CALCUTTA NOSTALGIA

Magnificent and dilapidated, resplendent and despairing, once the capital of the British Raj, Calcutta, which seems to be stuck in 1947, the year of the end of English rule, has always been perceived as the intellectual and cultural heart of India. And if the city that today spells its name Kolkata has preserved a rich colonial architecture, the semi-dilapidation of many edifices in this metropolis renders an account of the past and dissolved imperial splendor of the Bengali kaleidoscope. If, since long ago, the poor are no longer dying on the streets, the rickshaws are stilled pulled manually and there is always a god to celebrate, the pretext for processions and festivities setting the rhythm for the seasons and which all finish in a human chaos on the ghats of the Hooghly River, the little Ganges of Bengal. In Calcutta, between the inhabitants and the city, a baroque love story seems to unfold. Far from the tourist itineraries, the historic center of Calcutta should be discovered in a venerable Ambassador, the yellow taxis that by the thousands drive along and honk their horns in the city streets causing at certain hours colossal traffic jams. It's in Maidan Park, the city's heart and lung, where Calcutta's history begins in the 18th century and it's there where you should look for the diluted flavor of old England with its vast avenues punctuated with grandiose edifices, churches and gardens where on Sundays cricket matches are still played. The Victoria Memorial majestically holds pride of place to the south of the Maidan, it's immaculate white dome reflecting in the ponds of the garden that surround it. A gigantic monument in white marble, something between the White House and the Taj Mahal, built to commemorate Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee, it is today a museum and park much appreciated by the inhabitants. To the north of the Maidan, the administrative quarter of BBD Bagh owes its name to three members of the independence movement: Benoy, Badal and Dinesh. Post office, chamber of commerce, High Court, St John and St Andrew church, the governor's house, the Writer’s Building… everything reminds us that at one time Calcutta was the capital of the Indian Empire.

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