Oh Kolkata!

Recently, I had a chance to visit Kolkata over a weekend. Having spent about 9 years in the city, I do love the city a lot. The roads and streets reminded me about the time I had spent traversing them as a student. The people looked distinctively familiar and the feeling was very warm. There was something that didn’t feel very familiar to the spirit of the city. I saw something that I was longing to see in the city for a long time, but was elusive – Change. Kolkata is evolving fast and it’s catching up really fast with its counterparts in other parts of the country. Here’s a short list of what struck me –

  • Gone are the days when eating out was a weekend business. Gone are the days when there were only two cuisines – Punjabi and Chinese. It appears that the people are eating out more often these days. And, there are restaurants of all kinds, Mexican, Italian, Continental, Moroccan, Greek et al.The weekends obviously see packed restaurants and people throng to the discotheques and lounges to shake a leg to the latest bollywood numbers. But, interestingly, I saw most Park Street restaurants packed even on a Monday! I had to wait for about 30 minutes to get into my favourite sizzler joint in the area!
  • It’s not only the neo-Bengalis who are going for eat-outs. We have a whole new breed of neo-Marwadis who are flocking to these places. This is encouraging popular restaurants from other cities to set up shop in Kolkata. Read This.
  • It looks like money is pouring in the city with consumerism on the rise. For instance, Tommy Hilfiger and Swarovski have higher sales in Kolkata than that in Bangalore.
  • IT is happening. There are well-paying jobs and swank offices. The Salt Lake electronic city is abuzz with techies from various parts of the country. I also heard that a large chunk of the IT workforce worked on a “bandh” day, which is simply incredible for a city like Kolkata.
  • The upcoming township of Rajarhat looks extremely promising. I could see construction work by developers like DLF and Unitech, among others. Given the cost of living in the city and the relatively lower real estate prices (compared to a monster called Bangalore), IT companies are setting up huge off-shore development centers in the area. To complement that, there are tones of housing projects to take care of the needs of the workforce.

Having stayed in the city for so long and seen almost no positive changes at all, I had almost given up on Kolkata. But, I have been proven wrong. The journey of change is slow, but it is surely underway. The world of opportunities is just opening up and it doesn’t look like a bus that you want to miss.

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