Before I met Amrita, Bengali culture to me meant nothing more than a community of fish loving people and C. R. Park represented the “land of chubby cheeks” :) Well, both these believes still prevail but there is much more to it than what meets the eye. Now when I reflect, I wonder how I ended up falling in love with a Bengali girl when I never preferred or was rather ignorant of their culture & believes. It’s an interesting story but this blog isn't about love story, is it? So let’s stick to the topic. There are so many things I want to write about. How do I start? Having spent several days in Chittaranjan Park, let me start from there. “This place is different”.
I belong to Delhi, born & raised here. I have been to several localities & neighborhood but this place is different. At first, C. R. Park looks just like any other up town area. Blocks of houses, endless cars, hawkers on the streets, shops, temples and so on… Is it really different? Look closely and you will find the difference. Where else in Delhi will you find a 24/7 carrom board corner on the street, where else can you exit a temple and step into a fish market, where else will you find Durga Puja madness, where else can u still enjoy kullad (clay cup) tea. From the way women wear sarees to its cuisine, place is different. My curiosity to know more about this place led me to history. Yeah, I know, history is boring. But I had to find out the why & how of this uniqueness.
C. R. Park was established in 1960s. Back then, it was known as East Pakistan Displaced Persons Colony, which was created to provide shelter to displaced Bengali people. The colony was founded with about 2400 plots going exclusively to migrants from East Bengal. Progressive, cosmopolitan yet deeply rooted, this place is continuously evolving. To understand flavor of C.R. Park, we have to go back to the mother ship: Bengal. I promise to come back to present, for now it’s important to understand its origin. Gopal Krishna Gokhale once said – “What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow”. Bengal has been pioneer to so many things: First capital of British India, first railway in India, first tram car, first telegraphs line in India. It is the origin of India’s national anthem & nation song. List goes on…
This is just a start. I will continue to toggle between past & present to present Bengali people & culture through my eyes.