Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Loving People of Kolkata: The City of Joy

My trip to Kolkata has a lot of learnings about the history and culture of the people known as 'Bengali.' It was the former capital of India under British rule until they transferred the Administrative center to New Delhi to make it the new money. It was just a recent past (2001) when Calcutta was changed to Kolkata.

The city is hot and humid in summer, considering it is located in a coastal state surrounded by seas and lakes. The weather might be unfavorable to some, but I have the tolerance for its extreme; my country, The Philippines, could even get hotter throughout the year. 

Since Kolkata and West Bengal are blessed with bodies of water, they are lucky to have fishing as one of their sources of livelihood. Bengalis love to eat fish, except for some who become pure vegetarians. 

The fishing industry is quite good in West Bengal and is India's leading fish-producing state. Most of the Bengal population eats fish, just like some of the coastal states of India, like Maharashtra (capital, Mumbai), Bihar, and the state of Kerala in the south. 

Kolkata may be one of the most populated cities in the world, but the population density is lower than I thought. It is relatively quiet compared to the cities of Delhi and Mumbai. And later, I have known that people in the town only travel a little for shopping, outdoor fun, and other activities. Some of the locals would need to think of how big and progressive the kind of city they have is. Some would even think of Kolkata as a typical village with slow-paced living. 

There are few forts, tombs, and monuments in Kolkata compared to Delhi, but the former British Raj has built impressive historical infrastructures

I have seen the magnificence of the Victoria Memorial, built in honor of Queen Victoria of Britain. It is somewhat similar to the architectural design of the Taj Mahal in Agra with white marble and Mughal design. The structure is beautiful from afar, and the lawns and garden are pretty and well-maintained. 

The Victoria Memorial

Near the Victoria Memorial is 'Fort William,' which was built as a military headquarters and still serves its primary purpose now. Adjacent to it is the Race Course, which hosts one of India's most significant horse race events. It used to be the pastime of the elites during the British regime, but now it is open to everyone. 

The Queen's Way Street Park offers a large playground for everyone and a favorite place for cricketers. It is a pleasant and spacious park, and some statues of built-in bronze are visible. The street was named to honor a Queen's visit to Kolkata on the way to the Victoria Memorial. 

These are just a few of the many good places to visit in Kolkata, and I am grateful that even for a short period, I have witnessed the place's grandeur. What I appreciate most is the history I've learned about the incredible architecture and sites. It is not just what you see that will move you; it also has some stories to tell back in time. 

Kolkata is making progress and faster development in terms of the local economy. Both residential and commercial buildings are on the rise, particularly in the reclaimed area of the northeastern side of Kolkata.

Due to the lack of available space to support the growing population and the increasing demand for housing, the local government has planned expansion for reclamation projects to benefit the people. 

The city is also becoming an Information Technology hub, and several Multinational companies built their headquarters in the vibrant place of 'Salt Lake,' which is the city center situated in a reclaimed salt-water lake, and that's how it got its name. 

With the rising progress of Kolkata, the locals remained to be spiritual. I have witnessed how they observed the 'Vasant Navrati' or 'Durga Puja,' which celebrates the triumph of good versus evil.  Although the spiritual significance is similar to the Holi Festival, the 'Durga Puja' celebration is mainly prayers and chanting. 

The city of Kolkata may have different impressions on everyone and the visitors, but to truly appreciate and understand a particular place, one needs to travel and be there to experience what it offers. We may think of not-so-good things about the site, but the moment we are there, our perspective has changed and created a lasting memory.

During my short stay, I felt the hospitality and warmth of the people. They treat visitors nicely and do their best to make one feel special. I had a nice feeling and enjoyed the acceptance and treatment they showed. An emotional connection was handled, and there's a substantial soul of the city and the people. 
No matter what social status they are living in society, they still find some happiness and joy in their hearts. 

In the future, I would love to come back to this place and witness its transformation. It is not just the beautiful place but the joyful people that make you feel good and loved that matters most. 

©️ 2021 Del Cusay