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The City of Joy


Durga Puja festival celebrations in Kolkata. File
| Photo Credit: Rajeev Bhatt

It was in 2016 that I got an opportunity to work in Kolkata. Until then, I had only read about the city known for its great leaders — spiritual and political. I always remember the words of a friend who said that the people of Kolkata are one of the friendliest people one could come across.

Initially, I did not take these words seriously. But when I broke the news about moving to Kolkata, people said a lot of things about the city and one common comment was you are moving to the ‘City of Joy’.

My memories of Kolkata, right from the first day in the city until I left it in 2019, are fresh. The four-year period offered me enough moments to cherish for a lifetime.

The streets of Kolkata were always flooded with people and one normally finds no space on the footpaths filled with food joints. The heavy traffic in the city made sure no commuter violated the rules since it led to bigger jams.

The unique feature was that people enjoyed life at their own pace and in their own space. They would not panic, they made sure to enjoy every activity irrespective of how mundane they were.

Have you ever seen people waiting for a long time in a roadside tea stall to have a cup of hot tea while waiting for an autorickshaw? Kolkata street food is one of the best in the world. The food habits of the people of Kolkata resembled the British’s. Kolkata was the first capital city when the country was under their rule and that may be the reason why the people of Kolkata still relished British food.

The Metro Rail became a part of their lives long back. The heavy rush on platforms and in trains does not deter the commuter from travelling; everyone has a comfortable journey. The elders got their reserved seats automatically without any request and so did women. The Trams on the road kept the old flavour of the city culture intact.

During weekends or festivals, the city wore a wonderful look with a lot of colours and lights. Park Street in the heart of the city would be beautifully decorated with thousands of people thronging the place to be a part of the celebrations during Christmas and it would continue till the arrival of the new year. 

The world-famous Navratri celebrations during the Dussehra festival are a treat to watch and one will remember it for a lifetime. The whole city would be filled with devotion. During Mahalaya day, the city would reverberate with Chandipath recited by Birendra Krishna. It would be difficult to express such excitement; they are to be experienced.

Pandal hopping during those days was another fascinating experience.

One striking feature that is unique about the people of Kolkata is their approach towards life. They believed in living life one day at a time.

People of Kolkata addressed others, even during their first meeting, as if they have known them for a long time. It is not that they do not have day to day challenges, but they handle them in their own way and never forget to end everything on a happy note. 

Their immense respect towards arts and culture can be seen in the statues at various corners of the city. From naming a metro station in memory of Mahanayak Uttam Kumar (actor) and the statues of musicians R.D. Burman and Mannadey to just leaving the house of Girish Ghose, one of the greatest artists of yesteryears, untouched in the centre of the city showed the reverence the people of the city had for artists.

I realised that the city is indeed the City of Joy in the way it brought joy to the heart and smiles on the lips of everyone who lives there, or a visitor like me. The City of Joy – Kolkata I miss you.

mkrsekhar1973@gmail.com



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