Nasty nostalgia for Calcutta city
Suffering from a bad attack of nostalgia now that I’m back home, where I grew up- Calcutta. Note my refusal to call it by its official name, Kolkata. I knew it as Calcutta and that’s what it is in my head. Nostalgia’s the vain search for an ideal place, and I know I can never truly go back to my childhood home.
For one, we’ve moved. I’m just about getting used to my new home. It doesn’t have that depth in my memory as I only visit it for a few weeks every year, rather than living in it day in and day out, like I did in my childhood home.
Still, Calcutta has enough memories. Walking past my old house, it’s physicality brings back memories. I saw the sign for an exhibition that was over and remembered when my mom used to participate in it.
The senses trigger nostalgia
Things trigger memories in a jiffy. Whether it’s the sight of Victoria Memorial, the taste of churmur (crushed puchka chaat, a Calcutta specialty), the smell of Salt Lake, the sound of a tram, or the touch of my umbrella tree, I am immediately transported to when I was ten years old, or a teenager, etc.
I’ve changed too, become more open to experience, although it still takes me a while. I wasn’t keen to see the Pujas, as I remembered going pandal hopping as a child and disliking the crowds and the traffic.
Uniqueness feeds nostalgia
The pandals are international standard now, so I ventured to see one which a friend had praised and I also liked in photos. Artistic and unique, it was a cross between an American Indian monument and the Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram.
Timed my visit on Dashami morning, so the crowds were bearable. Motivated, I went to the Thai temple copy pandal nearby. I still liked the earlier one more. En route to see the world’s longest alpana, I chanced upon a pandal with life size figures made of bells.
Walked past that pandal to see the alpana, which was now smudged with footprints. The alpana pandal, made from recycled materials, was also worth a dekko.
Calcutta’s very walkable. Perhaps that’s why it has permeated my consciousness so much. I only know a road when I walk it. Walking yields so many discoveries, details that you whizz past in a car. The Calcutta traffic doesn’t even let you whizz past! Busy with your smartphone, you might not see the little things.
Think of happy, not sad
We remember only the good thing when it comes to nostalgia, not the bad. Calcutta traffic and pollution doesn’t stay in our memory. The culture, friendliness of strangers and addas, do.
Am a ‘strong man ready to run a race’ again. Nostalgia’s good to dip your feet in for a while, but it can draw you in like quicksand. Look back, but then move ahead. If your head is the other way, you’re bound to trip.
I am taking part in The Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge