Kolkata


In & around Kolkata, previously known as Calcutta.

Family, Food & Drink, Leisure

Dim sum, Hummus & Falafel


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It was 30 March, Jaya’s stitches on her right wrist were removed. Things were looking okay. Her abdomen stitches would be removed next day. It was getting into evening, Jaya was in no mood to return to the hotel so early. I was a bit hesitant whether she would be able to roam around as she was recovering from her major operation two weeks ago.

A woman is always a woman. She wanted to go to a mall! We decided to go to the Quest Mall near Park Circus, Kolkata. It’s a bright, new mall. I also like walking around here. We were feeling a bit hungry as we left after having breakfast in the morning.

But Jaya wanted to have tea first. So, we went into a Chinese restaurant — Yuatcha and had nice hot tea with dim sums.

Dim sum is a style of Cantonese food. It is inextricably linked with yum cha, or the act of drinking tea – so much so that even now the two phrases are used interchangeably. The unique culinary tradition began thousands of years ago. Those who travelled along the ancient Silk Road through China would often need a place to rest before continuing on their journey. In response to the increasing amount of people passing through, tea houses opened up along the roadside of southern China. It was later discovered that tea aids digestion, so tea-house owners began offering bite-sized snacks as an accompaniment, and thus yum cha was born.

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It started raining outside. It was, in fact, raining heavily. We couldn’t go out. We then walked into the food court for some snacks as we were waiting for the rainfall to stop. We found a Lebanese food stall. We ordered for hummus and falafel.

Hummus is a Levantine food dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with tahini (a paste from grounded, hulled sesame seeds), olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic.

Having #falafel and #hummus with @jagrataroychoudhury

A photo posted by iroychoudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. Falafel is a common dish eaten throughout the Arab world. The fritters are now found around the world and as a form of street food, too.

We walked out of the gate and found the rain is over. We took the cab and returned to our hotel.

Family, Healthcare

Jaya Is Going For Total Hysterectomy


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Jaya was suffering from pelvic endometriosis since last few years. Endometriosis happens when the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside of the uterus on the ovaries where it doesn’t belong. Currently causes for endometriosis are unknown.

There is no cure for endometriosis, but it can be treated in a variety of ways, including pain medication, hormonal treatments, and surgery. If endometriosis is left untreated, it becomes worse in about 4 in 10 cases. It gets better without treatment in about 3 in 10 cases. For the rest it stays about the same. Complications sometimes occur in women with severe untreated endometriosis.

During last consultation with her gynecologist on June 20, 2014 Dr. Indrani Lodh advised Jaya that she needs surgery — total hysterectomy otherwise her condition may become worse. Total Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus including removal of cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes. The doctor suggested for laparoscopic hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. A hysterectomy is a major operation.

As explained by the doctor, laparoscopic hysterectomy is done using a laparoscope, which is a tube with a lighted camera, and surgical tools inserted through several small cuts made in the belly. The surgeon performs the hysterectomy from outside the body, viewing the operation on a video screen.

She further explained that using a minimally invasive procedure (MIP) approach to remove the uterus offers a number of benefits when compared to the more traditional open surgery used for an abdominal hysterectomy. In general, an MIP allows for faster recovery, shorter hospital stays, less pain and scarring, and a lower chance of infection than does an abdominal hysterectomy. We decided for laparoscopic hysterectomy.

We earlier planned the surgery to be got done in winter but we had to postpone it because of marriage of Jaya’s cousin. The surgery is scheduled tomorrow at Apollo Gleneagles Hospital in Kolkata. There will be another minor operation on her right wrist for carpal tunnel syndrome — right-sided carpal tunnel release after a couple of days. The carpal tunnel release will be done by neurosurgeon Dr. BK Singhania.

Babai is with her. For more than 2 months, I have been consistently pursuing and following up for renewal of my “Iqama” (Residency Permit), without which I cannot travel out and return. But the delay is caused, unfortunately. I am forced to defer my travel. The process for extension of Iqama is just completed today. I will be reaching there after her main surgery. :-(

Babai and I love Jaya very much and we are praying that the operation is a success and that she has a full and healthy recovery.

Art, Family, Food & Drink, Leisure

Kolkata Book Fair


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indexI was returning from Gangtok on a two-week holiday from my institute after our third-year examination on February 1. My mom was in Kolkata to attend her friend’s daughter’s marriage followed by her routine medical checkups and consultations. So, I joined her in Kolkata. After her checkups and consultations at Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, on February 2, we decided to go for the Kolkata Book Fair (কলকাতা বই মেলা) in the afternoon. One of my friends Manali also joined us there. The fair is being held at “Milan Mela” near Science City on E.M. Bypass. Two years ago, while returning from Kumbh Mela we couldn’t visit the book fair as that was the last day and I didn’t want to miss the chance this time.

International Kolkata Book Fair is a late winter fair in Kolkata. It is a unique book fair in the sense of not being a trade fair – the book fair is primarily for the general public rather than whole-sale distributors. It celebrates international literature and reflects India’s much-loved reading tradition. The Kolkata Book Fair, recognised by International Publishers Association, Geneva, is also the largest Book Fair of the world in terms of visitors.

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It’s reported that the last year’s edition of International Kolkata Book Fair was visited by around 2 million book-lovers over 12 days and books worth Rs 200 million ($3.25 million) were sold. It is the world’s third largest annual conglomeration of books after the Frankfurt Book Fair and the London Book Fair.

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The focal theme this year was Great Britain. The fair was divided into five big pavilions. Each of the pavilions contained different publication houses from India and abroad. The pavilions were very large and had mammoth collection of books from almost all subjects and interests one can imagine. I could not visit all of them but I visited two of the pavilions. One of them was containing British publishers like Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, etc. The Oxford stall was no less than a usual Oxford bookstore having books ranging from kids fiction categories to business books. They even had comics of great Japanese series like bleach and one piece (my favorite).  There were stalls especially for research books  covering every field from biomechanics to elementary physics and astrophysics.

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In the other one, there were stalls for local publishers like Ananda Publishers, Dey’s Publishing, etc. These stalls had basically all the Bengali books and novels ranging from Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray to current writers. There were separate stalls outside the pavilions. Other than that there were small stalls of different bookstores outside of the pavilions. This book fair could feed needs of every reader. it’s truly a paradise of book-lovers.

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The delicious attraction of this book fair was the food court — the gastronomic section where variety of snacks, sweets & confectionaries and other food items were available. There were outlets of Dominos, Kathleen, Laziz, Roll’nRoll, Alibaba etc. Some famous restaurants of Kolkata had also opened their stalls there.

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Mind-boggling varieties of dishes — very difficult to choose

They were serving delicious, mouth-watering dishes like fish fry, chicken rolls, prawn chilli to biryani and even different flavored patishapta (Indian style crepes stuffed with sweet fillings).

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Mom and Manali looking liliputs :-)

There was even a tall guy standing on sticks, wearing a menu card of one of the food stalls in the food court, inviting people to the stall.

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WP_20150202_018The other attraction of this fair that I found out interesting was different forms of artwork which I saw there. It was amazing to find artists actually working there on the spot and painting bottles, clothes and many different things that we generally dispose off after use.

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This actually proved a good point in reusing the refuse. The idea is very inspiring and I was excited to see them doing that on the spot. This is good for our nature and sustainability.

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An artist busy in creating a masterpiece

I love reading books and was very thrilled to be there. We visited many pavilions but couldn’t visit all of them due to paucity of time. We bought a Kindle for my dad — it is for his birthday gift. I bought several books. I wanted to buy more books but couldn’t buy more as we had to go to our home in Ranchi next day. I missed my dad very much as he is fond of books and he loves reading books. The time was too short although we were there for more than 4 hours. Any number of hours — even a full day is too short for this book fair. I felt bad that I could only visit two halls.

A good book has often been called a man’s best friend, or as Groucho Marx puts it, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

Atri Bhattacharya has rightly said: “The Kolkata Book Fair (KBF) is a phenomenon. Large. Crowded. Noisy. Intellectual. (Oh, very intellectual!) Musical. Gastronomic. Artistic. Controversial. Chaotic. Resilient. In its own way, it encapsulates the character of its city and its most visible tribe: The literary Bengali.”

Family, Food & Drink, Leisure

Dining at Alfresco, Kolkata


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On 16 October 2014, I came to Kolkata with my parents for my mom’s health check up at Quadra Medical Services, Hazra Road.

My dad booked at Great Eastern Hotel in Dalhousie for our stay tonight. It’s the oldest five-star hotels in all over Asia and its establishment dates back to 1840s during the East India Company rule in Kolkata. The hotel has been in top charts since then. The location of the hotel is very good as it’s in the heart of the main business district of Kolkata. All the big and reputed companies have their establishment around.

The hotel is quite huge with three separate restaurants. One of them is on the lobby named Alfresco, which is a multi-cuisine restaurant accompanied with a café. The hotel is now managed by Lalit group.

We walked in there for our dinner. Well it is a very beautiful restaurant. As the name literally suggests ‘outdoor’, all the arrangements are like sitting in the outdoor porch or a tent with circular glass cane table and cane chairs complemented with sweet chirping of birds making you feel sitting at a garden in the open. The ambiance made us feel good. My mom was tired of the journey started feeling refreshed there.

We had a hard time discussing the menu since there were a lot new dishes on the menu card. Finally we settled for ‘mushroom cappuccino’ soup for my dad and me and my mom had ordered for hot and sour soup as she doesn’t like mushrooms. As the name mushroom cappuccino soup it was served in a cappuccino cup, yah truly in a cappuccino cup with cookie shaped baked breads! The innovative cappuccino was a rich, earthy soup made with mushrooms and served exactly like cappuccino. The froth and color was very much similar to the cappuccino that we generally have at the café. The presentation was awesome. The innovation was really appreciable.

Having dinner at Alfresco

A photo posted by iroychoudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

Along with that they served some breads and green salad. Also we ordered for chicken Caesar salad which was equally delicious.

But for us, the star dish for the dinner was the traditional Bengali dish: ‘posto murgi’, which we ordered in the main course. The concept of posto (poppy seeds) murgi (chicken) is truly awesome. The idea of posto with some non-vegetarian item is really novel and a peculiarity of Bengali cuisine.

Posto murgi — chicken cooked in poppy seed curry

A photo posted by iroychoudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

The taste of the “posto murgi” — chicken in poppy-seed paste — was even more delicious than I had expected. Along with that we had preserved breast chicken which was chef’s special. It was a chicken steak along with steamed omelets. We had fresh lime soda (sweetened) before leaving the restaurant. The food was so great that I would say that this place should be visited once again for enjoying the foods here.

I’m loving it!!!

Family, Food & Drink, Leisure

Nalen Gurer Ice Cream


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Well, I find it quite justified to dedicate this post on an innovative delicacy – ‘Nalen Gurer Ice Cream’, which we enjoyed today at Oh! Calcutta, Silver Arcade, EM Bypass, Kolkata — a Bengali cuisine restaurant. Jaya and I went to this restaurant for Bengali cuisine before catching our flight to Ranchi. We started with ‘Aam-pora sharbat’ followed by ‘Mochar Chop’, and ‘Bhaape Ilish’ etc.

Towards the end of our lunch when the waiter asked for our choice of dessert, we found that they have ice cream made with ‘Nalen Gur’ (or date palm jaggery) on the menu. We could not but say ‘YES’ to it. I devoured the first spoon, mmm.. it was awesome! It’s not like the usual ice cream. It was light brownish in colour. Today’s lunch is one of the greatest meals that I ever had.

Delicious Nalengurer ice cream after a great lunch@ á

A photo posted by iroychoudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

Nalen gur is a specialty of Bengal — both Indian state of West Bengal and Bangladesh — and is used extensively to prepare delicacies of winter. Nalen gur is a preparation from the sap of date trees that are collected and heated to obtain the final product that leaves one wonderstruck — the taste is heavenly. It is said that the heating is an art. The date palm sap is made into three types of jaggery: liquid, grainy and the solid chunks of patali gur. The sap is heated in huge woks over wood or coal stoves and it is only an expert who can gauge the different degrees of cooking to achieve the right textures.

It’s really delicious and I am sure all sweet lovers would love it.

Celebration, Family, Friends

My Birthday 2014


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I am on vacation during my birthday after a long time. I am with my family but  we three of us can’t be together on my birthday March 21, 2014 as Babai is in his institute in Gangtok. Jaya & I are undergoing medical checkups and consultations at Apollo Gleneagles Hospital in Kolkata.

GANGTOK

We visited our son Babai in Gangtok for couple of days and to be together during the auspicious occasion of Holi. We reached Gangtok from Ranchi on March 15, 2014.

Judhajit arranged a birthday cake for me to celebrate it in advance. Thanks @judhajitr.

A photo posted by iroychoudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

To our surprise, Babai arranged a small, nice cake as we reached our hotel to celebrate my birthday. He arranged this as he would not be with me to celebrate my birthday. It was so nice of him.

Thanks Babai. God bless you!

KOLKATA

On March 21, Jaya’s friend Rina invited us at their house. After our consultations with the doctor at Apollo Gleaneagles Hospital, we went to their house. On the way, Jaya bought a nice cake from Flury’s at Park Street, Kolkata. Also, Rina’s husband Subhro brought another cake! I cut both the cakes.

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This time, it’s a lot of celebration of my birthday! The cutting of cake was followed by lovely dinner prepared by Rina. Thanks Rina and Subhro for celebrating my birthday.

Family, Friends, Travel

Going to See My Dad


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I am going to Allahabad to see my father and will return after a week with him. I am feeling very sad this time as the thought of my mother not waiting at the gate to welcome me is haunting me. It’s really a very bad feeling and I am somehow trying to stop my tears.

I am bringing my father with me to Ranchi so that he would feel better as he misses my mother very much there. Everything there reminds him of her.

Now I am in Kolkata at the house of my friend Rina. I will stay with them tonight. I wanted to be with my close friend to share my thoughts and feelings, to get some comfort talking to her. My train for Allahabad is at 3.15pm tomorrow. It’s Rajdhani Express. It’s scheduled to reach Allahabad at 2.43am.

I am trying to avoid thinking the sight of the door of the house. May the God give me strength to avoid my tears in presence of my father! I know that he will feel very bad seeing me in tears.

Festival, Religion

First FDI in Durga Puja!


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France will sponsor a Durga Puja in Kolkata this year – the first foreign country to do so – creating a milestone of sorts. I just read this in Hindustan Times.

The puja that has been selected for the honour is Pallimangal community puja that is in its 54th year. It is located on Anwar Shah Road, a mere two blocks away from South City shopping mall.

Besides giving funds, France will also send two artists to work with local ones to create a theme around 100 years of Indian cinema, one of the most prominent vehicles of cultural exchange between the two countries. There are also plans to bring a member of the French World Cup soccer team to inaugurate the puja.

Alliance Francaise, which is funded by the French government, is bearing the expenditure of this puja. Though the budget is relatively small at Rs. 4 million (USD 68,000), the organisers are expecting it to open up the pujas to a growing western audience, which in turn, throws up a vast tourism potential.

The French sponsorship of Pallimangal community puja is the culmination of a 20-minute documentary shot about the puja by a French journalist for France TV II, a national channel in France. The programme evinced interest in France and a team of visitors came to Kolkata in October 2012 to see the pujas.

Family, Leisure

Babai Left for Gangtok


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We had our initial plans for visiting Barrackpur, Basirhat & Kolkata together with Babai and we would go to our destinations from Kolkata airport. But later, Babai told us that he had to attend his classes from 29th and so he could not stay with us in Barrackpur, Basirhat and Kolkata.

As scheduled before, we reached Kolkata/Barrackpur yesterday. My dada — cousin at Basirhat, his wife (Boudi) and his daughter (Tota) came to Barrackpur to pay Shubho Bijoya pronaam to our Kakima along with his sister-in-law and her daughter. They were waiting for us to reach Barrackpur from airport so as to meet us before they leave.

We reached Kolkata airport and then had some coffee with Soumya, who had come to see us at the airport at the Café Coffee Day at the airport. He arranged for a car for us for 4 days of our travel in and around Kolkata.

Then, we went to Baguiati for buying some sweets for Babai to carry with him to Gangtok and also for Kakima’s house at Barrackpur.

After that we straightaway headed towards Barrackpur. It was nice to see everybody there waiting for us. We had some photographs in groups and then Dada and his family left for their house at Basirhat. Jaya and I will be going to Basirhat day after tomorrow after the Lakshmi Puja tomorrow.

We had some chats. Jaya gave the gifts that we brought for kakima, maasi, Laltu and Joyita. She also took gifts for Charu and Sandhya.

In the morning after breakfast, Jaya, Babai & I left for airport to see Babai off. We asked Laltu several times to come with us with his family. But he did not come as he said that he was not feeling well and wanted to sleep.

We reached airport around an hour before the flight. Baikunth Nath, a friend of Soumya is now working with Spicejet with which Babai is going to Bagdogra. He was there at the airport and arranged his check-in. Babai then came to us and then went for security checking. We decided to wait for the departure of his flight. So, I took Jaya to Top Deck restaurant on the first floor of the airport. We sat there and ordered for a glass of fresh lime soda for each of us.

After Babai boarded his fight and his flight took off, we left for meeting our relatives at Kolkata. We went to the house of Mama. From there we went to see my Baro Maasi and then to see my Chhoto Maasi. They three are the only surviving siblings of my mother. They’re very happy to see us. We then returned to Barrackpur feeing the absence of Babai. We’re missing him very much!