CalcuttaScape : Nalini Rajan

Presenting a new section to the readers : CalcuttaScape. It would be a guest column on One and a Half Minutes, in which published authors will write about their experiences on visits to Calcutta. I will be approaching non-resident authors who have visited for a vacation or stayed in Calcutta for a short while.

I know, dear readers, the first question cropping on your mind would be, why Calcutta? I’m not sure if I have a satisfactory answer for this one. It is my city, at times it has been my muse, it has been a companion in my early adult years, it has been a witness to a major part of my life. This is probably my way of paying a tribute to Calcutta, by bringing to you words flown from famous authors, on a city that never ceases to amaze.

The second article in this column is from author Nalini Rajan, her first novel ‘The Pangolin’s Tale’ was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize, 2007.



Howrah Bridge, 1945 (Image Courtesy: Wikipedia)

Howrah Bridge, 1945 (Image Courtesy: Wikipedia)

I have visited Calcutta three times, and I have mere fragments of memories of this city.

The first time I went to Calcutta, I was nine years of age. I was travelling by train from Delhi with my 12-year-old sister and a 20-year-old male cousin, Shekhar. “Girls, there are lots of things you should see in Calcutta”, our father advised us. “This is a city, brimming with history!” He looked somewhat dreamy. “And Howrah Bridge is something you see, anyway, from the train”, he added, as he waved us goodbye at Delhi station.

Right at the beginning of the 20-hour journey my sister and I knew one thing: we loathed our cousin, and he, for his part, simply forgot that we existed. It was lucky that our mother had packed loads of food for the train journey – else her daughters would surely have perished of hunger. For the most part of the trip, Shekhar would hang out with people his age, and usually of the opposite sex. Not once did he ask us, out of cousinly concern, if we needed anything! We were so puffed up with righteous indignation at this benign neglect, that we missed seeing Howrah Bridge altogether, as we approached Calcutta.

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