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Reading this book has only made my desire to visit the city stronger. And until I can do that, I will continue to skip through the pages for a quick stop.
Side note: I believe I love the cover of this book as much as I enjoyed the book itself. A totally Instagram worthy book cover!
Mar 26, Piyali rated it liked it Shelves: non-fiction. Certain parts of this book truly spoke to me. It took me back to the days when I traversed the city, either with friends, or alone, for work.
The experience of riding a tightly packed public bus, roaming the streets and getting lost in tiny gulleys, observing life that goes on in the remotest corners of this busy metropolis.
Kolkata is not an easy city to love. I can not truly direct a tourist to this city, and the author successfully captures that exact feeling.
The pull of Kolkata, 3. The pull of Kolkata, for us, Kolkatans, is inexplicable and perhaps difficult for others to understand.
There is a spontaneous beat within the city which one can only feel if one is attuned to it. The city is easy to hate and difficult to love.
The author nails this dichotomy as he presents Kolkata in his book with warts and all. Nov 09, Eric Sall rated it really liked it Shelves: indian-books.
I visited Calcutta last week and started this book while I was there. The author is a young Indian who spent his childhood in Calcutta and the US, was educated at Princeton and then moved back to Calcutta to work as a reporter.
He interweaves his personal memories, his life as a young married man, and his family history with the history of the city. Great writing and vivid observations.
I learned a lot and got a kick out of reading about places and things I had just seen myself. I definitely wou I visited Calcutta last week and started this book while I was there.
Sep 06, Anirudha Bhattacharjee rated it really liked it. A very NRIsh style of recounting stories of a place the author tries to relate to. Or does he?
Positives include a great writing style, but surely that is to be expected by someone who spent most of his formative years in NJ, US.
For the content, well, just as an NRI would react to situations beyond him. Apr 06, Gayla Bassham rated it liked it Shelves: reads , memoir , india.
I do love reading about India, but this book wasn't particularly well structured and it was often repetitive. There is material of interest here, but it's harder than it should be to find it.
As the name has suggested , the book gives us some inside views of Calcutta. The people of Calcutta , the street foods, the culture ,everything has been written with full heart,nostalgia and empathy.
The book is full with minute details about this city and the people. A reader can easily get a vision full experiences through this amazing writing of this author.
The writing of this author is very lucid, which is I really admired. This book has showcased how this city is different from other As the name has suggested , the book gives us some inside views of Calcutta.
This book has showcased how this city is different from other cities of India. And let's talk about the cover. The cover has showcased the street of the city with the Heritage Yellow Taxi.
I think the cover is perfect for this book. A memoir as well as a book on a city, Choudhary captures the dreariness, squalor and decay of Kolkata in the 90's and 00's perfectly, with detours going back a few decades to the time of WW2 and Independence, recounting the horrors of Hindu-Muslim riots, the great Bengal famine and Partition, and the impact of these events on evolution of the city.
In the midst of all this gloom, there are splendid uplifting moments such as when he meets groups of unknown poets, and publishers of 'little' magazi A memoir as well as a book on a city, Choudhary captures the dreariness, squalor and decay of Kolkata in the 90's and 00's perfectly, with detours going back a few decades to the time of WW2 and Independence, recounting the horrors of Hindu-Muslim riots, the great Bengal famine and Partition, and the impact of these events on evolution of the city.
In the midst of all this gloom, there are splendid uplifting moments such as when he meets groups of unknown poets, and publishers of 'little' magazines, who exemplify the Bengali love for the arts.
Feb 07, Gina rated it it was amazing Shelves: nonfiction , memoirs-biographies-autobiographies , giveaways , favorites , india. This book was won in a Goodreads giveaway - thank you to the author and publisher!
The book was very well written and kept my interest. I learned some things I would never have known about Calcutta, the people, and their traditions.
Kushanava Choudhury writes about his time, both as a youngster and as an adult, living between two very distinct and different worlds: India and the United States.
His parents were world travelers, and by the age of 12, he had traveled much more than most of us would This book was won in a Goodreads giveaway - thank you to the author and publisher!
His parents were world travelers, and by the age of 12, he had traveled much more than most of us would ever dream of doing in 10 lifetimes.
After graduating from Princeton, his heart took him back to his beloved India. Despite the horrible weather conditions everything from heat so terrific a person could hardly breathe, to the rainy seasons where you were damp all the time , he loved his homeland.
He talks of mosquitoes so dense it was hard to walk through them, and many carried malaria. He still loved India, especially Calcutta.
His relatives who lived there had a hard time understanding why he chose Calcutta, when conditions were so much better in New Delhi, Bangladore, and Bombay.
Kushanava accepted a position with the local English-speaking newspaper, The Statesman. He perused the streets, talk to the vendors hawking goods on the streets, and was wary of the Communist ministers that traveled in opulent motorcades.
He is determined to improve life in Calcutta on the whole. In one very touching scene, his beloved grandmother dies and they must transport her to the crematorium, one of the many traditions that is followed.
The narrative was touching and heartfelt. I was astonished to learn that when they waited for her ashes, which are to be placed in the sacred waters, the navel does not burn.
This area of body, where life first affirms itself as the new life attaches to its mother, is thought to be of signifant spiritual importance.
That touched my heart. I highly recommend this book - travel to Calcutta, both the good and the bad, and see it through the eyes of a man whose heart remains with his birth home.
Ostensibly, it was written for me, a lover of Kolkata who can never get enough of the city. How disappointing, then, to be so often bored and underwhelmed by the too short, disconnected vignettes and slapdash histories here.
If epicness is on display, one would have expected a bit Perhaps the publisher, author, and I should have known that this was impossible from the outset.
Jan 12, kapil rated it really liked it Shelves: aspiring-writers. Had author reduced the general history of Kolkata Partition, Naxalbari, etc and his family history irrelevant to the city of Kolkata and had actively interviewed different characters from the city I would have given 5 stars.
Anyway it's a good book. Jun 13, Kunal Sen rated it liked it. I have spent my entire childhood and most of my youth in Calcutta, and left the city a few years before the author went back there to work in a Newspaper office.
Even though my connection with the city was never severed, as I was making several trips a year, I was no longer an insider. My main curiosity about this book came from the expectation of seeing the city again, beyond the time of my departure, through the eyes of an insider-outsider.
The author is not a pure Calcuttan, and sees the city I have spent my entire childhood and most of my youth in Calcutta, and left the city a few years before the author went back there to work in a Newspaper office.
The author is not a pure Calcuttan, and sees the city with eyes that have seen a larger world, yet, he was living right there and struggling to survive in a city where survival itself is a struggle.
I enjoyed the shared nostalgia of the city -- its smells and sounds and people, but for that I could go to many books and essays written by other Calcuttans, or sit down in an adda with a few fellow Calcuttans.
So the real value comes from the understanding of these realities and seeing it in the perspective of history and the world. That's where I felt the book left me only partially satisfied.
There are glimpses of that deeper observation and understanding, but just as often his views seemed to be shallow and lacked complete understanding.
For example, one cannot talk about the city without talking about its leftist past, including the bloody Maoist phase in the late sixties and seventies.
The author acknowledges this history, but it was before his time. So he tries to see it through people he met who lived through it.
He dismisses most of it as the act of a few delusional people, a few adventure seekers, and many who just wanted to take advantage of it.
Perhaps he didn't meet the right people who could have also showed him the deep ideological and moral conviction that many people carried, and not all of it was in vain.
It is also risky to judge that political phase only by looking at what happened in the big city, ignoring the rest of the state. It also seemed to me that his exposure to the local culture through its literature, theatre, cinema was somewhat limited.
As a result it remained mostly a series of vignettes and personal impressions, which is not bad in itself, but inadequate, especially when he starts analyzing the city and its culture.
In the end, I feel it is a great first draft, but a lot more has to happen to make it a memorable book. Jan 04, Richa Bhattarai rated it liked it.
I visited Calcutta for the first and only time when I was around nine - a delayed train left us stranded in this city. Buwa took us aboard a ferry, to get closer to the Howrah bridge.
Calcutta brings back blurred memories of a crowded boat ride, the bridge looming ahead, agitated waters.
Now, of course, many of us including me imagine a very different Calcutta - beautiful doe-eyed women in red-and-white sarees, intelligent Bengali scholars and poets, exuberant Durgo Pujo.
Away from all of it, I visited Calcutta for the first and only time when I was around nine - a delayed train left us stranded in this city. A city that has wonderful traditions and awe-inspiring culture, yet is crushed beneath the weight of the massacres, famines and trauma it has undergone over the years.
He is honest, humorous and perceptive. Sometimes it gets taxing, though, to constantly accompany him on his attempt to solve his existential crises.
The works needs crisper editing - anecdotes and incidents get repeated twice or thrice in some chapters. The meandering style, which is quite self-indulgent, can also bore quite some readers.
I enjoyed this journey, and will read more books on places in the coming year. Really want to experiment more with non-fiction, and would welcome recommendations.
Jun 15, Peter rated it liked it. Choudhury had fond memories of his childhood in Calcutta, after he graduated from undergraduate he went back to Calcutta The Writer Kushanava Choudhury who published a memoir called The Epic City: The World on the Streets of Calcutta in is about his relationship with the city of Calcutta, the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal.
Choudhury had fond memories of his childhood in Calcutta, after he graduated from undergraduate he went back to Calcutta to write for one of the city, English-language newspaper, The Statesman.
In the late s, Choudhury and his New Delhi-raised wife, who had relatives in Calcutta, lived their early married live in Calcutta, so she could her complete her fieldwork for her anthropology Ph.
Yet fifteen million people still lived in Calcutta. Working for the Statesman, its leading English newspaper, Kushanava Choudhury found the streets of his childhood unchanged by time.
Shouting hawkers still overran the footpaths, fish-sellers squatted on bazaar floors; politics still meant barricades and bus burnings, while Communist ministers travelled in motorcades.
Sifting through the chaos for the stories that never make the papers, Kushanava Choudhury paints a soulful, compelling portrait of the everyday lives that make Calcutta.
Written with humanity, wit and insight, The Epic City is an unforgettable portrait of an era, and a city which is a world unto itself.
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View other formats and editions. Everything that could possibly be wrong with a city was wrong with Calcutta When Kushanava Choudhury arrived in New Jersey at the age of twelve, he had already migrated halfway around the world four times.
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