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Friday, March 30, 2012

An institution called College Street

I have just returned from Kolkata, my sixth visit in five years. You would think I now know Kolkata like the back of my hand. But that's not the case, sadly. These trips to the City of Joy have been what I call "flying visits" I land at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose airport on a Saturday and I'm back at the airport to board my flight to Bangalore the following Monday. So, as far as sightseeing is concerned, I have been to Park Street (and eaten there), I have visited the Victoria Memorial, I know my way around Gariahat.

But, because of the paucity of time, I have never been to College Street. Which will come as a surprise to people who know me and my love of books.

By a coincidence, the latest issue of The Week carries a fairly detailed feature on College Street. Titled "The heart of Kolkata", the article by Rabi Banerjee explains why the street continues to be a popular hangout. It also gives us some history relating to the area:

Thanks to its proximity to famous educational institutions, College Street saw major student movements in the '70s. A number of brilliant minds from Bengal, who could have led the country in different spheres, joined the Naxalite movement. Many of them lost their lives in police encounters in the alleys of College Street. Political protests and demonstrations take place here even today. But elders who were witnesses to the bloodbath in the '60s and '70s warn students not to get embroiled in violent movements.

But College Street is not all about books. To know more, and to understand why College Street will definitely be on my itinerary when I next visit Kolkata, read Rabi Banerjee's article in its entirety here.

BOOKED FOR LIFE: COLLEGE STREET IN KOLKATA. (Photo courtesy: The Week)