Tilottama at a glance

Tilottama at a glance

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Tilottama At A Glance is compiled from a series of blog posts written for the A to Z challenge. It’s not merely the A B C’s of Kolkata for a casual traveller. This book allows you to acquaint yourself with the heart and soul of a rather unusual Indian city with loads of quirks. It is a journey through the culture, history, architecture, idiosyncrasies and other endearing or astonishing traits of Kolkata, that make this…

Being a Kolkatan, this book was a real treat to me. Having grown up in this City of Joy, I could very well connect with the thoughts and emotions that oozed from the lines penned on every page. They are not mere words but emotions; a connection the residents have, with this city. 

Appreciate the author Sreeparna Sen for her efforts to extract the essence and that too in a chronological order. The book has the A-Z information about the Tilottama we admire. It is not a guide map of the city. Rather the author highlighted and presented the heart and soul of the place. The moments each live here, the places and the main attractions, the historical monuments that draw people from around the world, into this city. From Adda, till Zoo, the author has carefully presented the essence, the soul of this city, occasions, celebrations that happen year around. For, I think, only the people who lived in this city and seen these; will rightly connect with the thoughts shared. 

Addas to rewind, and thoughts like, “you can take adda theks out of the city but you cannot take adda out of Kolkata.”- so true! The mention of the long history of addas, the characters and noted personalities related to the concept, made this more interesting. Then comes Boimela and Boipara which sees gatherings of booklovers, who wait eagerly for its arrival. I could very well connect to the thoughts and emotions related to this part. Indeed it’s like an annual pilgrimage for every Kolkatan. The visual imagery was prominent; the descriptions so clear that it transported me to the Boimela and Boipara. This was a travel down the memory lane for me. oh, so nostalgic! “You have to experience it, to understand it.”- true again! 

Cha or Coffee- It was quite interesting to learn about the tiger and the chaiwala story. True that the freshly brewed tea in bhars is irreplaceable. The world famous Coffee House couldn’t have been missed at all. There may be a very few people around the globe who doesn’t know about the famous Durga Puja of Kolkata. The author has vividly explained the true spirit and it warmed my heart. I got carried away while reading the book. The author described Durga Puja in details, and the events that happen during those days. This will rouse the zeal in every reader to visit at Kolkata and be a part of that grand festival. 

One can learn so much from this book, for, the author shared incidents that was not just entertaining, but was informative too. The detailing is what impressed me since the book took me on an entire tour of the city, witness its festivals and fairs and enjoy some mouth watering delicacies too. The book was written during the Covid lockdown period, so the author shared her observations, the different scenario in this account. The Eden Gardens, the emotions attached to the cricket matches… And yes, Football and kolkata is inseparable. “Kolkata is passionate. Be it arts or sports. Kolkatans love and live all with soul.”- True words. Music holds a special place in the heart of every Kolkatan. Reading about Rabindranath Tagore, Nazrul Islam was truly refreshing. 

The Howrah Bridge is no less than a wonder and is standing tall and strong since ages. What I loved more was how the author shared her own life stories to express her love for the city. Indeed the cantilever bridge is a structure to behold and we all have memories connected to it. This book fetched a lot of fond memories and the more I’m reading it, the more I’m loving and enjoying it. Be it the monuments or food- Kolkata has it all and that’s what the author told us in this book. Ilish being a famous fish, found a place here for, it is dearly loved by all who knows its taste. The fine way in which she connected the parts, is surely praiseworthy. The Jaadu Ghar reminded me of my own visits there as a kid. The museums, planetariums, were our favourite hangout places. Hence, living those forgotten moments through this book is truly a great feeling. 

Oh, food and Kolkata are synonyms I can say. My mouth started watering as I read the authors words. She listed my favourites and made me crave for those street foods. A must-visit place and some must-have foods will surely lure many to visit this city of joy. Lyadh- haha! A word I got acquainted to quite recently. Thus enjoyed reading about its real meaning. And then the mention of Maidan, the vast open area, the numerous gatherings of people, the moments one gets to witness there, was so aptly put by the author. She didn’t miss to enlighten us with the historical facts and connections related to each place. Art runs in the blood and thus she didn’t miss to include Natok, stage theatre which even I love to watch. I’m enjoying my journey through the pages of this book. Unputdownable. The cultural identity, the interesting facts- everything found place here. 

Through this chronicle, the author has highlighted almost everything that speaks of the city; that is the soul of this place. The hidden gems, the history, the noted personalities, sports, food, markets, monuments… everything can be learnt from this book. Para and Pnpc(gossip) are again inseparable and Kolkata’s stories would be incomplete without these. Indeed, “kolkata is incomplete without its para culture.” I loved the emotions with which the author penned the letter to her quarantined city. She poured her heart out and one can feel her love for the city through the words shared. Rosogolla and Rabindranath Tagore- the two things Kolkata is known for, worldwide. The detailing of information was done with keen eyes. Memories came gushing as I’m turning the leaves; reminding me of the beautiful things and charm of this city. Reading this book is like taking a walk down the streets and learning about Tilottama, afresh. “Ray and Kolkata is like a match made in heaven”- true. 

The mention of eco-friendly trams the good old Yellow taxis that still adorn the roads of Kolkata, the tram museum, the noted film personalities like Uttam-Suchitra, the Tollywood film studios, the Bengali movies, the romanticism that dwell in the heart of Kolkatans, our fascination for the historical Victoria Memorial and its Museum… there’s so much in Kolkata and that is exactly the message the author tried to share through this lovely, informative book. The famous but forgotten Gun Battle in the verandah and the three brave martyrs came alive in this chronicle. The inspiring and noteworthy incidents mentioned in this book was a real treat to read. These refreshed the old memories. 

Right when I’m serious reading about the political mayhem during British India, the author spoke of Christmas and Park street in her next part. The mention of the crowded restaurants, roads, food stalls –  reminded me of the spirit of Christmas in Kolkata. The story of the taxi driver, his words were heart-warming indeed. The fond memories the author shared were so good to read about. Last but an iconic place in Kolkata, the Zoo, one of the oldest zoo in India, is worth mentioning. The realization about the concept of zoo, the animals being prisoners like us in isolation, is something to contemplate. Though I loved enjoyed the place, I too wish things to change and the animals to be freed in their usual habitat. 

I totally enjoyed reading the book and will treasure it. If you really wish to know about Kolkata, you must read this book to get the feel, the information you need about this city of joy. A Kolkatan or not, everyone will enjoy reading this book for it holds much more than just about the city in general. Grab one, read and do share your thoughts to appreciate the authors work. 

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