Sunday, 6 December 2015

Drive Design and Connect with Kolkata

I was really intrigued by this city where I lived in the seventies. Dominique Lapierre called it the “City Of Joy”. The book centers around the slums called Anand Nagar where people facing the most wretched of circumstances look at the brighter side of life. Thus the drive of the people is tremendous; A city with tremendous Joie De Vivre. It is a city that we connect with personalities like Mother Teresa and Stephen Kovalski who lived and helped the poorest of the poor. The people of Kolkata are very well read. There is a lot of cultural diversity in the city where the people live in tolerant coexistence. When Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was shot by her Sikh body guards 30 years back Sikhs all over India died in community violence. There were no deaths in Kolkata which was attributed mainly to a curfew but also to the ethnic mixture culture of the city. Kolkata has been called as the “City of Furious, Creative Energy” as well as the cultural capital of India. Kolkata is also known for its literary, artistic and revolutionary heritage. One can also connect with the city through a political graffiti depicting everything from outrageous witty banter and limericks, to caricatures and propaganda. Kolkata is the main commercial and financial hub of East and North East India and home to Calcutta Stock Exchange. Kolkata has many buildings adorned with Indo-Islamic and Indo-saracenic architectural motifs. Many buildings in Calcutta are heritage structures. In Indian Museum there are large collections that showcase Indian Natural History and Indian Art. Marble Palace is a classic example of a European Mansion. The Victoria Memorial is also well known. The National library of India is the leading Public Library in the Country while Science City is the largest Science Center in the Indian Subcontinent. In Bow Bazaar of Kolkata we find a cultural mix of Chinese, Jews, Buddhists, Portuguese and more. The main artery of Bowbazaar is B.B Ganguly Street. It has a vegetable market and, a carpentry quarter. We also see Chinese shops with prawn crackers, water chestnuts and Chinese breakfasts of fish ball soup.  The noodles, Incense sticks, dried mushrooms, and strings of Chinese sausage remind us of Shanghai or Soho. Chatwala Gali is well known for sweet treats. The Bengalis are known for their sweet tooth. Rasogollas and milk sweets are famous. Changes in Calcutta have been slow. It has not changed much over the years despite the fact that the Bengalis are well read. What is still so charming is the cultural heritage and the people of the place. It is best to visit the city during the Durga Pooja. The ethnic fervor with which the festival is celebrated helps us to connect to the city and its culture.

Note: This entry is written for Tata Motors for their #madeofgreat zonal war.

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