I have had my share of traveling our vastly diverse and uniquely beautiful country. The fact that most of my travels have been on a motorcycle gives me the opportunity to interact with a lot of people. One thing which I have noticed during all my travels is that I have come across a lot of people from Kolkata. Weather I have been admiring the beauty of the Vivekanad rock at Kanyakumari or sipping a Pinacolada at Palolem beach at Goa or riding towards the Longewala battlefield in Rajasthan or soaking in the serenity of Auroville at Pondicherry; I have found the ever chirpy Bengali family vacationing with me almost everywhere. While we should be proud of the fact that the average Kolkattan rates traveling very high in their lifestyle; there are certain clichés which are attached to a typical traveler from Kolkata which can be done away with.
1. Eating rui maach thali at “Dada-Boudir hotel”
Every tourist attraction is littered with restaurants serving the local cuisine but nothing satisfies the average Kolkattan more than frantically searching for the omnipresent “Dada-Boudir hotel” or “Maa Kali hotel” and eating a fish thali. What happened to exploring the local cuisine?
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2. Monkey caps and shawls
Take a walk at the mall road at Darjeeling or the M.G Marg at Gangtok on a nice and balmy summer afternoon. While the temperature outside would be a soothing 25-28 degrees; the ever cautious family from Kolkata will be covered from head to toe in woolens.
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For the uninformed Kolkattan reading this, “Di-Pu-Da” is an abbreviation for “Digha-Puri-Darjeeling”. This abbreviation is pretty common among travelers in Kolkata because this is where they end up traveling to every now and then! The world is a huge place but come Durga Puja; the average Kolkattan family starts swarming these three places.
4. Tak-Jhaal-Mishty Chanachur and Muri
Apart from the regular clothes required for the vacation, every family from Kolkata will have one extra bag which will be full of “Tak-Jhaal-Mishty Chanachur and Muri”, their go-to snack for the hunger of every hour.
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5. Umbrella. Enough Said.
For anyone who has grown up in Kolkata, it is a common sight to see the quintessential Bengali Bhodrolok carrying his black umbrella with him irrespective of the season outside. The same sight becomes the butt of jokes when people who are not so familiar with it see him doing the same.
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6. Comparing everything to Gariahat and Esplanade
We all love to take small souvenirs of the places we have travelled to. But when it comes to the ever experienced Kolkattan aunty, she will bargain the life out of the roadside shopkeeper comparing the price of everything to that of Gariahat and Esplanade.
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These habits might take a long time to get rid of. Let’s start by not eating rui fish thali at every place we go to; because invariably that will be the first thing we will cook and eat once we are back home.