This Friday, our field-trip to Dakshineshwar got cancelled due to a delayed metro situation. * We were all really looking to the excursion and were upset at the turn of events. After drinking a round of cha at a street stall, a group of us decided to go check out some contemporary art galleries instead and go to a little café instead. It ended up being one of my favorite days in India thus far! Kolkata has a very strong art scene–there are many galleries and just an overall emphasis on artistic pursuit, both for personal practice and for wider public consumption. Bengalis are known for being creative and I love this part of their culture—so many of the best writers, painters, and musicians come from Bengal. (Also many of the most influential revolutionaries…)
I’ve been in Kolkata almost three weeks now and I have grown to really appreciate the city. If anything, it is severely underrated. While Bengalis sing Kolkata’s praises, many expats and especially Indians from other parts of the country consider it a “dead city” that peaked under the reign of the British. I’m sure Mother Teresa’s description of Kolkata as a desolate place didn’t really help its image either. It might have once been a glamorous cosmopolitan city–and really, once you explore a bit, it still has a palpable charm. I spent last Sunday walking all over Kolkata—my FitBit clocked over 7 miles. There are parks on every street, monuments peeking around corners, and considering the time of year, Durga Pujo pandals everywhere. The eateries are great, there is a live music scene, and the art as I’ve mentioned, is really something else. The people also are very kind. The other day, I went down to the cornershop to buy an ice cream and the shop-owner didn’t have change for my 500 rupee note–he told me to go ahead and take it and pay him back the next day! And yesterday, I was at another art gallery and two bold little girls came up and started talking to me (unfortunately, they kept calling me aunty…)
All in all, I’m adjusting well to my life here. And maybe, next time you plan a visit to India, you should drop by the East as well. It might surprise you!
*I am a big fan of the metro in Kolkata but find myself confused as to why there’s only one line? More lines would help clear up the congested streets. My other concern is that no one really walks even though walking is almost as fast as taking the bus in many cases! I’m always given strange looks when I admit that I’ve walked somewhere. In any case, the one thing I can’t wait for in Santiniketan is to be able to walk and bike everywhere.