery on the outside but full up inside, has entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the sheer number of customers it caters for, daily.
Actually, Kolkata is a gourmet city for some obvious reasons. Demography is a strong contributory factor to its rich food culture. Cuisines of different states are on offer to suit the palate of people of adjoining states who have made Kolkota their home. The Bengalis who had migrated to West Bengal on partition of the subcontinent came with their cuisine which in some respects was different from that of the original West Bengalis. But in time they merged seamlessly. The Muslims constituting between 27 and 29 percent of West Bengal population have influenced Kolkata's gourmet culture. The Mughal ,Lucknavi, Kashmiri and Hyderabadi delicacies are popular .
Nostalgia seems to play a part in it. The second or third generation progeny of migrants from what was formerly East Pakistan are showing a craze for restaurants boasting Barisaler mach ranna, Goalandoer Elish , Comilla-vintage Paturi mach et all. They are just taking cue from their grandfather or grandmother who wistfully ruminate over such long-lost dishes, so to speak and fall for the latest nostalgic rage, as it were.
There is also a surge of biryani shops in Kolkata so much so that Dhaka can perhaps no longer claim a monopoly over the delicacy.
Kolkata is multi-lingual almost in a sense that New York or London is. Bangla is subsumed in the cacophony of different tongues any assortment people speak in. West Bengalis are taking to English and Hindi in a way that Bangla may be confined to their homes only in the near future. One West Bengali lamented to me that someday Bangladesh will be the sole torch-bearer of the Bangla language. Is this a compliment, I wonder; for proficiency in different languages is a powerful vehicle for wider and more meaningful communication with the rest of the world.