Did you leave Kolkata as a bright eyed 20 something for a job in Bangalore or Mumbai or a dual masters at an Ivy league school? And after years of penance in rented flats and self cooked mangshor jhol, did you finally land that job in the city? Here are a few emotions and sentiments you are already going through or will be soon enough. Read on, prodigal daughter/son!
The interminable wait in the Tikiapara yard before you jump onto the Howrah platform
Obviously you took the Duronto, since you would never pay the extra luggage prices on a flight back to Kolkata. And you completed a 30 plus hour, cross country train journey with 4 half balding uncles and the 3 beautiful girls who never spoke to you all this while. You are dying to alight and run to the taxi counter and reach home. But, the anticlimax is the long wait in the yard before your train is allowed into Howrah. Sweet sweet pain of waiting!
The tight hug from Maa
You just reached home and rang the bell. What comes next is a bear hug from your mum who doesn’t care if you are smelling like a pig in your two day old t-shirt. This, even though corny in this age and time, is how the city welcomes you – a mother’s tight hug.
Eat all the biriyani, phuchka, jhalmuri, tele bhaja you can and then some
Khabar! That is the major reason for your return and now you eat like the Mountain from GoT. You salivate over phuchkas, double chicken rolls, mutton Kabiraji, hing-kachuris, cutlet or fish fries and the crowning glory of a meal – ALU-WALA special biryani at Royal or Aminia. And your first weekend’s breakfast is probably going to be at Flury’s. And of course, MAA-er hather daal to macher-jhol are the elixirs of a content Bong life! You are gong to gain back all the flab you lost away from home, faster than you can say Rosogolla! If heaven has a menu it sure comes from Kolkata.
The re-realization of how inexpensive life in Kolkata is
After your sojourns to Bangalore and elsewhere you’ve gotten used to the WONANDHALF conundrums in autos and the deep holes in your pockets post each eat-out. Miraculously, Kolkata is still way cheaper than almost any other city you’ve been to. The bus rides are still 6/- a piece, phuchka is still 10 for 5/- and the metro, even after a hike, is cheaper than a cigarette. Oh cigarettes, we are pretty sure the cheap Specials and “choto” Gold Flakes are in circulation only in Kolkata (embarrassing smoking these in Bangalore or Mumbai when even your auto driver smokes King Sizes). And for those who like a tipple, Kolkata is close to heaven for it’s prices, case in point being the age old Broadway bar or Oly Pub or anywhere in China Town – if they were any cheaper, they would be serving Baba Ramdev’s jaributi!
Acting pricey when you are out in Kolkata
Now, once the realisation of the previous point settles in, it’s time to act all pricey for the BILET ( or Bangalore) PHEROT Bong. “I don’t drink BP anymore dude” or “This is so unhygienic and cheap” are phrases that often pop up. But, this attitude barely lasts, since your Kolkata friends will laugh so hard at your lameness and start teasing you so bad that you will soon meekly settle down into the “NOT SO CLASSEEY” but endearing and sincere habits of the city.
College Street, Coffee house, Chandni…
Now that you’re back, it’s time to see if your beloved haunts of the yesteryears are still the same or have changed completely. Pilgrimages to College Street, Coffee House, Chandni, Prinsep Ghat, the Southern Avenue Lake and your old adda venue at the “chayer dokan” are going to keep your first few weekends busy.
The Bongo Lolonas & Chokras
For our men, you may have seen many a beautiful and smart and startling specimen of the fairer sex during your stints elsewhere but the first time you see a true Bong beauty with her deep eyes and the naughty tilt at the edge of her lips, slyly eyeing you, you are going to fall hard in love with the city. And for our ladies, seeing that wild eyed, bearded “jholawala” in Presidency or the “sudhorshon chokra” at work who is too shy to talk you but keeps looking at you longingly are what make a Bong man irresistible sometimes. Again. There’s something about a Bong girl or man any where in the world, but that same thing becomes way more alluring when she or he walks across with Kolkata in the background.
The language thing
For the first few months when you are back to Kolkata, you are probably going to be talking to every shopkeeper, taxi driver or bus conductor in Hindi or maybe even English. It will take you a little while to come to terms with everybody comprehending Bengali around you. But beware if you’ve gotten used to abusing unsuspecting Non-Bongs in Bangalore, in Bengali, to their face with impunity while they think you are wishing them good morning. Everyone here knows what’s coming after that BOKA!
The complaint about humidity (if you moved from the West of India or world!)
Did you forget that feeling? The forever present thin film of sweat on your skin in the summer? Yes, Kolkata is hot, sultry and extremely humid. Stop complaining and get rid of that hoodie and buy a few pair of shorts and linen shirts. And get used to 3 baths a day and a new bottle of deodorant every fortnight.
Comparing the lifestyles of other cities with Kolkata
“Life’s so happening in Bangalore…” or Bombay nightlife dude, miss it so much!” Yeah we know. Apparently the grass on the side that you just left looks greener sometimes. But trust us, if you are an interesting, curious and fun loving person, Kolkata is by no means dull. If you don’t know what to do and are in the mood for some mildly crazy things to do, let us know, we’ve got a long list of things we can do in the city.
Bad work culture of Kolkata
You are going to say it. And probably by the first weekend at the new workplace in Kolkata. Why does everyone ignore the first name thing and use dada-didi for everyone? Why does the workplace feel more like a large joint family with close knit groups and super close bonding? People here appear chilled out and relaxed and more interested in conversations over “cha-ta” than actually being stuck at their desks for 9 hours. But hey, we are a bit like Italians – eat well, sleep well (siestas they call it, and we call it NAKE TEL DIYE GHUM) , work smart. So don’t judge too soon and just observe that lazy smoker closely at work. Maybe, he does in 4 hours what others take 8 to complete.
Astonishment at the few new things Kolkata got since your last visit
The city now has Uber and Ola? A new fly over here, an AC bus there, a sudden Big Ben somewhere and new apartments everywhere? Oh wow! KOTO CHANGE HOYE GECHE! It’s always fun to pass by the same old place and see a few things changed for the better. But it’s also extremely sad sometimes, when you see that exquisite old “GARI-BARANDA wala bonedi” palatial home that got torn down to be replaced by an ugly apartment. Times, they are a changing madame/sir!
Bemoaning the lack of weekend destinations
This is probably the most common complaint once you’ve been in the city for about half a year – AR KOTOBAAR MONDARMONI JABO RE BABA ?!. It’s not that there aren’t places other than Digha & Mondarmoni, to hit for a weekend, but sadly the connectivity in this part of the country is still catching up with the likes of Bangalore or Chennai. On the upside, you are now closer to the North-East and the beautiful mountains of North Bengal. And come on, for some place as beautiful as Darjeeling or the 7 sisters, a day of extra leave is a slight price to pay.
How you hate some things you loved
Once you have gone past the initial glow of homecoming, you will become aware of some things which you loved before you left Kolkata but can’t stand a bit now. The loving neighbourhood kaku now seems extremely nosey giving you advice on when to get married and what job to get. That inseparable friend from your school who stayed back in Kolkata has nothing in common with you anymore. These are a few things you grew out of while you were away.
Nostalgia and the renewed love for the city
A tram rattling by or the taste of Fusion coffee at the Coffee House or the rare hand pulled rickshaw or the yellow taxis with rude drivers or the fairy far at the top of Victoria are sights that warm your heart like never before. These remind you again why you came back to your city, your Kolkata!
After all this, let’s finally absorb the awesomeness of being back to Kolkata. Welcome back, O prodigal daughter/son and may Maa Kali make your plate heavy with Ilish and your heart aflutter with every Rabindrasangeet you hear at the signal at Hazra crossing.
Do let us know if we missed something you felt when you came back to kolkata
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