Every city has its own idiosyncrasies. Kolkata has its too, and a great deal of them. If you visit Kolkata, one thing that’s surely going to amaze you is the fact that the city has the look and feel of a very old and vintage place. For that, you’ve got to stay here, live with the people and understand the city. There are these notions about Kolkata which every other person knows who’s researched a bit about the city. However, once you arrive here you’ll notice a wealth of things happening around you. Here is a list of some of those:
8. Street Food in front of THE Victoria Memorial
More than visiting this historical site, there are hundreds of Kolkatans who go there to have the sumptuous street food available outside the back gate. Also, you’ll get a glimpse of lovers in abundance over there. The only people going inside are either foreigners or people with their children. You must have seen pictures of the grand Victoria Memorial, but once you go there, there are other things you can see too.
7. Bargaining in the Fish Market is Mandatory
Prices of almost everything in Kolkata are very cheap compared to other cities. Yet, not a single Bengali will find relief if he hasn’t bought veggies or fish without bargaining with the shopkeeper. And this bargain is way different from what you think to be is bargaining. You’ll have to see to know. He will also take the trouble to go round the whole market to find what the prices are and that nobody gets a chance to fool him. Well, seriously!
6. Taking a Rickshaw for a 2-min-walk Distance
That pot belly hasn’t happened out of the blue. Only if you live with Bengalis you’ll know that he’ll go to the nearest shop, or the bazaar, or the main road in a rickshaw. Where walking would have been the only option for you, a Bengali hops happily onto a rickshaw. Health and the ever-widening belly at bay, the rickshaw is a hot favourite among Bengalis.
5. Breakfast or brunch? No idea
Is it breakfast, or is it brunch, or is it lunch? It’ll take you quite some time to really fathom what the Bengali is having in the morning. Be it before school, college or office, a Bengali woman can never be satisfied if the person doesn’t have rice before leaving. If it’s with fish, then that’s double bonanza, but even if it’s rice with anything else, she’s content. It’s actually difficult even for Bengalis to wonder what name it should be given.
4. A 100–day Countdown for Durga Puja
A Bengali lives for Durga Puja. It happens after the monsoons come to an end. It’s as if throughout the year a Bengali patiently waits for those four days of endless fun. So much so, that you’ll notice news and other channels on TV starting with a countdown once it’s just 100 days from its commencement. Convert it into months and you’ve got more than three months left. Patiently counting days for that huge a time period? Strictly Bengali.
3. Afternoon siesta – Need it Everyday
You’ll wonder where everyone suddenly vanished. It’s probably noon and they are off to a nice sleep. You deprive them of it and become a villain in a moment of time. You won’t be able to gather this from outside. Once you start living in Kolkata you’ll realize the abundance of the afternoon siesta. Come noon and all you’ll be able to hear huge yawns desperately wanting to go off to sleep. It’s a short nap but a nap for sure.
2. Radio in the Wee Hours of the Morning
Morning walk is something Bengalis are slowly turning into a habit. When you move out of the house, awake or not, a Bengali house will have the radio switched on. It’s mostly Akashvani that’s heard or otherwise religious music. A Bengali family not listening to the radio in the morning will never be possible. That’s a basic part of their living. No radio no Bengali.
1. Celebrating Christmas like a Christian
You thought Christmas was only for the Christians? You should come and visit Kolkata during winter. The way Christmas is celebrated here is like none other in India perhaps. Be it Bow Barracks, Cathedral or Park Street – Kolkata during Christmas looks like a city full of Christians. Only when you visit the place you’ll realize that almost every Bengali home celebrates Christmas, even if it means baking a cake and having it with family. Bengalis just need a reason to have fun and celebrate.