One night with Friends, Mothers and the Calcutta Bungalow

I am a true Calcutta-n . So much so , I refuse to be called from ” Kolkata”. I cringed every time when Ravi Shastri left behind his stylish pronunciation of ” Cal- Khu- TTa” to “KAWL-KAWTTa”. I was born and raised by the city. My idiosyncrasies, my thoughts, my love for print, a quintessential middle-class being are few things that have permanently altered my gene pool. And even when I have shifted my base to the western hemisphere, whenever I go back, I take a nosedive into the nostalgia pool and embrace my inner “calcutta-n”, albeit with a bottle of mineral water in hand.

This year it was special. My nostalgic dive was accompanied by my most cherished school friends – with whom I have shared over two decades of my thinking life. When we four met in the fateful morning of our reunion at “Boipara” we had no idea, we would be sleeping in her namesake with a framed copy of “Raj Kahini”. In case you are wondering Boipara was one of the suites we had booked for our night stay at the art deco heritage B&B called Calcutta Bungalow.

Calcutta Bungalow story

Calcutta Bungalow is a restructured heritage townhouse situated very close to the famed “Nokur Chandra Dey’s Mishti” shop, in an otherwise quaint alley of Shyambazaar, Kolkata. When the Uber driver dropped us at the Green Ambassador flanked doorstep of the pink 3 storey building, it almost felt like being transported into a movie set of the 1920s. I was not too wrong though, the original townhouse was built in 1926. It was purchased by Calcutta connoisseur Ifte (Iftekhar Ahsan) and his school friend Chris Chen. Ifte has always been a Calcutta Passionista. His Calcutta Walks , one of a kind, comprised walking or bike tours across heritage and historic alleys of this old city. In one of his videos, he says, “One of the biggest motivations behind pursuing the dream of Calcutta Bungalow was to hold on to the heritage of the City. Most of the city’s heritage properties are giving way to big apartment complexes. For me it is painful”.

Calcutta Bungalow story

As we walked inside, we marveled at the reception, aptly named “Baithak Khana” with wood paneled walls and a very chic looking wooden desk at the front. The hosts were I guess used to the initial look of surprise and awe of their guests and patiently answered all the questions we had. And we were a group of 7! We were shown three rooms, “Boipara“, “Shahib Para” and “Darzi Para” – unusual name choices. But as we checked in each theme nicely presented them to us. The King size plush bed with “kaantha” styled blankets looked cozy yet quaint. The wooden “meat-shelf” styled coat rack, and arched windows – all set perfect well along with each other. One of my favorites was the floor made of tiled nameplates. Every older house in the city had a tiled nameplate at their front gates back in the days. Fancier homes were named after ancestors, as a mark of their blessing.

Calcutta Bungalow story

The rooms also had a wooden desk with a typewriter (They were functional). One could easily picturize themselves typing a letter instead of texting.. But the heritage part was every bit married to the modern, with air conditioned rooms and other amenities. One of the suites had a huge brass bathtub located in the ensuite , and one look was almost enough to relax our achy muscles from our day tour across the city.

Calcutta Bungalow story

Our evening that well progressed to late night glittered with the quintessential adda and take away Indo-Chinese cuisine. Our mothers who had a mini-reunion themselves kept us the “kids” entertained with their gossips. Our adda was flavoured with Masala and Lebu cha delivered at our bedside by an ever-smiling “Maadhu” – the chaperone.

The morning after, we were ushered to the common dining room – Notunbazaar on the second floor. The lamps above the table were re-purposed from loudspeakers – another trademark of the “Biplobi” Bengali culture. Hot breakfast included in our room package contained fresh fruits, hot “kochuri” and “aloordom“. The absence of sweets was personally taken care of , and we soon received freshly made batch of “sandesh” hand delivered to us.

Calcutta Bungalow story

After further photo sessions, we left the bungalow, only this time we took back with us a part of “Calcutta Heritage”.. an essence of “Shabeki Bangaliana” . Our cross- country, cross-generational reunion became so much more memorable due to the hospitality, authenticity, and the unique heritage stay – Calcutta Bungalow.

About Moumita Chakraborty

Moumita is gritty and persevering, besides being a subject matter expert on anything she sets her heart to. Her writing style pins on her empathy for the subject and fluidity of thought. She is great with people, which makes her a fabulous feature author and a Partner Relations expert.

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Moumita Chakraborty

Moumita is gritty and persevering, besides being a subject matter expert on anything she sets her heart to. Her writing style pins on her empathy for the subject and fluidity of thought. She is great with people, which makes her a fabulous feature author and a Partner Relations expert.

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