01 August, 2021

Calcutta Diary

In Outlook this week, Australian High Commissioner to India's diary on her visit to Kolkata.

Calcutta Diary
Kindred Adda Spirits

My briefings were from patchy sources: City Of Joy; stories of Mother Teresa; the Black Hole of Calcutta, and tales by my father of his sojourn in Calcutta from where, having travelled there from post-Partition Punjab as a teenage boy, he boarded a ship with his mother to join my grandfather to live in Singapore. With this background in mind, I had never expected to fall in love with Calcutta—these were stories of a city teeming with people; stories of chaos and confusion, poverty and hardship.  They gave me little inkling of what I would actually find.

I visited for the first time in 2016, and took to some flaneuring to break the ice. That’s when the love affair began. I was amazed by the beauty and elegance of the old city and by its history, culture and food. Its peculiar cosmopolitanism—people from all walks of life living side by side, give the city a palpable energy and dynamism. But the best...

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