The flavour of Kolkata

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

Friday, April 29, 2011

The first D Day

One D Day is over, another coming 13th May. Kolkata, along with North and South 24 Parganas went to polls on 27th April. It was by and large peaceful and well-organised, thanks to Election Commission.

But I was disappointed by Kolkata's polling rate: just 64%, while North 24 Parganas polled 83% and South 24 Parganas 84%. The ratio is in line with the last civic poll in 2010 and general elections in 2009. South 24 Parganas did a shade better this time. Despite the stats, I expected Kolkata, being the thought leader in Bengal, to lead from the front and turn up to ink the finger in an impressive number, as this is not just another election. It is the most watched, closely fought, adrenaline-pumping assembly election in the last three decades that has shown a possibility to end the 34-year communist rule in Bengal that has made international history.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hind : a new avatar

Hind cinema, after a painfully long wait spanning years, is opening again today in a cool new avatar - Hind Fame. Yes, it's a multiplex now, a two-screener at that (with a robust capacity of 701 seats, by multiplex standards), under the Fame umbrella, making it the third Fame plex in town.

It should be a good option for the mammoth office crowd in central business district, close to which it is located (76 Ganesh Chandra Avenue). Particularly for cinephiles like me who look for convenient (read 'not far', comfortable and moderately priced) movie-watching options post work. Am excited because it's just a less-than-10-minutes walk from my Chandni Chowk office!! The ticket prices will be kept lower than market rates, they said in an interview in a t2 preview sometime back. The theatre will cater to the burning need for good theatres in Central Kolkata, which used to be a movie buff's delight with a wide array of quality theatres like Lighthouse, New Empire, Globe and Metro long back.

Wish it all the very best!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

t2 : the big bore

The 24-page t2 can really be a big bore, like today's edition. Since its debut in January it is yet to plan well to fill up the 24 pages (save a few for advertisements). The variety of features and consistency of new columns has been lacking all this while. Even MySpace, a fresh sub-section in Tollywood (Check my earlier post MySpace debuts in t2), has't been continued.

Today's edition is all about Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 4, end to end. It covers pages on Dav Whatmore, Gautam Gambhir and Brett Lee's bites, celebrity take on KKR, fan frenzy, KKR quiz.....and two pages on how to dress like Shah Rukh (when he is with KKR) and how the suits for SRK and his KKR men were stiched!! Can you believe it? Wait, there are more. There are two more pages on....hold your breath...Shah Rukh's bowling action and a few of his other moments on-ground (including the jersy-lifting to show the packs on his stomach)!! It almost looks like an advertiser's supplement by KKR. All this is plain nonsense, from the point of view of the universe of t2 readers who are, well, not really obsessed with KKR and look for other things to spice up their day. It is a brainless proclamation of the fact that t2 is the print partner of KKR.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The new year : 1418

Shubho Nababarsho to all the readers of Kolkata Curry.

To the Bengalis and all Bengalis-at-heart : May we become better and more proud Bengalis for the right reasons and inspire our fellow people to be so in 1418.

The changing economy at Barrackpore

I went to watch a movie at Jayanti – a popular single-screen theatre that has been recently converted to a 3-screen multiplex at Barrackpore, my hometown. After buying the ticket, I had some time to kill before the show. I was feeling a little hungry and thought of treating myself to a mutton roll. There are two popular roll joints adjacent to one another at Chiria More, where Jayanti is located. As I reached the first one, called Anil Saha (after the owner’s name), the price of a mutton roll on the price board in front of the joint shocked me. It was Rs 35. I am aware of the rising prices of mutton, but it completely freaked me out. How can people pay Rs 35 for just a mutton roll! It costs far less in Kolkata. And a few rupees added to it, it can buy a plate of chicken fried rice from a decent small joint there.

In hindsight, the realization dawned on me. It is a popular roll joint. Every evening it has customers crowding in front of it. The owner knows the market. Therefore he surely knows how to price his products. I have little doubt that even at that price mutton roll is in high demand at Anil Saha. At the same time, I’m sure a mutton roll is available at a lower price in some of the other popular roll joints in this district town.

Anil Saha is part of the fast-growing snacks and eating out market in Barrackpore, once a sleepy sub-divisional town on the main line of Eastern Railways from Sealdah (on road it is the place where BT Road ends). It has always had an educated population and a good number of people coming to it everyday for education, job and entertainment. It has a number of Bengali and English medium schools and two colleges including Rashtraguru Surendranath College - one of the better colleges in Kolkata’s suburbs, Palta Waterworks is located here and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. is nearby, apart from the sub-divisional administrative building, the sub-divisional criminal court, banks, a head post office and other government offices. It has 4 single-screen theatres apart from Jayanti. All this hints at it’s being a good market for out-of-home food consumption. Some of the food joints are riding the demand curve in such a way that they comfortably started pricing their stuff higher than their city counterparts long back. And thus the price of a plate of mutton biriani at the hugely popular biriani joint ‘Dada Boudir Hotel’ near Barrackpore railway station has touched Rs 100 now, where in New Aliah Hotel, one of the best in Mughlai cuisine in Kolkata it costs Rs 83. A mutton korma (or some similar mutton dish with gravy) costs Rs 130 with just about a moderate quantity of mutton in one of the popular restaurants here, our next door neighbour shared the other day.

Supporting this phenomenon are the real estate prices. A kottah of land near Barrackpore railway station may easily cost Rs 5-6 lac. A local friend, a software engineer by profession, who I met the other day, shared that he was taken aback by the price per square feet (Rs 2000 or more) for an apartment at Genexx Towers, being constructed by a big real estate player from Kolkata at Palta, a place next to Barrackpore, as he went looking for an apartment.

Real estate is growing fast in Barrackpore, with vacant land and old houses fast making space for apartments. Many upper middle class families are eyeing the town for setting up home due to its inherent characteristics – peacefulness (there are hardly incidents of political turbulence / hooliganism, education facilities, good train and road connectivity with city (Local trains starting from Barrackpore go to Sealdah, BBD Bagh – the central business district and south Kolkata). And the corresponding rise in total disposable income of the population is showing in various aspects of living and changing the economic balance.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Run-up to elections 2 : A strange game

The state Housing Minister Goutam Deb seems to be into a strange game. He is repeatedly opening his mouth in support of Majid Master, who has a number of police cases against him (that includes murder and rioting), had been officially 'absconding' till a few days back, yet had accompanied CPI(M) MP Amitava Nandi to the Left Front headquarters for a meeting with none other than the CM, and subsequently arrested following TMC's complaint to the state election office highlighting this incident.

First Goutam said in an election rally this month in south 24 Parganas (where Majid is reportedly a terror and manipulates the elections in CPI(M)'s favour) that Majid had been framed in 'ridiculous' cases. He announced that his party (CPI(M)) was consulting lawyers to get Majid released on bail at the earliest and assured that he was going to get bail and come back to take charge of elections in Deganga and Haroa, his home territory.

The day after the Special Secretary (Home) clarified that the Left Front government would oppose the bail plea for Majid, clearly indicating state government's intentions and embarrassing the party.

However there hasn't been a reprimand to Goutam from his party not to repeat the incident. And he did just what was not called for. He mentioned yet again in an election rally at Duttapukur yesterday that the effort to get Majid released was still on.

There is no reason to believe that Goutam is another rebel like the late Subhas Chakraborty in his party. In fact he is one major face of his party in the ongoing election campaign. The mechanics behind this strange game he is playing is not clear but his statements seem to be intentional and serving the interest of the party in terms of votebank and election machinery (especially Majid's follower base) and maybe have other deeper reasons.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Arsalan delicacies

Loved the 'Special chicken reshmi kebab' and 'Mutton rogan josh' from Arsalan brought in at office. Am yet to try the biriyani of this famous mughlai restaurant at Park Circus that has shot up the popularity chart extraordinarily fast in recent years and is considered among the best by city foodies, besides media recommendations. The reshmi kebab interestingly had a cheese crust! The prices seem to be a little premium compared to its peers like Zeeshan, Shiraj, Rehmania and New Aliah Hotel.

Momo at Barrackpore

Loved the steamed chicken momo at China Cooks at Barrackpore (near rail gate adjacent to Barrackpore station) on Old Calcutta Rd. Had tasted them before too. The momos at this tiny Chinese takeaway joint were juicy, with decent quantity of chicken inside (by roadside standards), served with a generous helping of sauce, and soup. The soup is their USP: It has egg in it and tastes.........(slurp)........delicious. You may get a second serving of soup if you ask for it (Depends on how fast it is exhausted). 6 momos at just Rs 25 - can value-for-money get any better?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Life in metro : 2

A friend overheard in Kolkata metro:
"Ami Nazrul."
"Aar dada...apni?"
"Ami Netaji."
"Tahole sore asun, ami Uttam Kumar."

It can't get more hilarious than this when it comes to the Rail Minister's penchant for naming the new metro stations after great sons of the soil, deviating from the practice of naming after the location.

Monday, April 04, 2011

The architect.....and the celebration

The nail-biting finish to the World Cup final on 2nd April was in contrast with the final on 25 June 1983. That evening we saw it coming after Kapil caught Richards incredibly. Finally, thanks to Gautam Gambhir's and Mahi's resolute knocks in a high-pressure situation we rule the cricketing world......after 28 long years.

Couldn't resist posting this picture of Sourav, watching the celebration of India's World Cup triumph at Wankhede stadium on 25th April 2011 from a distance. Didn't anybody remember to call him to join in, like they called Anil Kumble for a photo op? After all he was one of the early architects of today's invincible Team India, someone who took an underperforming XI to the World Cup finals in 2003.

(Photo courtesy: Debasish Sen of 'Extra Time'.)

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Remembering 25 June, 1983 again!

Loved this advertisement by Times of India in today's edition to bring back the memory of 25 June, 1983. I was in standard III then and watched the match in a black & white television in a neighbour's place. India accomplished the unimaginable - beat the mighty West Indies in the World Cup final.

Feeling nostalgic today. The difference is that today it's not unimaginable any more. India is a top cricketing power and can beat any team on earth. Looking forward to Mahi & co. beating Sangakkara and his tough men in today's World Cup final in Mumbai.

Will be finishing work and join the boss and colleagues in the conference room in cheering for Men in Blue in front of the projection of online live streaming of the match the entire nation will be watching 2.30 pm onwards. Over lunch and drinks, for which everyone has pooled in money, to add to the mood. Let's Bleed Blue, as Pepsi urges us to.

For a better view of the advertisement, click on the picture.