The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The city is known for its old alleys. One such is shot by Atanu Pal.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Search for new faces

Tollygunge is in eternal and desperate search of new faces to play its leading ladies. Topline director Haranath Chakraborty said on a Bengali news channel last year that he was seriously looking for a new girl to play the lead in his next, to roll out this year. Anandalok, the leading Bengali cine magazine held its own talent hunt to find the elusive new face for a heroine's slot. But the girl who won ended up signing a film with Prabhat Roy, a successful mainstream director, for a character role in under-production Pitribhoomi.

One of the characteristics of the Bengali is looking beyond the obvious. Bengali television, at any moment, can offer at least 3-4 contenders for the leading lady's slot in any mainstream flick. Not that all of them are deprieved, but film industry hasn't been fair to them for reasons best known to it. For an instance Arunima Ghosh, the naughty-sweet looking actress (Picture left, with Prasenjit in Sangharsha. Source The Telegraph.) who can boast of a perfect figure (A rarity among Bengali actresses) and carry off any outfit a heroine wears, besides proven acting talent, got break in two films opposite Prasenjit, the superstar of Bengali cinema. So far, so good. But while the first film was a hit and the second somewhat successful, Arunima vanished from the big screen subsequently.

Arunima is among the bunch of young, aspiring actresses who can provide enough options to any Bengali film director not to look elsewhere in casting his heroine(s). They score well on glamour quotient and acting prowess. Keeping her company are Rimjhim Mitra, Ananya Chatterjee and Rituparna. And if Bollywood has a Konkona Sen Sharma (Albeit from Kolkata), we have a Sudipta Chakraborty to boot.

Looks like the Haranath Chakrabotys, Swapan Sahas and Prabhat Roys don't watch television, neither anybody in their units whose opinions matter. Pray how could they overlook that the current heartthrob Swastika is from television, so are her seniors Rituparna Sengupta and Indrani Halder?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bablooda changes guard

He has served his club for seventeen years (1974- 1991) with a loyalty that is no short of a legend and unmatched till today. All the more so because his club, Mohun Bagan, is one of Kolkata football's Big three and among the top clubs in Indian football. His car was maroon- one of the colours of Mohun Bagan jersey. The competitors of his club desperate to poach him have invariably faced the deepest of frustration whenever he had turned down the most tempting of offers. The name of this rock-solid defender will be embossed in history of Indian football and in the heart of every football-lover in Bengal no matter where his/ her loyalty lies.

His undying love for his club translated into active association even after he hung up his boots, as he moved into a coaching career. Under his guidance Mohun Bangan claimed the national league title twice besides one runner-up finish in the most glorious of his three stints as coach. His success as a Mohun Bagan coach is not matched by too many of his peers.

He is Subrata Bhattacharya, among the alltime best of Bengal's football talents.

And then came the dark phase. After a few disappointing games, he was accused of foul-mouthing his boys, alarmingly losing popularity among them and resistant to any advice and intervention of club officials in selecting players. He was sidelined in his club and unceremoniously dropped as a coach. The treatment he got in his own club post his career as a footballer will find few parallels in Indian football.

And when he finally made up his mind to join Mohun Bagan's arch rival East Bengal during the last two days, it created a stir. "How, just how, could Bablooda (As he is popularly known) do this to us?", fumed Mohun Bagan supporters. Finally yesterday he visited East Bengal tent among ecstatic East Bengal supporters to collect the confirmation letter and attend a press conference. What the East Bengal officials have done is no less than a recruiting coup, the answer to the one Mohun Bagan did long back as they poached Manoranjan Bhattacharya, who was East Bengal's answer to Mohun Bagan's Subrata till he switched loyalties.

I wonder what those who feel betrayed or let down are up to. The logic, rational or emotional, is too strong to defy. On a rational point of view he is a professional coach, and a professional coach doesn't look at personal loyalties in joining a club. East Bengal needed, going by the new AIFF guidelines for all teams taking part in the first professional league set to start this year, a coach with a coaching license. And Subrata has one, unlike Subhas Bhowmick, one of the other names discussed in the meeting to select the coach. And on an emotional point of view, how many miles does one walk holding the hands, when the insults from the loved one refuses to stop?

I am sure there are many Mohun Bagan fans who buy this logic and are not feeling 'betrayed'.

Wish you a great time Bablooda, do better than what you've achieved so far. And prove your worth to those who reposed faith in you. And I said all this being a Mohun Bagan supporter.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A cool site on Kolkata

Finally a really cool site on Kolkata by a Kolkataholic. Named, it deliberately sounds phonetically resembling the city's name.

At one level, Coolkatha intends to be a place to check out all that is cool about Kolkata and at the other level it aims to connect all Kolkatans away from the city on a common forum. The sharing of thoughts needn't be restricted to everything Kolkata, it can transcend borders and talk of issues that one feels like raising. It has a chatbox for the online members known or unknown to each other to interact, and a mailbox for private messages among members. One can speak his/ her heart out about anything, as evident from the scribbles, without being pretentious.

The Fillumz section, discussing cinema, has three interesting interviews related to the under-production Bengali film No Poblem. The first is of its director Soumik (Whose earlier interview is on this blog in the post A new-age Kolkata comedy), followed by one of its leading lady Mumtaz Sorcar, one by India's legendary magician PC Sorcar (Jr) who happens to be Mumtaz's father and the last is of Dr Kaushik Ghosh, an orthopedic surgeon by profession and an actor by passion.

Here's wishing Coolkatha a happy journey ahead. For more on this site, watch this space.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Feluda has got a new case

Today is indeed a happy day for all Feluda lovers in the know. The most popular Bengali sleuth on fiction got a new case to crack on screen.

After a painful gap of many a month since Tintorettor Jishu's last shot was canned and then its final schedule in Hong Kong never fell in place thanks to mismanagement at producer's end, Sandip Ray started his next full-length Feluda flick Kailashe Kelenkari yesterday, with the same cast of Sabyasachi, Parambrata and Bibhu Bhattacharya. The delay on Tintorettor Jishu was getting to the nerves of everyone concerned (Including the Feluda lovers), more so of Sandip. And when the possibility of the schedule to materialize dimmed down beyond hopes after a couple of postponements, he laid his hands on to the next chosen Feluda story for scripting. As it happened, another producer ( T Sarkar Productions who has produced the recent Hungama and is making Chorabali on Zee Bangla) had expressed interest to Sandip to make the next Feluda film after Tintorettor Jishu, followed by a Feluda film in a regular interval, hence he didn't have to look for a producer. Post a quick recce in Ellora caves where the climax will be shot, and ensuring all permissions are in place (Taking a hard lesson from the aborted Tintorettor Jishu) Sandip wasted no time in getting down to write the script.

It was beyond me why after a giant success like Bombaiyer Bombete, the first full-length Feluda film shot by Sandip (The third in the Feluda series), released in 2003, no one from the producer's fraternity saw enough merit (Common sense to be more apt) to produce the next Feluda film. On the other hand our film industry is always blaming lack of good stories to be made into films these days. While Hollywood leaves no stones unturned to run the legendary James Bond franchise, including remaking Casino Royale, we are so blissfully ignorant of our invaluable Feluda franchise which commands incredible loyalty across age groups still today and in Bengalis around the globe. A Feluda film can fetch an entire family to the theatre, which is an exceptional phenomenon today. Hence business-wise a Feluda film a safe bet any day. I don't exactly have a clue the way it is these days but in our teens and pre-teens no one's Bengali literary acumen was complete without a no. of Feluda short stories and novels. Feluda has been published in other languages, made on a series on national television produced by Satyajit Ray himself (The creator of Feluda) and recently a series has been made for BBC radio where Rahul Bose has played Feluda.

More on Feluda and Kailashe Kelenkari later. Meanwhile wishing all the very best to the unit of the film for a timely finish.

Orkut Kolkata Club: Meet VI

Orkut Kolkata Club (Re: Earlier post Orkut Kolkata Club Meet IV) met for the sixth time last Sunday at rooftop in Arjun's apartment house. There were more than 30 of us who came to enjoy a Sunday afternoon among friends and make new ones. The meet followed the inaugural screening of Bangla Telefilm Club (Re: Earlier post Bangla Telefilm Club kickstarts) at the same venue attended by the same set of people.

The mix of backgrounds was eclectic as usual. Among faces new to me (I myself couldn't make it to meets IV and V) were Sanglap, a SRFTI editing student, Shreyas, working in circulation of city's top media house, Shyamashreedi, a senior member running a PR agency and an NGO, who is often called a 'Rocking mother' by her daughter's friends, Nayeesha, a TV anchor who was excited about her new break, Shiladiya who works in medical transcription, Prasenjit (Who just introduced himself as 'Ami Prasenjit' and was jokingly reprimanded by Arin and me that only Bengal's present superstar deserves to introduce himself that way), Amrapali and Anna who made a late entry. There were many other new friends who could not be mentioned here. As a rule, everyone introduced himself/ herself first to the group with name, where he/ she studied/ studies, what he/ she does and likes (Incl.creative skills like poetry writing, blogging etc).

Among older faces known to me were Anindya, Shaoni, Arin, the community owner and Tanmoy who's now the permanent moderator of OKC community. Hats off to Tanmoy for having the spirit to make it there with running fever.

Amrapali sponsored the food- a yummy butterscotch pastry from Monginis. It was complimented by a large bottle of Sprite- a treat from Anna for her new job in a MNC. Live singing performances from Shaoni who impressed us with her Baul rendition and Nayeesha took care of the entertainment quotient. We missed a lovestruck Arjun, the host who had an off and on presence.

Overall, it was one great afternoon ended in the evening. Little wonder why OKC's popularity graph is rising consistently. Due credits go to Arin for managing the club with infectious enthusiasm.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Some stills of No Poblem

Here's sharing with you some stills of No Poblem (Re: Earlier post A new-age Kolkata comedy).

Pic 1: Mumtaz Sorcar (Also known as daughter of magician PC Sorcar Jr), Kanchan Mallick and another actor.

Pic 2: Mumtaz (As Tepi alias Mallika) and Kutty of Abhilasha in a song sequence.

Pic 3: Kanchan Mallick (As Cycle Bapi, one of the protagonists).

Pic 4: Aditya Vikram Roy Chowdhury (As Bhombol alias Bombi), Mumtaz, Kanchan and Kaushik Ghosh.

Pic 5: Kanchan and Sunil Mukherjee.

Those of you interested in a closer look into the film, check out the director's web album which includes stills and some shooting moments.

For more action on No Poblem, watch the space.

Bangla Telefilm Club kickstarts

Bangla Telefilm Club kickstarted on Sunday, May 13 with the inaugural show of Sharatey Aaj, a telefilm by Parambrata Chattopadhyay. It was followed by Orkut Kolkata Club Meet VI. The venue for the show was the living room of Arjun's apartment. Arjun, like the last two Orkut Kolkata Club meets, played the perfect host to Bangla Telefilm Club too.

The modest living room was bursting at seams with so many enthusiastic young folks trickling in. At a point of time some of us had to stand up to accommodate more. Arin and Arjun managed it with great spirit. Arin being the founder of Bangla Telefilm Club (BTC), must be the happiest person on earth having such an overwhelming response to the inaugural show.

As assured by Arin to have with us some cast and crew members for a post-show interactive session, two actors came in during the show- Rohit, the child artiste playing Abbas (Came with his parents) and Barun Chakrabarty playing CM's sectretary.

The interactive session (Picture above. Pardon the quality please, it was shot on a member's mobile in dark.) at the rooftop was terrific. It started soon after Parambrata turned up, apologized for the delay and said he'd wished to be present earlier and watch the end with us. As I broke the ice on cue from Arin, with a compliment on the telefilm and specially its dialogues, Parambrata opened up and we the enthusiastic members had a ball with a discussion enveloping a wide rage- queries on form and content of Sharatey Aaj to contemporary Bengali cinema and what's behind its ailing state. It was great to have with us someone like Param who is very clued in to world cinema. He shared with us an insider's view of Bengali cinema and film industry and thus came out his frustrations about the way the industry is operating and the lack of opportunities for the aspiring filmmakers like him. He passionately nurtures the dream of big screen debut as a director. When that happens we will have some good cinema to look forward to from this six telefilms-old director. One of the things we discussed at length with an eager participation from him was use of multiple story tracks in today's films like Salaam-e-Ishq and Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. I found him to be a very, very humble person too (Considering he is a very popular actor on television) as he did the one-hour plus interaction without complaint at late afternoon barring any arrangements. It was one pure Bengali adda in nature, which doesn't call for 'arrangements'. During the discussion he expressed his wish to see BTC making a bigger platform bringing together cast & crew of telefilms and audience. As I found in my last interaction with him too, at Tara's telefilm festival (Re: Earlier post
Telefilm festival), he sincerely seeks audience feedback in order to better himself as a filmmaker. As the session came to an end he made it a point to let know it was his pleasure to have such an experience. We look forward to see more of him and his work at BTC and on television.

I also made a point to talk about Rohit who was overlooked. I found him to be a talented actor with great potential. He is a shy, smiling lad, very unlike his intense and sensitive self in this telefilm and in Parambrata's Nemesis, the one he made after Sharatey Aaj, aired few weeks back on Zee Bangla.

About Sharatey Aaj (Aired on Tara Muzik before Puja 2006):
This nice romantic comedy is set in the pre-Puja milieu of Kolkata. The protaginists are the chief minister of the state (Depicted here in a light-hearted manner in a much younger avatar with a few traits of the real CM), who is a bachelor minus romance in life, his stenographer who fills the void in his life and Abbas, a schoolkid in the steno's locality. It's about how the CM falls in love with his steno and Abbas with his mate in rehearsals for a cultural programme being organised for Puja. The tele sensibly touches upon the Hindu-Muslim issues relevant to this occasion (For some time Abbas felt alienated with Puja as he realised his neighbours don't take part in Eid the way he and his father do in Puja.).

Dialogue by Aditi Majumdar who has done the script has helped bring out Parambrata's brand of comedy (Situational comedy in nature). Kaushik Sen has done whatever justice could there be to the CM's role. The sensitiveness of the relationship of Abbas and his single father has been brought out skillfully and is one of the highpoints.

Those interested to join BTC check out its
Orkut community.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A new-age Kolkata comedy

A bunch of young people have just shot what looks like a new-age Bengali film about 'characteristics that are uniquely Kolkata'. Interestingly titled No Poblem, it's a comedy that laughs at certain elements of middle class Bengaliness, made by Mumbai-based Soumik Sen who wrote Anthony Kaun Hai and is making his directorial debut with this film.

Here's a freewheeling exclusive interview of Soumik with Kolkata Curry:

Kolkata Curry (KC): What is the film all about?
Soumik: No Poblem is a film about middle class Bengalis finding confusions and conclusions to their existence in the metropolis. It's experimental in its narrative, but overall an intellegent riot of a comedy.

KC: What's behind the different spelling of the title of the film?
Soumik: It stems from the fact that lot of Bengalis in their customary nonchalance, choose to leave out the 'R' in their conversation. From pestige, pogram, pofession to Posenjit. Hence Poblem.

KC: What was the starting point of the story idea?
Soumik: I guess it's the character that Park Street has endured, over the years and the uniqueness of individuals that have inspired the quintessential Bangali wit, but something which one misses on cinema. And yes, amidst the technological upheaval, the Bangaliana survives with immense confidence.

KC: Instead of stars the film banks on actors from television and newcomers. How deliberate was it and how far has your cast taken the film forward?
Soumik: Except for Kanchan Mullik, who was in my mind when I wrote Cycle Bapi, I wanted to cast characters rather than box office draws.

The cast has performed admirably, and embody the essence of the characters written for the film.

KC: Is it a cerebral comedy aiming at primarily multiplex audience, a la Bheja Fry, or it has a wider appeal?
Soumik: I don't know if any film is written with an audience in mind. At least not this one. I have my own upbringing and I guess, my sense of humour stems from it. Although the smartness is normally associated with the comfort of a plush multiplex, I don't think humour has any segregation neither does entertainment. I hope everybody who sees it has a good laugh and an enjoyable trip.

KC: How much of Kolkata is in this 'Kolkata comedy'?
Soumik: Hugely. The film, couldn't be made in Hindi although I've had some actor friends who said they'd want to play roles if I set it in Mumbai. But that wasn't a temptation anyways. Kolkata is the star of the film. From the tram to Park Street, to middle class weddings to Writer's Building, to the Dhakuria lake to the football culture to suburban values and political leftousness, it's all Kolkata.

KC: Tell me about the music that you've scored for it. What are its highpoints?
Soumik: I guess it's esoteric approach. Have used vocals of Kutty from Abhilasha for a Bangla techno dance track, Siddharth of cactus singing a old world ballad and English band SPAN singing a bossanova pub track amongst others. I guess, you'll be surprised and pleasantly so.

KC: What was the shooting experience in Kolkata like, considering you've worked in Mumbai so far?
Soumik: Extremely warm and with a bunch of high-energy professionals who love working across conditions, very committed to their craft.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Whiteliner: An update

Launched not so long ago, Whiteliners, the flagship executive bus service of state government-owned West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation (WBSTC), run by the franchise Pirojiwal Infrastructure Ltd, is struggling to cope up with demand. The large white luxury buses were so successful, smaller buses have been added to the Whiteliner fleet. More routes have been added. Following in footsteps WBSTC has come up with a Starbus fleet of small executive buses outside the Whiteliner brand.

I prefer a Whiteliner everyday when I commute from Baguiati. The Airport-Santragachhi route is the only one that drops me at my Beckbagan office on AJC Bose Rd, in flat 42 minutes. And I have to be lucky enough to get one when I need it. The frequency is 15 minutes, but the Airport-Santragachhi route is alternated with Airport-Tollygunge route. So effectively my bus comes once in half an hour. Also AC buses, with naturally higher fares, come in between. The journey from Baguiati to Beckbagan in a non-AC bus costs Rs 16, while in an AC coach it shoots up to Rs 25.

There are two alternatives in case I don't get a Whiteliner. a) Take an Airport- Jadabpur mini bus, get down at Park Circus Tram Depot and walk for 12 minutes to the office. b) Do a break journey- Take a govt bus/ executive bus (The newer one) to Beleghata bus stop on EM Bypass and from there take a white non-executive govt. mini bus (Under WBSTC run by a private co.) to Beckbagan. In both cases one might have to stand in a crowded bus for long. In this scorching and humid Kolkata summer (Humidity generally hovers over 85% and in peak even crosses 95%.) how that feels is not a difficult guess.

The Whiteliner badly needs to increase its frequency on the Santragachhi route. I wonder what stops WBSTC/ Pirojiwal from doing the needful, since business is assured. It leaves out passengers at Baguiati regularly as its sitting capacity is full meanwhile. Also signs of complacence is visible with many buses looking in urgent need of maintenance incl. repaint. In non-AC buses many a time fans are seen missing.

The Whiteliner has brought in a new era in Kolkata's public transport which was anything but satisfactory. It made a significant difference to the people who would be all too willing to pay a little more to commute comfortably and save time too. In a Whiteliner there are many passengers who would otherwise take taxi. But it needs to do some catching up and shrug off the complacence in order to be a service Kolkatans can feel really proud of.

1st birthday

Kolkata Curry turns one today. Like the baby in the picture it has learnt to stand on its own. Hope it grows healthily in this year.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

A funny take on Spiderman

In the wake of the release of the third coming of Spiderman, I came across a funny take on our dear Spidey on Orkut. It is how it will sound if the legendary Spiderman song is dubbed in Bangal (The Bengali dialect of Bangladesh, and to all Bengalis in and from Bengal the language of the Bangals or people from pre-partition East Bengal). Here it goes:

Spiderman, Spiderman
Dori dhoira jhuilo kyan
Poira gele bhangbe thyang
Spiderman, Spiderman.
Spiderman, Spiderman
Octopus er 8 ta thyang
Tomare dhorte aase kyan
Spiderman, Spiderman.

Spiderman, Spiderman
Biya korte dorao kyan
Mary Jane je tomar jaan
Spiderman, Spiderman.

Spiderman, Spiderman
Mukhosh feilya palao kyan
Dont be coward, be a man
Spiderman, Spiderman.

Tumi na thakle Spiderman
Mon-ta kore aan-chaan
Duniyar joto polapan
Tomare je chaay Spiderman.

Abar tumi aaila fire
New York City r ghore ghore
Box-office re korle maat
Spiderman jindabaad..!!


Tucked away at a neighbourhood at 50 B Sadananda Rd at South Kolkata is this tiny eatery called Apanjan which easily earns the distinction as one of city's A-list places for fish fry, a dish which is embedded in the city's food culture. Apanjan means 'One's own people', and it really lives up to the name for its huge number of loyalists, some for decades.

I came to know about Apanjan in Orkut's one of the most active communities and the right online place to belong to for any Kolkata foodie-
Kolkata Food Guide. It was strongly recommended and vetted by a few members. And then Riju, the food journalist of Anandabazar Patrika's Saturday city zonal supplement (Uttar Kolkata/ Dakkhin Kolkata/ Purba Kolkata) wrote about the place in his intimate style in my favourite food column Hanrir Khobor. It served as the catalyst for me to go and try the place.

I tried the fish fry, which comes at a premium compared to current market prices, at Rs 25 and Rs 35 for its two sizes. The taste is difficult to describe as I've never had such a preparation made with utmost honesty and the right ingridients in an eatery. A classic fish fry can't be made without beckti, the fish. And the first bite of Calcutta Beckti in the fish fry at Apanjan spoke for itself.

Started on 15 August, 1982, by the Mukhopadhyays in an abandoned godown at their house on Sadananda Rd has a rich history thanks to its celebrity clients and prominent citizens. Rabi Ghosh and Tarun Kumar used to rush for its fish fry and polished it off standing on the sidewalk like other customers (Since it can't offer seating) post their shows at Tapan Theatre , which stands at a stone's throwaway distance at the other side of the road. Bijoya Ray, wife of late Satyajit Ray and a prominent member of his production team, once came calling to crack the recipe of its fish fry.

Prabhas Ghosh, the current manager, firmly believes in the honesty in cooking so that customers can be provided with the best- a stark contrast with today's eateries who cut corners to the point of grossly compromising on health and hygiene, let alone taste. Mr Ghosh wakes up early to shop for fish and meat everyday from trusted vendors for years and makes the stuff (Ready for frying) himself. The cooking medium is fresh refined white oil. No wonder he can afford to claim that Apanjan's kabiraji (Fried) can be had after keeping refrigerated for 4-5 days. One doesn't feel uneasy after having any of its praparations. Apart from fish fry Apanjan serves regular Bengali fries like fish orly, fish finger, hanser dimer davil (A fry with goose egg), chicken/mutton kabiraji, pakora, mangsher singara (Mutton samosa) et al, and its innovation- fish chips.

If you've already made up your mind to visit the place, make sure to turn up by 7.30 pm, as the preparations fly off the showcase in lightning fast speed.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Chamosa: End of road

Pantaoon's offering Chamosa, a new pan-Indian chain of snack counters that serves varieties of chai (tea) and samosas, clubbed with sandwiches and other savouries, is reported to be closing shop in the city. A friend messaged today that today is the last day before the chain downs shutters on the face of mounting losses, as he came to know on his visit to the Chamosa kiosk at Rabindra Sadan metro station. Surprise it was to me, but all the more to the staff manning the kiosk, who came to know the shocking news today only.

I have precisely two experiences with Chamosa. Both with its outlet at Big Bazaar VIP Rd. In the first I had ordered for a glass of a soft drink from the fountain, and what I was served had anything but what one can call taste. Something must be wrong with the fountain, I thought and threw away the glass after a couple of painful sips. The second was just day before yesterday, I was hungry but no meal matching my choice and budget was available in the Vishal Megamart food court on VIP Rd. So I went to the close by Chamosa stall again and ordered a chilli paneer roll. I am fond of the same thing from Monginis and chose a safe bet at Chamosa. Well, it was awful. There was hardly any taste of chilli and the paneer tasted plain, and not spicy as expected.

Naturally unlike a patron (?) I am not hurt at the fate of Chamosa, but wish Pantaloons were a little bit patient with the new chain. The concept was spot on, what went wrong was the execution. Pricing was also not right, with some items just not moderately priced. All this could have been corrected. Wish the chain comes back in a better avatar.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Kolkata Street Food Hunt I

Ramesh Pandit
Southern Avenue is my favourite street in the city. It is very, very green, the sidewalks are clean and wide and there is not much of a public transport causing sound and air polution. But its other attraction is its wide ranging food zone- awesome street food to restaurant fare, a characteristic yet unexplored by me. Not that I was unaware of the iconic doi phuchka at Vivekananda Park though.

So when I read in today's T2 (The Telegraph's tabloid supplement Mon-Sat) about this old and popular phuchkawala- Ramesh Pandit at Lake View Rd- Southern Avenue crossing, I decided to try his fare at once. I did so in the evening with doi phuchka and regular phuchka. I know that looks like quite a weird combo, but as it is I am essentially a savoury person and can't exactly take much of a sweet-savoury mix (That was doi phuchka), and hence I had to end it with tangy phuchkas. The doi phuchka (A plate of 6 pc comes at Rs 25) tasted really good, but it is not my thing. The phuchka, well, with due respect to his patrons, scored low with me. Reason is, the water didn't taste much sour. It needed more mashed tamarind. Apart from the staple doi phuchka, phuchka and churmur, his other offerings are alur dum, alu chaat and dahi vada. Will surely come back to him for alur dum and alu chaat.

A bit of trivia: He is in the business for 42 years. He uses home-boiled water so that it is safe for even children, and his phuchkas are homemade too, that ensures they stay crispy round the year.

Southern Avenue has phuchkawalas lined up at Vivekananda Park boundary wall, and all of them offer alur dum and doi phuchka, as I found out today. Unlike North, alur dum is quite popular in South Kolkata. And that brings me to the next location featured in this post.

One finds him at Dakshinapan entrance. A phuchkawala whose alur dum has a long list of loyal customers. It comes at Rs 5 per serving, containing 5 pc of notun alu (Small, round potatoes. A seasonal variety but available with phuchkawalas round the year.). The USP of this deliberately underdone preparation is the spicy gravy You have a choice of adding a sweet chutney to it. Rajendra claims even children can have this speciality.