Oly Pub

What started in 1947 as Olympia Bar and Restaurant has evolved as a refute to innumerable Calcuttans and tourists alike. The Oly Pub we know changed its avatar from Olympia in 1981, shrinking its name into a cooler and international version. For my parents’ generation, it was still Olympia in their college years, for most of them, it was the ultimate inexpensive hangout. Besides the cheap liquor and food, Oly Pub’s USP was the Beef Steak at an affordable price and lip-smacking taste. Times have changed, Olympia has changed to Oly Pub, which has been renovated again post the fire last year. I haven’t been then pre-fire, hence I can’t vouch for what it used to be, but I can give you a sneak peek of what it is in circa 2015.

Image Courtesy: Kolkataonwheels dot com

Image Courtesy: Kolkataonwheels dot com

The Decor – From friends who were regulars at Oly Pub since college, I’ve heard it was never acclaimed for its decor. The ground floor was shabby and a smoking zone, which in my opinion is very suffocating, though it is ideal for smokers and dopers. Post-fire renovation, the ground floor has been turned into a non-smoking zone with centralised air conditioning. The decor is still shabby, but quite comfortable now with optimally spaced tables and waiters dribbling in the narrow slits between them. The lights are ordinary fluorescent ones, and if you’re looking for a fancy or romantic date, it’s certainly not the place. The floor above has poshier tables and dim lights, oh, and the coveted ‘Ladies Toilet’ that is absent downstairs.

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Peter Cat

When you mention Park Street, a cherubic smile lights up most people’s’ faces. It is synonymous to Peter Cat and an afternoon/evening of lip-smacking food extravaganza. Whether it’s lunch or dinner, Peter Cat has been flocked by Calcuttans – old and young, emigrant and resident Bengalis and innumerable tourists visiting the city. Our memories have been synced to Park Street by the mention of this restaurant. We’ve had NRIs doing a touchdown here as a part of their annual pilgrimage to Calcutta. Being such a favourite, Peter Cat rules Park Street and our hearts.

The Decor – We decided to try our pre-Christmas dinner here. Since all of Park Street is pretty much decked up like Oxford Street in London, it was a lovely ambiance. I don’t think Peter Cat did much to the decor though. Just a few stray red balloons and streamers at the entrance. But that doesn’t make a difference to the Christmas spirit. The interiors are otherwise medium well done (much like a steak, looks dry but is juicy inside). The lights are dim, tables are stacked at appropriate gaps, there’s a mezzanine and a ground for seating. I loved the lamps, as usual, here’s a snapshot.

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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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