The Nostalgia of Calcutta

77 thoughts on “The Nostalgia of Calcutta”

  1. As I sit reading your beautifully introspective post, I get a coughing fit (from a very bad cold) and I am very reluctant to leave and attend to it. So, I get a little mucus on the keyboard and monitor – That’s what handy wipes were made for. It was really a joy to read and experience your thoughts and emotions about being back in Calcutta. Hope your visit was as good for you as it was for me to read 😉 – Neek

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bully for the cold, you shall conquer it with wipes and lots of tea. Maybe some hot chocolate too? Thank you Neek for braving it to read my melancholic thoughts. Returning to Calcutta always does it to me even though I find it soothing to be at home. It has been a wonderful trip though I do feel awful about this process of ageing that is so obvious in my parents. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your trip in such eloquent words and generous amount of photos. Things are changing there quite quickly but you are bang on… not quick enough on the women’s right front.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure Annika and thank you for indulging my lengthy post. The friend I mention is from the Marwari community. I am not sure if you have heard of it. But it is insular. My heart tore for my friend. We went to the same school yet how she has to struggle for the things I take for granted. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It must be strange returning to a childhood home/neighbourhood after being away for a while. Everything would look slightly different from all your memories there. We moved a lot growing up, but everytime I return to an old neighbourhood, I can’t help but think how different everything looks. I love all the photos you shared as always 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you my sweet. It makes me maudlin — going back home. Bittersweet. Man is conditioned to fight change, right? If you have moved around you would relate to it. I wish things would change for the better you know. But in India, the ever-growing population is a sword, dangling above its neck. xx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You got that word, Tracey. That it is bittersweet. The feeling will stay on for a few weeks now before it slowly fades away as I go home to my routine. I hated leaving my parents behind this time.
      Big Ben…hah, the Chief Minister of Calcutta is a megalomaniac woman with an odd vision for the city. I bet she would be interesting to interview. xx

      Like

  4. This trip would have definitely bought back memories for you Arundhati. An emotional one no doubt! I loved your photos, felt like I was there with you somehow. Would have been lovely though to taste your mums home cooking again. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It did Lorelle. It feels so normal to slip into life at my childhood home. I love it inside more than outside. Thank you, I have more photos as you can imagine 🙂 I shall miss my mother’s cooking immensely and strangely her too even though we spar a fair bit. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Obvious mixed emotions but it’s amazing to have a family and friends gathering from 4 continents! Glad your mum was well enough to cook her delicious meals. I’ve also returned to a childhood location recently. I must write something about it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would love to read about your emotions from revisiting your childhood place. It is a cocoon of sorts but it can also unsettle you. It was a lovely feeling to have spent time catching up with all my friends and family…even though with family it is more of a mixed plate. Look forward to your post.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s funny you write about change today as I’ve spent the morning thinking about the proposed changes to my small town and thinking about how much I dislike change and how powerless you feel in its wake:(. I hope the change to come is more good than bad for both of us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you AJ. We are prone to resisting to change, is it not? If it is for the good, we can reconcile ourselves to it. But the dilemma is when you can see, it is not. Let’s hope because hope is what we do and can have. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I say ôtent and brought my children up on the words ‘everything changes, nothing stays the same’. It is bittersweet …. and you capture this hauntingly, beautifully, dreamingly, wakingly in this so touching post. Your words like needles restless in my heart, niggling my own memories whilst bathing in yours. For those of us that live far from our birth families and that place that will always be home however settled and delighted we are with our spread wings lives, I think visits back are the sharpeners to our emotions, emotions that we don’t even realise we carry so carefully and that can upset our equilibrium in a totally innocent way so easily. The sands of time shift and settle again. This is a beautiful piece, DD and I have tears as I write this remark. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You touch me with your heartfelt remark, Osyth. You do get the right words always and I appreciate the time you take to put them down. It is upsetting to accept changes, but as you rightly emphasise upon it, it is the rite of life, and who are we to deny it? Bisous 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is our path and to be embraced but a little pathos in the way we feel it is entirely acceptable. I guess what I mean is, rather than resisting we must appreciate but that we are allowed to feel the tinge of sadness, sometimes acutely along the way 🙂 xx

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jen! Sentiments overwhelmed me as I left and this time around they have been overpowering. I hope it is not a portent. Parents and partners and pets, you should be able to travel with them into the other realm if there is any. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Beautiful photographs! You painted the picture of nostalgia and the tangible feeling of time passing by so well…. it’s scary how much can change and how quickly. In the past 5 years alone, a lot of the buildings I grew up with in my area have knocked down, a new shopping centre has opened up and skyrises have gone up. The world just keeps changing! ;-l; xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, my lovely! It is so unsettling, the change that comes with time, Mia. I can empathise with your mixed feelings as the old melts down before your eyes and the new shoves its way in. For those times, when you feel that twinge of discomfort and yearning for what was, hugs. xx

      Like

  9. Wow what a beautiful post. You wrote everything that I often feel when I visit my hometown, Kathmandu, the way I never could. You have a gift for writing! Love all the photos too – I never knew that Calcutta was such a vibrant, colorful city. But then again, what big city in India isn’t right?
    Chili chicken and everything else looks scrumptious! We have a slightly different version of it in Nepal – and so far my home-made version of it has been the most preferred Nepalese dish among my foreign friends, hehe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Pooja. Going back to Calcutta always makes me emotional and this time it was particularly so because I had time enough to feel the various emotions and let them seep in. Calcutta is a kind of a fruit punch. You either love it or hate it. But it has colour and drama in spades.
      I bet your friends love your version of Chilli Chicken. If you have ever had Indo Chinese, that particular style of cooking belongs to the Chinese community in Calcutta. xx

      Like

  10. “A strange goodness spreads like a halo around my head as I eat these simple and subtle flavours.” Loved this. LOVED it!

    I laughed at the photo with Adi looking like he wanted to be somewhere else … 🙂

    Oh! the photo from your library room. And the one peeking framed by the window. So interesting!

    Thanks, Dippy-Dotty Girl! So many travels. I was exhausted just reading where and what you did! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hah Adi does look as grim as when he is in the grips of hunger 😉 Oh how I miss this moment of us just walking around after he had a solid snooze in the afternoon.
      I love standing on the verandah of my library room for there is a frangipani tree in front of it that in summer flowers fragrant. Earlier there used to be a pink bougainvillea too which climbed all the way to the top of the house but then it started corroding the iron grill around the verandah and had to be taken down. Memories. Sigh. You brought them tumbling by just commenting about the frames there 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

  11. So moving this one and I COMPLETELY understand what you have said and also, what you have not. This time when I visited home (Indore), I was devastated to see that the old banyan tree in our neighborhood, under which an old mechanic used to sit pumping air in my red bicycle, while I sat on the nearby rock chatting with him….had been chopped off. They will construct a multi-story on that land they said, and I am sure if I would have been present at the time of chopping, I would have done everything but climb up on the branch to protest against it. There are no kids who play in our building’s veranda nowadays..all are busy on their phones and i-pads. I stand at the balcony and see my youngs elf and my friends looking for suitable stones to play ‘langdi-taang’ around the pit of sand across the road. Gone are those days love, but those memories will always be safe in our hearts!

    FYI, I really want to visit Calcutta some day and contrary to the popular belief, it is not only to see how a ‘phuchka’ is different than a ‘golgappa’! 😉 😀 😀 Your pictures are making me salivate. So glad that you had such a nice visit home! Lovely post! xx

    P.S- hubbys seem hilarious for days after our return home, isn’t it? Mine did everything but push me inside the kitchen straightaway, to make him a decent meal after days of eating out!! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am snickering here and thinking how the scenario here was the very twin of yours in Ireland. Working backwards here, Adi was whining about the waning number of frozen food boxes in the freezer and could I please get back asap. Such love.

      You will love Calcutta because it is the king of good (and importantly cheap) food. And old-world hospitality is still at work there. Phuchkas might just steal your heart but hey a disclaimer: they do it quite inadvertently 😛

      An old banyan tree, memories of you chatting with the mechanic and the routine of your childhood — it sounds so disarmingly simple and charming. I am sorry to hear that the pleasure of its presence has been lopped away. How dare they? I often end up talking about how we mastered the art of idling away our time with seemingly silly pursuits instead of having to rely on man’s many electronic inventions. We are stars 😉 xx

      Like

  12. You have captured Calcutta so well. You have a beautiful way with words, I travelled right along with you.
    I hate when we look for our older loved ones and they are no longer there.
    Hate the miserable looking “modern” houses and flats that come up.
    I love the colours, rangoli patterns, ornate ornamental displays and marigold patches.
    What to say, typical Indian here 🙂

    Like

    1. Hello Kavita, thank you for your lovely words. The changes that come along with time are unsettling and those bittersweet feeling can overwhelm us. I love everything old and I believe at times that I am 360 years old. How can an Indian not be typical? 🙂

      Like

      1. A case in point: entering a French Boulangerie at 4PM, when they have just taken out the warm bread from the oven. 🙂
        (Or fresh-baked nan?)

        Like

  13. Lovely images. I can’t claim to have been to this city many times, most of my trips have been quick and short – attending social functions and flying back. To be honest, I look at kolkata differently. To me, Kolkata is like a city that’s stuck in time, like frozen. And it is exactly this that renders its own charm. Its a city that defies the current times, wanting to do things in its own way. I hope to go back and explore more. Someday…perhaps! I enjoyed this write up of yours.

    Like

    1. Hello Arv, thank you. Kolkata can be a mixed basket. People tend to have extreme reactions to it. They either hate it or they avow irrevocable love for it. But yes, it does deal in nostalgia. That little fact itself lodges it in my heart apart from the other that it is the repository of my childhood years. Hope you get to explore it the best way it should be … through the stomach.

      Like

      1. Ha ha! I get what you mean. Personally, I didn’t like it when I first visited it a decade ago. But when I explored it this year, my thoughts​changed. 😊

        Like

    2. And thank you for the feedback you left on my profile page. It is delivered straight to my inbox instead of showing up on the comments page. Cheers.

      Like

      1. Not at all necessary. I switched to a self-hosted account at the start of the year and it has taken time to get used to the nuances of the change.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s