"Glory lies in the attempt to reach one's goal and not in reaching it. " ~ Mahatma Gandhi


Kolkata: Character & Charm

Romola Butalia, Editor, India Travelogue, shares her impressions of the city of her birth.

Kolkata, or Calcutta as it was once called, is where it all began for me. It is the city of my birth, my childhood, my school days. For me it will always be a city of warmth, of friendship and of nurturing. I have since been at an objective distance from Calcutta, so neither nostalgia nor unresolved emotions colour my perspective of the city.

It has many flaws, but lack of character and emotions are not among them. It is a giant megapolis that has long struggled to cope with it's economic deficiencies and infra-structural shortcomings. It is not a city of wealth nor even of prosperity. It is the city of the middle-class...of the bhadralok (gentleman).

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In Kolkata, ladies, children, the aged and the infirm are still a privileged class...and in a bus, a conductor will always announce to the driver to take care when one disembarks. People still have the time to give a stranger directions, and have the inclination to stop and chat with one. The 'adda' or chat is what the Bengali thrives on. The concept of 'para' or neighbourhood as a focal point of living remains undiminished. The Bengali values intellect before money, and decades after still revels in the glory of it's poet son Rabindranath Tagore while thinking that Satyajit Ray is the only film-maker worth his salt. If Marxism is still alive anywhere, it is in Bengal.

Kolkata is a city of deprivation and of humanity, it is a city of poverty and of warmth ...it is after all where Mother Teresa made her home, among the poorest of the poor. It is a city that pulsates with life, with hope and with a certain sensitivity. It is a city with a heart.

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.