A batch mate of mine from college wrote to me on FB the other day.
Can’t claim to have been, what they call BFF nowadays, when we were in college. We were both at Mumbai after college. Bumped into each other once at Snow Bite, the ice cream shop years back.
End of story.
Till there was Facebook and we connected again. We found out that we had a common passion for food. Something which was irrelevant in the relatively impoverished college days. She lives far away now and we talk about food across countries and continents. I heard in a recent dinner with college folks that she is married to a chef. Never asked her.
Then got this mail from her (J) in my FB inbox a few days back and our conversation started:
J: “Hi, need some dope on Cal - you seem like a good person to ask.
I myself have not much clue beyond what I knew 10 yrs ago! :-/ Nor do I know many people there anymore...
Do you know some cool places? Eat, drink, live music are my areas of interest :)
All tips very welcome! Especially a nice place for an aperitif and one for a special dinner.
Was hoping to steer clear of 5-star hotels and find something cool/quirky/charming. More an 'experience', if you know what I mean :)
Have some pointers? Don't mean to be a pain, though... ;)”
Me: Well like all migrants I am stuck in a time warp. I stick to old favs during my limited days at Cal, Hardly go anywhere new. This is where I head: biryani shiraz, flurys - breakfast or coffee, mocambo fish a la diana, devilled crab, Chinese jimmy's kitchen, bong kewpies. oly pub for grunge. discovered a new place at south city mall which i like for Thai - Banjorang.
Here's my link to the cal write ups http://www.finelychopped.net/search/label/Calcutta%20reviews if it helps can put u on to my younger bro who used to go out q bit before he left for gurgaon... knows of more new gen places
J: I kind of thought so, but I gave it a shot :) Yeah, it always feels 'enough' to revisit the places that push the nostalgia button. Besides, the 'new gen' places I heard of sounded too generic to waste the limited time on.
So I was actually hoping for something new, yet quaint, with 'Cal character'..when I said 'cool', I didn't mean fashionable - more quirky cool :)
If your brother knows something, I could write him, but I don't want to be a pain!
Btw, you know anything of this Floatel?
Thanks a lot, Kolly! :)
Me: Cal is hardly into quirky. It wants to be Mumbai
J: I've seen that. Sad. Cal was a prime candidate for 'quirky'. Which is why I hoped...
Me: The quirky Bengalis have left cal :)
J: You're probably right... From what I've seen, it's the Great Hand of homogenization at work there...clinical and characterless
Me: Yes walk through park street. Every restaurant has big glass fronts. Anything new is either kitsch or part of chains and standardized
And this is when the penny dropped. I was behaving like a typical migrant. Rooted to the past. Pooh poohing the past. Claiming to be in a much better place. Rubbishing my origins.
I was guilty of the sort of boorish behaviour that I have seen in Indian expats abroad who, once away, rubbish everything about ‘back home’. They would be the first to upload links on things going wrong in India today. From their highs of Team Anna and corrupt India to the lows of Team India in cricket and the bomb blasts in between. There was someone who even wished India a happy independence day recently and congratulated India from entering the ‘space age’ from the bullock cart age. In two frigging thousand and eleven! Someone who was in his half pants in Calcutta when Rakesh Sharma went into outer space in the early 1980s.
The truth is I am not the best person to talk about what’s happening at Kolkata. My Calcutta is not today’s Kolkata. I have lost touch with it. Today I am a tourist in the city I moved in to when I was about seven and left when I was in my early 20s.
When I am at Kolkata I move around with a camera.
Well I do that in Mumbai too but you know what I mean.
So if you know what is new in Kolkata. Quirky, quaint and cool. And I am talking of food and not of Didi or Paschimbongo then please write in so that J can have a great homecoming when she returns to Kolkata.