At first, I’d wanted to name my post “How can I describe Kolkata to a visually challenged person?”, because my first week in Kolkata has been a pleasurable experience more to my ears and my nose.
Kolkata is definitely a beautiful city for the eyes, but the last time I’d stepped into the heart of the city was many years ago. Currently, I’ve taken an appartment on the suburbs of the city, and due to my hectic schedule of settling down into my new home, I haven’t had the chance to go out and rediscover the city.
The little that Kolkata has captured so far in my heart are the smells, and things I hear.
Waking up every morning to raucous birds. Not just one species but several, all crying out to each other. That’s a big reason I wake up straight out of bed at ….. 5.30am!!! It’s never happened to me before, I have surprised myself! The noise of the birds coupled with the early rise of the sun ensure I am out of bed at that hour of the morning, very alert and awake and ready to start the day. When I look out of my window, I notice I am not the only one, so people in Kolkata are early risers.
Waking up that early means that by afternoon I am groggy with sleep, and once again it’s the external environment that makes me so. The sun is up high, blinding and hot. There’s almost a pall of lethargy in the air that makes everybody have a nap, including me. A nap that can last me an hour. That’s also something I have done rarely before, taking a nap, so I know now it’s definitely a Kolkata thing! But I must add that the concept of siesta is very common in Kolkata, I see taxi drivers and rickshaw-pullers fast asleep at the ungodly hours of 2-4pm.
One noise that I find very typical of Kolkata is the sound of women blowing on the conch shells. It’s a lovely noise! I remember it faintly of my childhood years spent in this city and I love the noise because it sounds so soothing. That sound is heard mostly in the evenings, as part of evening prayers at home. Most households will have the women blowing on the conches. If my camera was working OK, I would have loaded a photo to give a better idea, but for the moment one must resort to imagination!
Another noise I find pleasant is the soft soothing sounds of traditional local music. When I hear my neighbours playing it on their music systems, I like it very much! 🙂 Another thing about this city is the presence of playgrounds and the noise of children playing. It’s been so long I haven’t heard the noise of children shouting and laughing. My life in France is usually so quiet and isolated, that being surrounded with so muchof agreeable noise of the children, neighbours, and birds singing is a big welcome change!!
And how can I not mention the amazing smells wafting from the neighbours’ kitchens! At first they felt a bit strange to me, the smells were pungent and strong, but once again I started identifying them with smells of my childhood, of running in the late evening with my friends, of the kitchen smells and getting hungry. People of Kolkata, or Bengalis love to cook their food using mustard oil, and though it can be a pungent smell it’s heavenly when you get used to it!
However, there is another sensory experience I cannot say I enjoy at all! And thats the bite of mosquitos! Yes, Kolkata is rife with them! On my visit to the pharmacy last evening, I even heard a man asking for “Odomos”, a mosquito repellant cream. I have to make sure all windows and doors are closed shut by 5pm or otherwise, it’s just a big buffet time for them!