'Welcome to the Calcutta season. Everyone's invited.'

Shivaji Dasgupta
27 Nov 2022
'Welcome to the Calcutta season. Everyone's invited.'

Representative image

Kolkata: As the temperatures descend in pleasing fluidity, the Calcutta season must be declared open. Where invitation is sincerely connected to the affection for life and an obsession for experiences.

You may well wonder what exactly am I talking about, whether it is some intrusive bunkum. But there are many who are privy to this emotion - as entitled residents, wide-eyed alumni or even fleeting visitors. This is a celebration of humanness unique to India, and I dare say outposts of the developed universe, as we recognize them.

Occupying the hub of the euphoria is the Christmas and New Year period, when a common agenda for delight is the reigning monarch. Lengthy afternoons at the abundant maidan with crunchy peanuts as heady percussion lead the parade, in tacit tandem with museum pilgrimages. Nowadays, there are many such seasonal engagements, with the New Town attractions strangely reinforcing the lovable old. 

I must digress now, in no particular order, to the classical music season that is an exultant Vesuvius, with Pliny the Elder possibly still in attendance. While the Dover Lane and the ITC conferences are the branded stars, what's truly special are the suburban events like Uttarpara, Barasat and sundry worthies. Every reigning and departed legend would gingerly confess that global glories and monies be damned, the considered acknowledgement of such erudite listeners makes their 'taleem' truly worthwhile. 

The fabled clubs and Park Street must be squirming by now, so let them gatecrash the party. Roasted Turkey, not from Istanbul, and Shepherd's Pie, from the finest minced meat, often lead the noble entourage of celebratory feasts, best consumed over finely tailored suits and well-manicured conversations. This may sound a little niche but then modern marketers would term it as a benchmark, so let the jury decipher while many simply enjoy. 

Lest I forget, this season does have its share of serious rituals, not least of which is the midnight mass at St. Paul's Cathedral. Where those of the faith assemble to pay due reverence while the rest of us attend as an immersive screenplay of gratitude, civilization above all else. Treat this not as a shallow tourist attraction but instead a calling card of the human race, insistent on sincere cohabitation.

In case you are wondering if Bengali nuances are being deliberately ignored, the time to bust is now. Some species of fish behave like Virat Kohli in the T20 World Cup, including the temperamental Parshe and the sprightly Koi, while the iconic 'nolengur' does lend effortlessly to melodious mishti. Those in love with cauliflower may be entitled to exult, as pure play vegetarians are deservedly due for truthful appreciation.

The vintage car rallies cannot be excluded from an observation as such, initiated by The Statesman and emulated by many modern corporate statesmen. On Park Street, touched briefly earlier, Trinca's has decided to be a torchbearer, insisting on continuing the Biddu and Usha Iyer ( Uthup) legacy, godspeed to them. While Nahoums and the Saldanha Bakery are still churning out retro delicacies at astonishingly archaic prices, helping build a level dining table. 

Now that I have rambled beyond the brief, let me attempt to articulate the essence of this Calcutta season. It's invariably about inclusion, so clearly nobody is left out, whatever be the core affiliation. It's also about mutual respect, a tolerance for the other defining the sanctity of the self. It's equally about magnificent real-life experiences, which add so much to our genuine timeline. 

Everybody is honestly invited to the Calcutta season. You may belong or be an outsider but you will soon discover that you are an organic insider. Drop by this year or next, and you will know what I mean.

Read The Next Article