CalcuttaScape : Kulpreet Yadav

Image Courtesy: Google

Image Courtesy: Google

Kulpreet Yadav is a bestselling author, motivational speaker, and Founder-Editor of Open Road Review, one of Asia’s leading literary magazines. Shortlisted in various writing contests, his short stories and essays have appeared in over 30 publications. Kulpreet is represented by Red Ink Literary Agency, and his latest novel, The Girl who loved a Pirate, is India’s first thriller based on marine piracy and hijacking. Passionate about Creative Writing, Kulpreet also mentors aspiring writers at schools and colleges and has spoken at many literary festivals in India and abroad. He lives in New Delhi.

Connect with Kulpreet at Website | Blog | Magazine | Startup

Kolkata Sets You Free

Called the ‘City of Joy’, Kolkata’s charm has had a profound impression on me. In fact, I attribute my becoming a writer on the two-year stint that I did about a decade ago in a place called Haldia, about three hours from Kolkata.

But you might ask how can one experience joy in a place that is so overcrowded and almost always on the brink of violence motivated by volatile political parties? The answer to this can only be found if you visit Kolkata.

I began to write my first novel while I waited for my train at the Howrah railway station in 2006. Until that point, I had no idea that I wanted to become a writer. I had been a regular reader, someone who enjoyed reading books for leisure. But something snapped in my head that winter morning at the Howrah railway station. I had eaten machher-jhol as a late mid-morning meal I remember and was waiting for my train which was running several hours late due to fog. As time went by, I found myself scribbling furiously in a small diary that I was carrying with me. By the time the train arrived, I had written the initial chapters of what was later published as my first novel.

hilsa

Hilsa at Gariahat Market.

I think there is good reason why Kolkata is called the City of Joy. To my mind it’s because the city motivates you to be creative which in turn makes your life joyful. I’ve a few Bengali friends and I have found them to be friendly, kind and helpful. From meeting them and eating Hilsa at their homes in Kolkata, to shopping at the New market and the Gariahat market, and eating rosogullas and phuchkas, Kolkata has the kind of energy and vibration that always fires up my creative side.

If you want to do something imaginative like paint, write, or create music, you should consider heading for Kolkata. This city will set you free. Like it did to me.

Bhalo thakben

Kulpreet

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CalcuttaScape : Kiran Manral

Image Courtesy: Google

Image Courtesy: Google

Kiran Manral is an Indian writer, blogger, media consultant and the founder of India Helps, a volunteer network which works with disaster victims. She has also worked with several publishing houses as a features writer and journalist.

A self-professed school gate mom, she lives in Mumbai with her family. She has written books like Reluctant Detective, Once Upon a Crush, All Aboard and Karmic Kids. 

Connect with Kiran on Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Instagram

Her books are available on Amazon

CalcuttaScape 

I first visited Calcutta as part of a school trip which took us on further to the beautiful Darjeeling. We stopped for a day in the city, and specifically Howrah railway station. An entire bogie of the train which comprised us students and teachers from two different schools who were part of the trip spent the night at the station. Calcutta hit me like one of those waves you don’t see coming, are incapable of defending yourself against and end up getting swept away unresistingly.

Howrah Station . Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

Howrah Station . Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

It was perhaps, the start of my infatuation with Calcutta. So far, my equation with Calcutta had remained that of the onlooker who saw the city through the gaze of the cinema that was set in it, the stories I read based in it. This though, was different. This was the city, live, pulsating, and irresistible.

I visited it next, as a guest of dear blogging friends who had become a sisterhood. I stayed at one’s lovely home, was taken around the city by them all, hosted for a lavish Bengali home cooked meal at another’s and this was when, I realised, as John Green famously said, that I had fallen in love with Calcutta, “like you fall asleep, slowly at first and then all at once.”

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CalcuttaScape : Sujata Parashar

Image Courtesy: Author

Image Courtesy: Author

Sujata Parashar, is a bestselling novelist, short story writer, poet and activist. Her debut novel, In pursuit of infidelity (2009) was a bestseller. The second in the series, In Pursuit of Ecstasy (2011), was long listed for the Economist Crossword Book Award 2012. Her latest novel the third in the “pursuit” series, In Pursuit of a Lesser Offence, was released earlier this year. Her book on poetry Poetry Out and Loud, was awarded the first prize in 2012 by Butterfly and the Bee, a literary agency. The popularity of her first poetry book encouraged and inspired her to come out with a sequel to the first one titled, POAL – II in 2013.

Presenting the sixth article in CalcuttaScape by Sujata Parashar.

Kolkata: a city of Haat – bazaars and more…

My association with Kolkata (or Calcutta as I still like to call it) goes a long way back. It goes back to my childhood days when my dad told us stories of his own growing up years. The backdrop of most of these stories was the City of Joy and its people. Dad was the fourth among six siblings – five brothers and one sister. The family lived in a village near Dhanbaad (Jharkand). His father was a Zamindaar and a homeopath doctor. When dad was about eight, he was sent to Calcutta to live with his step – brother after his dad passed away and the family came under financial strain.

Oriental Seminary School. Image Courtesy: Google

Oriental Seminary School. Image Courtesy: Google

Dad lived in Kolkata till the age of sixteen and then fled home to join the army. He married mom after he was commissioned and became an officer. Mom was the girl he loved and belonged to the royal family of Raniganj, Asansol. Both my parents had to face stiff opposition for their marriage but finally their love for each other overcame all odds and they were married in a small ceremony.

Dad loved to talk about his Calcutta days with my brother and me. And I loved listening to his stories. He would often recollect and share bits about his school life in Oriental Seminary; the pranks that he played on his teachers and how he bunked School just to watch Western Cowboy movies. But among all the little tales of his past what attracted me most was his narration of the weekly trips he made to the Haat-bazaar near his home to buy fresh vegetables and fish for the house along with his helper.  His vivid description painted a fairy tale land, to my young mind, which was always celebrating something. A city which loved its children, food and music:  kind vegetable vendors who addressed him as “Khoka” or “choto babu.”

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CalcuttaScape : Krishna Udayasankar

Presenting a new section to the readers : CalcuttaScape. It would be a guest column on One and a Half Minutes, in which published authors will write about their experiences on visits to Calcutta. I will be approaching non-resident authors who have visited for a vacation or stayed in Calcutta for a short while.

I know, dear readers, the first question cropping in your mind would be, why Calcutta? I’m not sure if I have a satisfactory answer for this one. It is my city, at times it has been my muse, it has been a companion in my early adult years, it has been a witness to a major part of my life. This is probably my way of paying a tribute to Calcutta, by bringing to you words flown from famous authors, on a city that never ceases to amaze.

The fifth article in this column is from Krishna Udayasankar, author of Govinda & Kaurava in The Aryavarta Chronicles series.

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Calcutta

Calcutta – I knew it before it became Kolkata, as temporary resident, then as frequent visitor and now as permanent admirer. ‘Cal’ does that to more than one person, I know. It’s a city that’s easy to fall in love with, a place that makes one feel at home. Perhaps that is why I remember the city as a sum of sensations and stimuli, sights and sounds that not only stir fond memories, but also come together in the present as a story that must be told, full of emotions, drama, intrigue, suspense and love.

Image Courtesy: Google

Image Courtesy: Google

Say “Calcutta” and I think of samosas emerging from the depths of a lightless, soot-stained shop in Kidderpore, to be eaten while walking over cobbled streets, sighted feet avoiding open man-holes and the washed remains of yesterday’s downpour. I also think of rasgullas (and its pronounced roshogolla, not roshogullo, as I’ve been oft reminded) from that piece of paradise on earth – KC Das on Esplanade. The informed visitor consumes the delicacy while showering many blessings on the father-son inventor duo of Nobin Chandra and Krishna Chandra Das. The less historically-inclined show as much relish, but affirm that both rasgullas and rasmalai from the decades old main store taste much better than what comes out a high-tech vacuum-sealed tin. Alternatively, one could indulge in street-fare phuchkas and jhal-muri, followed by dessert that would literally seem a world apart: melt-in-your mouth pastries at that unforgettable Calcutta institution –Kookie Jar.

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CalcuttaScape : Simi K. Rao

Presenting a new section to the readers : CalcuttaScape. It would be a guest column on One and a Half Minutes, in which published authors will write about their experiences on visits to Calcutta. I will be approaching non-resident authors who have visited for a vacation or stayed in Calcutta for a short while.

I know, dear readers, the first question cropping in your mind would be, why Calcutta? I’m not sure if I have a satisfactory answer for this one. It is my city, at times it has been my muse, it has been a companion in my early adult years, it has been a witness to a major part of my life. This is probably my way of paying a tribute to Calcutta, by bringing to you words flown from famous authors, on a city that never ceases to amaze.

The fourth article in this column is from Simi K. Rao, the author of ‘An Incurable Insanity.’

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Calcutta For The Soul

Image Courtesy: Rajdeep Mukherjee

Image Courtesy: Rajdeep Mukherjee

It’s said that memories fade with time which is probably a good thing or some of us would find it impossible to go on. But there are certain reminisces that cannot afford to be forgotten. They are like precious keepsakes that need to be extracted from the dusty realms of time. They have to be caressed and fondled with affection; reinforced and perhaps refurbished before being tucked away securely again.

One such precious memory that I’ve guarded fiercely is that of my trip to Calcutta. Over the years it has been revisited a million times; edited and imbued with subtle nuances so to add color and character.

I was perhaps ten, twelve or thereabouts (my mother stresses on the later and she is probably right because I’m pathetically poor with specifics.) The trip would never have come about hadn’t it been for my father, who after one of his numerous travels brought back an exquisite Bengali handloom cotton striped sari of olive green and cream. It became my favorite. My mother looked lovely in it. He also spoke of a land rich in culture that had produced the likes of Rabindranath Tagore, Vivekananda, Satyajit Ray and of course the indomitable Kishore Da. Therefore armed with miniscule amount of education and barely suppressed curiosity, I embarked on my sole journey to the east, with my tiny family in tow.

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CalcuttaScape : Laxmi Hariharan

Presenting a new section to the readers : CalcuttaScape. It would be a guest column on One and a Half Minutes, in which published authors will write about their experiences on visits to Calcutta. I will be approaching non-resident authors who have visited for a vacation or stayed in Calcutta for a short while.

I know, dear readers, the first question cropping in your mind would be, why Calcutta? I’m not sure if I have a satisfactory answer for this one. It is my city, at times it has been my muse, it has been a companion in my early adult years, it has been a witness to a major part of my life. This is probably my way of paying a tribute to Calcutta, by bringing to you words flown from famous authors, on a city that never ceases to amaze.

The third article in this column is from Laxmi Haraharan, a Kindle bestselling author and blogger for Huffington Post.

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The Calcutta Comeuppance 

Image Courtesy: Author

Image Source: ehttp://wordhavering.wordpress.com

Over the years my father has let small clues spill about his past. He lived in Calcutta when he was starting out on his career as a trainee bank officer. I pieced together a picture of the girl he had met here. One who loved to dance the twist and drink lots of cha. She was a widow, someone who flaunted societal rules to enjoy life. He had been enamoured with her but chose

to move on, knowing he wasn’t strong enough to face up to his family and society to marry her. At least that’s what he told me. When he speaks of her, I see the look of a man frozen at the crossroads of life from which he has never really moved and yet lived a lie. But leave he did. Then it was my turn to meet the city.

Calcutta had always seemed to be in a dimension apart. As if it were this planet existed on one plane and that exalted epitome of imagination on the other. Did I have enough soul to be accepted into its fold, I wondered as I walked through Park Street hand in hand with a man who was born in a street not too far away. He, whose parents met in this city fifty years earlier; they had been together since.

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CalcuttaScape : Nalini Rajan

Presenting a new section to the readers : CalcuttaScape. It would be a guest column on One and a Half Minutes, in which published authors will write about their experiences on visits to Calcutta. I will be approaching non-resident authors who have visited for a vacation or stayed in Calcutta for a short while.

I know, dear readers, the first question cropping on your mind would be, why Calcutta? I’m not sure if I have a satisfactory answer for this one. It is my city, at times it has been my muse, it has been a companion in my early adult years, it has been a witness to a major part of my life. This is probably my way of paying a tribute to Calcutta, by bringing to you words flown from famous authors, on a city that never ceases to amaze.

The second article in this column is from author Nalini Rajan, her first novel ‘The Pangolin’s Tale’ was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize, 2007.

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Calcutta

Howrah Bridge, 1945 (Image Courtesy: Wikipedia)

Howrah Bridge, 1945 (Image Courtesy: Wikipedia)

I have visited Calcutta three times, and I have mere fragments of memories of this city.

The first time I went to Calcutta, I was nine years of age. I was travelling by train from Delhi with my 12-year-old sister and a 20-year-old male cousin, Shekhar. “Girls, there are lots of things you should see in Calcutta”, our father advised us. “This is a city, brimming with history!” He looked somewhat dreamy. “And Howrah Bridge is something you see, anyway, from the train”, he added, as he waved us goodbye at Delhi station.

Right at the beginning of the 20-hour journey my sister and I knew one thing: we loathed our cousin, and he, for his part, simply forgot that we existed. It was lucky that our mother had packed loads of food for the train journey – else her daughters would surely have perished of hunger. For the most part of the trip, Shekhar would hang out with people his age, and usually of the opposite sex. Not once did he ask us, out of cousinly concern, if we needed anything! We were so puffed up with righteous indignation at this benign neglect, that we missed seeing Howrah Bridge altogether, as we approached Calcutta.

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