Locomotoring

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Posts Tagged ‘Kolkata

How to take on the summer heat in Kolkata

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The smaller "bubblegum" variety

Immature seeds of palm fruit

Summer in Kolkata is typically not hotter than 100F but your skin feels like a dripping faucet, each pore that is. After a while, you don’t even want to wipe off the sweat. It is cooler to not have to make that effort. At times like this, the only remedy is to take a cool shower. As the cooling begins, feel free to sing aloud in bliss. After the shower, move as quickly as possible to the nearest air-conditioned room. Switch on the ceiling fan at full speed and sprawl on a bed – maximum surface area for the skin-air contact. When you need to be out in the heat again, do so and repeat the cooling regime.

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Written by Som

June 15, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Eating fish in Calcutta

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Fresh caught fish

Bengalis are enthusiastic fish eaters. We eat fried fish in rich curries. We steam fillets papillote style. We fry fish heads with rice or slow cook them with lentils. The fatty fish entrails are fried and eaten with rice. In dhabas, bones from large fish are added as flavoring to vegetables. Small bait are fried whole and eaten as snacks with tea. Fish eggs are made into fritters.

I am sure I eat a pound of fish a day when I am visiting Calcutta. So when my father offered to take me fishing, I decided to follow the fish trail from source to plate. Unlike the last fishing trip, this was a visit to the a nearby village where he has friendly access to a pond. From the comfort of my city lifestyle, I sport a very romantic view of villages in Bengal with their dirt roads and banana trees, and little kids playfully swimming in ponds lined with lotus and lilies, a vision born out of watching Satyajit Ray movies. Our air conditioned car landed us within a couple of blocks of the village pond in question. A recent windstorm had shredded the leaves of the banana plants lining the dirt path. Otherwise it was a picture perfect village.

Picture perfect village

Dragging the pond

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Written by Som

June 15, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Posted in Calcutta (Kolkata), India

Tagged with , ,

One river to bind them all

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In cities like Calcutta or Paris, the river is the precious that brings together the livelihoods and lifestyles of the people of the city. There is no denying the differences of course. In Calcutta, Ganges river is wide. Wide enough that on a regular traffic clogging business day, crossing one of the two bridges can take an hour or more. For many in Calcutta, the river is everything. They live in small precariously placed shacks along the riverside, cooking on crude stoves, bathing, urinating, defecating in the river, making a living off odd jobs by the riverside. Every once in a while the city police comes by and tears down the shacks and the cycle starts up all over again. For other Calcuttans, the riverside is a sanctuary from the hot and muggy interiors of the city. Often in the evening, when the rays of setting sun make the silt laden water look like gold, the Bengali babus can seen heatedly debating politics and cricket accompanied with roasted peanuts and hot chai. The local train line is just by the banks so every once in a while the toot of the train pierces the surrounding noise and the din. Is it just the mugginess that makes everything feel slow even in that throng of moving bodies? Large ferry and cargo boats crawl past without attracting attention. Tiny little picturesque boats offer rides to young lovers who can perhaps steal a kiss away from the throng of hawkers and gawkers. Nothing spectacular but nevertheless stunning.

Goddess idol being prepared for immersion

Goddess idol being prepared for immersion

Traveling priest or a homeless person

Traveling priest or a homeless person

Live music between Ile de la Cite and Ile Saint-Louis

Live music between Ile de la Cite and Ile Saint-Louis

Notre Dame and cruise boat

Notre Dame and cruise boat

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Written by Som

October 27, 2010 at 8:06 am