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Mridula and Raka share their memories of West Bengal
Lush paddy fields, pukurs teeming with the fish so beloved by Bengalis, Shantiniketan and north Bengal dak bungalows, Sundarbans, view of Kangchenjunga from Darjeeling, Bankura terracotta, Dhaniakali saris, old zamindar mansions, colonial architectural splendour, sweet shops and chemists cheek by jowl to indulge and to cure, beguni & phuchka & jhaal muri, Malda mangoes, Makaibari cha, Christmas in Kolkata with midnight mass at St Paul’s Cathedral, Nahoum’s Jewish bakery, Nizam’s kathi rolls, Tangra Chinese food, Jharcraft in Camac Street for exquisite raw silk saris, Kumortuli for Durga Puja idols, wicked Bong humour in re-naming Ho Chi Minh Sarani as the street where US Embassy is located, International Kolkata Bookfair, Dover Lane Music conference, Baul Fakiri Utsav, and dare I say it, rabibaarer kosha mangsho, ghoom aar rabindrasangeet?, adda adda adda…
Mridula Nath Chakraborty Academic and writer (Melbourne)
For me, the ‘wow’ factor of West Bengal will always be College Street in Calcutta. Lined with book stalls, the street is quintessentially everything West Bengal stands for. With a backdrop of old colonial architecture and the bells of the last of the trams, full of stories on a rainy monsoon day, College Street, I feel, is the beating heart of the city.
To be Bengali and to not mention Durga Puja would be sacrilege. Bengal is said to be the motherland of the Goddess Durga, her maika. Durga Puja in Calcutta is the crown jewel of festivals in India, the beats of the dhak and the over-the-top, fantastical Puja pandals sets my state apart from the rest.
Raka Mitra Risk Manager (Sydney)