Summer Vacation: The trademark edifice of Kolkata – Part – VI

For a long time, the city of Kolkata served as the capital of the British Raj in its early days till Delhi was crowned as its capital in 1911. During the British colonial era, the city witnessed a spate of frenzied construction activity of buildings. Unlike many north Indian cities, you will find the architectural variety in Kolkata owes its origins to European styles and tastes imported by the British and, to a much lesser extent, the Portuguese and French.

However, no other building can claim to represent the city as much vividly as Victoria Memorial does. Often consider as the Taj Mahal of the East. It is one of the most beautiful and celebrated structure of the city and the best examples of traditional British architecture. The memorial now serves as a museum and a major tourist attraction in the city.

Victoria Memorial holds special childhood memories for me. It’s been long since we visited the memorial, hence during our recent trip to the city, we decided to visit the wonderful and spacious memorial complex.

Victoria Memorial, a perfect example of beauty and grace

Victoria Memorial, a perfect example of beauty and grace

After the death of Queen Victoria, Lord Curzon, one of India’s most flamboyant Viceroys of British India, planned to build a memorial in loving memory of Queen Victoria of England, who was also called by the title of “Empress of India” during British rule of India, as well as the success of her empire in India. The cost of the memorial came to a staggering sum of over one crores rupees and came from princely states and rich Indians who were loyal to the empire.

A statue of Queen Victoria at the entrance

A statue of Queen Victoria at the entrance

This memorial was designed by Sir William Emerson in an architectural style similar to another Famous tourist destination Belfast City Hall. He was also fascinated with the beauty of Taj Mahal. White Makrana marbles were used in the construction of Victoria Memorial Hall. The huge gardens surrounding the memorial were also inspired by the char bagh of Taj. It took nearly sixteen years to complete and was inaugurated in 1921.

The memorial is located at the southern end of the sprawling Kolkata Maidan and is surrounded by sprawling garden and lakes.

The crown of the city

The crown of the city

Victoria Memorial

Victoria Memorial

You can enter the complex either from Maidan or from Rabindra Sadan or Race Course side, after buying the tickets (Rs.10/- including museum). On both sides of the main pathway, you can see lakes. Pathways and pavements are clean and well-maintained. We went straight to the museum.

Museum

The Victoria Memorial has 25 galleries, spread over 2 different floors. The collection covers a fascinating selection of Raj memorabilia, and includes the Calcutta Gallery with oil paintings and watercolors of the city’s history. The central hall of the museum houses the massive life-sized statue of the Queen. We come across a wide range of different weapons used at that time, organized neatly with labels. There are galleries housing paintings,  weapons, photographs and statues. The impressive collection of artifacts, paintings, manuscripts, pictures and memorabilia housed in the Victoria Hall takes you to a journey through the history of the colonial era. The Royal Gallery, with its beautiful paintings depicts the important events in the life of Queen Victoria.

You can also see various marble statues of British Lords and Generals such as Lord Dalhousie, Lord Wellesly, Lord Cornwallis and few others. Photography is strictly prohibited inside the museum. You will need to spend nearly 2 hours to see the entire museum. A visit to the museum will definitely take you to the time when Kolkata served as the capital of the British Raj.

The grand dome surrounded by pillars resembles the Taj Mahal

The grand dome surrounded by pillars resembles the Taj Mahal

The marble statue of Lord Curzon, the brainchild of the Memorial

The marble statue of Lord Curzon, the brainchild of the Memorial

There is an angel, a big statue of copper on iron, atop the dome of Victoria Memorial. The Angel of Victory was made in Rome and weighs about 4.5 metric tonnes. The angel carries a flute, and the entire statue is a wind-vane which shows the wind direction. Originally, it was placed on a mercury ball that helped it to revolve and the weight got distributed to the entire structure.

The angel

The angel

Once you come out from the museum, you may wish to consider walking around the building through the flowered gardens. You will love the surrounding environment while walking in the garden. You can see multiple statues throughout your walk in the garden. The statue of Lord Bentinck is especially life-like. If you enter through Race Course side, you can see a massive gate welcoming you to the memorial and atop the gate stands a neatly designed statue of King Edward VII.

View from Race Course entrance

View from Race Course entrance

King Edward VII

King Edward VII

Victoria Memorial Garden is a lover’s paradise, so you may not enjoy your walk if you are traveling with your children.  This could be one of the major drawbacks. But, if you are traveling alone, in a group or if you can ignore and just want to see the beauty of the places, there are plenty of options for you to sit in the benches and can even drink the beauty of the building from there for several hours.

...drink the beauty of the building from there for several hours.

…drink the beauty of the building from there for several hours.

It is a wonderful sight when Victorial Memorial is lit up at night. There is a light & sound show every day evening and you can even enjoy a ride in ‘Ekka Gari’ to see the surrounding areas at night.

"Ekka Gari"

“Ekka Gari”

The Victoria Memorial stands tall at the heart of the city, as a perfect example of beauty and grace. A trip to Kolkata is incomplete without visiting Victoria Memorial. I would also suggest you to visit few more places around Victoria Memorial.

Birla Planetarium

Birla Planetarium, one of the oldest in India. The only planetarium in the country whose dome houses a collection of projectors and optical equipment expensively imported from East Germany. It is also the largest planetarium in South-East Asia and the second largest in the world.

Everyday, there are three shows in Bengali, Hindi and English. The entry fee is Rs.40/- per person, including children. It will definitely create interest about space amongst school children. A walking distance (~ 5 mins) from Victoria Memorial. A  must visit place for school children, along with Science City in Kolkata.

Birla Planetarium

Birla Planetarium

Saint Paul’s Cathedral

You can also visit and pray in St. Paul’s Cathedral, which is just adjacent to the Planetarium. This Indo-Gothic designed Saint Paul’s Cathedral, is an Anglican cathedral of the Church of North India and one of the major attraction point in Kolkata. The building was initiated by Bishop Daniel Wilson in 1839 and was completed in 1847.

Saint Paul’s Cathedral

Saint Paul’s Cathedral

You always expect there is something special whenever you will go to any new place, as well as your eagerness to explore the new place a lot more. However, there is a possibility that you may still feel a little unfulfilled, may think that few things will be skipped or missed entirely. Apart from the above, you can visit Rabindra Sadan, which is a cultural centre and theatre, located near the Nandan cinema (a cultural complex), Nehru Children Museum or the Academy of Fine Arts. All these are just a stone-throw away distance from Victoria Memorial.

The city offers almost everything for everyone. Depending on your choice and interest, you can plan your trip accordingly…see you soon

…To be continued

24 Comments

  • venkatt says:

    Superb post as usual, Amitava. Nice description and pics of this beautiful memorial.

  • Sharmistha Dan says:

    Liked this post very much Amitava. I think you will soon replace SRK as the brand ambassador of Kolkata. Jokes apart, I had visited Victoria Memorial years back. Your post has instigated me to visit it again…and look at it in a different way than I did as a child.

    • Amitava Chatterjee says:

      Thank you Sharmistha.
      Do visit whenever your time permits…and explore the city a lot more than us…
      when you re-visit any place after a long time, the trip will take you to those childhood days…you might not fully understand the importance or beauty of the place, it was just like a day’s outing with your parents or near & dear ones and we were happy when we returned home.

      Now, when you go back after a long time, you are aware of the place, it’s importance and can actually explore from a different angles…for your child, it’s the same feeling of yours’…and it once again proves that life is a cycle…

      I still wonder about the choice of ‘BM’…is there no other personalities left in Bengal to be the Brand Ambassador….yesterday he was there just to promote his upcoming film ‘Chennai Express’…what’s his contribution towards Bengal? Just owning a Team is enough to be the Brand Ambassador of the city? ‘KKR’ is a business and there’s nothing called ‘love’ for the city…I am a fan of him since ‘Circus’ days…still…

  • Rakesh Bawa says:

    Amitava Ji, Mazza aa gaya, my God.

  • Hello Amitava…

    Great post on one of those cities of India of which I have several fond memories associated with.
    I have not lived there for years but visited the city with my family on the way to Sikkim and those 2 days spent there have really marked a lot of fond memories!

    I loved the layout of Victoria memorial and admired its statues and how realistic they looked! I remember seeing decked-up horses and chariots which took tourists around the city for 100 rs! The KC Das sweets, the Kali murtis , everything so nice …

    Photos on this post took me down the memory lane, and for good! Thanks for the beautiful story.. Enjoyed reading it :)

    Cheers.

    • Thank you Archana.
      It is one of my favourite monuments too and I do have lots of memories of this historical place. From your comments I can imagine how much you had enjoyed your visit to the place.

      I just thought to write a full post on this to create interest about the place, which may not be possible with just a few pictures.

      I will try to cover KC Das and Maa Kali Temple in my next or last post…

      Thank you,

  • abheeruchi says:

    Hi,
    Wonderful post with such a beautiful pictures.
    Finally today i am able to read ghumakkar stories.so starting ur series from latest to first.As regards to Kolkata it is one of my favourite city and i m happy that i stayed there.
    These posts will refresh all my kolkata memories.
    Thanks.

    • Thank you Abhee,
      I am sure you will love to read some of the posts in this series and will bring back sweet memories of your days in the city.

      Time is also a big constraint for me in last week and I did miss some of the posts, as well as slightly occupied to write these as well. ‘ll need to take out some time to read your Canada stories.

      Keep writing.

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Amitava,

    Victoria Memorial is indeed beautiful!

    Next time I will definitely take out two hours to go inside. That is a heavy angel statue on the top. You mean to say it still revolves with the wind?

    More Kolkata surprises coming out. Nice Photos too.

    • Thank you Nirdesh for your continuous encouragement.

      The statue is about five meters tall, weighs ~4,500 kg (4.5 Metric Tonnes; Copper on Iron Statue) set on a huge basin of mercury. The mercury keeps the angel in a state of floatation. The angel carries a flute and the entire statue is a wind-vane which shows the wind direction. It was a common sight, still many people will remember.

      As far as my memory goes, it had stopped revolving sometime in 2004-2005 or before. There ware many attempts to make it functional over the last few years, even Environment activist Subhas Datta, filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Calcutta High Court regarding this…and some British Engineering Firms were also engaged as well to fix the problem. However, most probably, the angel is still not revolving now.

      I didn’t have a clear picture of the Angel, may be I am in a need to have a 75-300 mm Lens to get a good picture. Whenever you go there next, try to capture the ‘Pari’ or the ‘Angel’.

      It’s really a wonderful place.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    The Sound-n-Light show is greatly recommended. We throughly enjoyed it but we were such lazy people that we missed Victoria. We were in time but were told that it is now closed. When we tried to argue since it was still 30 minute to close, the guy told us that this is what it is, give or take. It was not the best of front-gate experiences so to make up for it, we hung around and decided to wait for the SnL show and it was fabulous.

    That whole area is pretty good to hang-out. I wish to be there again, many times. Thanks for showing me around and refreshing our memories, Amitava.

  • Amitava Chatterjee says:

    Yes, it is a must see thing in Kolkata as well. Unfortunately, it was raining so heavily on both the days when we went there, we couldn’t see the show…I saw the show sometime in 2007 and wish to be there once again. So, you missed the memorial…it’s really unfortunate to come across such people.

    This is actually a favourite spot for everyone in the city. I also wish you to go to Kolkata not just once but many times and see some of these places, including a nice time at Victoria Memorial….there are lot more to cover…good to know that we already have few authors in queue to showcase the city and bring it to all of us…I will also try at the best of my ability whenever possible…

    feeling good that you liked the post. Thank you

  • Murshed Ahmed says:

    CALCUTTA 2000 VISIT

    There are 15 million people in Calcutta, and they all seemed to be in my train carriage when I took the underground there recently. Often neglected by visitors coming to India, too afraid to brave it’s chaos, poverty and pollution, Calcutta is the kind of place that will tattoo itself to the inside of your eyeballs, and stay in your sub-conscious forever. Calcutta, a city long neglected by Western journalists except for its poverty and sorrow.

    I was born in Calcutta- Ballygunj to be exact. Now I live in Rio de Jjaneiro whose favelas reminds me of Calcutta of the 1950s when I left my hometown. From the mad passion of Carnaval to the immensity of the dark Amazon, Brazil is a country of mythic proportions. All the while, the people of Brazil delight visitors with their energy, fantasy and joy. Rio is the Cidade Maravilhosa. Jammed into the world’s most beautiful setting – between ocean and escarpment – are seven million Cariocas, as Rio’s inhabitants are called. The Cariocas pursue pleasure like no other people: beaches and the body beautiful; samba and beer; soccer and the local firewater, cachaa. Calcutta has its own pleasures, cricket and football madness.

    Once the epicenter of the British Empire in Asia, Calcutta has a jaw- dropping architectural heritage. Crumbling colonial buildings gather moss and squatters, in a state of collapse amongst the millions who scratch out what appears to be a miserable existence on its pavements.
    Men pulling rickshaws clatter over Victorian cobble stoned streets. Battered trams fight for an inch of space amongst the congested streets, surrounded by decaying Georgian architecture reminiscent of South Kensington and Bloomsbury. Calcutta may be only three hundred years old, but it could be three thousand… it has the appearance of a city that has been hit by catastrophe, with life teeming amongst its ruins.

    The smells of pollution, open fires, cooking, exotic spices, decaying organic matter, stale urine and fragrant incense, waft through appallingly congested colonial avenues and streets. Waterloo Street, Harrison Road, Elgin Road, Curzon Street, Calcutta may no longer look like London, but it still sounds like it.

    Calcutta is not a place for the feint-hearted. It is an assault on the senses, compassionate, contemptible, awesome and frightening at times, yet undiscovered gems hide behind every street corner. Take a deep breath and enjoy.

    Loved the photos and excellent commentaries.
    Mo Ahmed

    • Hi Thank you for reading, liking the post and leaving your remarks.

      I have never been to Rio, though I would have to love to be there next year…to see Football World Cup…how I wish my dream to come true…so, how is the mood in Brazil…people are not in favour of the WC…as there were huge protests during Confederation Cup

      There is a lot to debate to prove me correct here but…

      Do come & visit the city once again and may be you will start liking the place once again…and I think, you still like the city and your comments just reflect that you are still in love…

      It would have been better to meet you in Rio next year….but I am still not able to save that money…

      Thank you,

  • Murshed Ahmed says:

    Hi Amitava,
    I love your story site. If you want I can contribute 1,000 words flash fictions based on modern cities, people, and places around the world – Rome, Delhi, Rio, Paris, Glasgow, Kabul, Leptis Magna (lost Roman city in the Sahara, Libya), Salar de Atacama (Nothern Chile), Nakon Phanom (Thailand), Cairo, Lagos, Athens etc. etc. Flash fiction is brief – 500 to 1,000 words, has an explosive beginning, two or three characters, a love triangle (maybe) conflicts and a flash bang end – and yes – it has a plot! A “choto kahini” and not a plot-free Bollywood movie script.
    It might liven up your site in “Indian English”, “English English” “Babu English”, “Caribbean English”, “Canadian English”, “American English”, “West African English”, “Asian English” and so on. It may expand the lterary horizon of your readers.

    Regards,
    Mo

    Mo Ahmed

  • murshed alam ahmed says:

    FIRPOS AND FERAZINIS OF CALCUTTA

    Kolkata in the 1930s and 1940s was a different place.

    The Golden 1930s was indeed the golden age of Calcutta. It was the Second City, after London, of the British Empire. Even the nascent air travel industry could not ignore Calcutta. Imperial Airways’ service linked Calcutta to London, while it was an important stop on the Air France Paris to Saigon and Royal Dutch Airlines Amsterdam to Batavia services. The city knew no shortages. The streets glowed in its electric lights. Trams and motorbuses plied the streets and motorcars were beginning to outnumber horse-drawn coaches.

    Theater, cinema and fine dining defined Calcutta’s social life. Great Eastern, Spence’s and the newer Grand and Continental were the finest hotels in the continent. The shops of New Market and stores like the Army and Navy and Whiteway, Laidlaw and Co. did brisk business, and Firpos, Ferazzinis, Marchettis, Pelitis, Trocadero, Bristol Grill, Grand Caf, Empire and Maxim’s served the finest in French and Italian foods on their tables. Smart young Italian Matres d’Htel, looking like latter day Rudolph Valentinos, were tripping over themselves to serve the most sumptuous and costly dishes.

    The stiff upper-lipped British aristocracy that established the tradition of dining and the French, Italian and Swiss chefs, patisseries and restaurateurs that arrived to give shape to what the British aristocracy dreamt of as Calcutta’s standards entertaining may have disappeared with their European patrons.

    Firpos advertisement in London Times said: Caterers by Appointment to His Excellency Lord Irwin, Viceroy and Governor General of India, HRH The Prince of Wales, HRH The Duke of Connaught, with impressive Coats of Arms. It announced Perfect Cuisine with Renowned Italian and London Orchestras. It showed a picture of the ornate Louis XVI Restaurant and the World Famous chrome, glass and pink marble Venetian Bar. It claimed that the dance floor was specially sprung. It also showed four Gold Medal Awards won in London, Manchester, Rome and Paris Exhibitions.

    Firpos Italian Restaurant opened in 1920 and had earned a solid reputation for the quality of its food as well as for its social events. Firpos offers excellent dinner dances, cocktail dances, cabaret performances and classical concerts, said The London Times.
    Celebrated kitchens and cellars, and delightful dinner concerts on Thursday and Sunday, said LIndochine Moderne from distant Saigon. The cuisine is what you would expect in a large French town, wrote British visitor Alfred Cunningham approvingly, and according to custom a bottle of white or red wine, and liqueur, is free at both meals, tiffin and dinner. A lunch of Minestrone Soup, Chicken Vol au Vent and Italian Gelato topped with Chocolate Sauce and a wafer of Biscotti was served for princely sum of one Rupee and eight Annas.

    Enter Firpos and you can see the Viceroy and Governor General of Indias palace, now known as the Government House, together with an ochre, green-shuttered colonial leftover housing Writers Building. An adjacent window overlooks a massive park, which can be seen in pictures dating back to the 1800s.

    The room is spacious and the tables well-positioned below large overhead fans, if it were not dark, the large windows would afford a good view of the imposing Victoria Memorial across the green space known as The Maidan. The restaurant, decorated with antique cabinets, crystal chandeliers and marble, served a rich haute cuisine of imported ingredients. At the bottom of the sprawling front steps, a chauffeur in a peaked cap spent his days polishing a 1930s Packard to a depthless shine.

    Calcutta high society in the 1920s emerged for the first time from private houses to play in public or at least in hotels, clubs and restaurants and after the horrors of the First World War it did so with a defiant exuberance. This was the era of the cocktail, and nights were for dancing until dawn. The dress was indisputably Black tie; life was high for hedonists and the decadence was neatly encapsulated by the songs of Cole Porter such as: I get no kicks from champagne.

    Firpos was, by all accounts, an outstanding success for a variety of reasons. There was the personality of Angelo Firpo himself, described as a short plump man, immaculately turned out with an attractive frog-like face. His younger brother Ernesto, the headwaiter, was younger, taller and very good-looking. Both applied their charm to maximum effect, but it was Angelo who became known as the perfect greeter.

    It was said that no female visitor could fail to be impressed by the gracious way in which Angelo would present her with a flower as if she was the only person ever to have been so favored. The epitome of the suave host, he flattered his regulars by name but was neither overly familiar nor obsequious, contriving that fine line between due deference and professional courtesy that proved irresistible. How marvelous to see you, he would say as if he really meant it. A favorite line as he seated somebody was: Why dont you sit over there? You know you are my best customer. I do not let anyone else have this table. Even if the Lieutenant Governor came in, he would have to sit somewhere else.

    In those days a good Matres d’Htel knew all the scandal and the gossip. It would have been disastrous to put a recently divorced couple at adjacent tables, or a budding romance next to a noisy party. Angelo knew when love was blooming and he also sensed very perceptively when it was waning. A special dish, a glass of brandy, or a liqueur on the house would often salvage a marriage drifting near the rocks.

    And, of course, there was the food. At a time when it was considered bad manners to discuss what one ate, Firpos food was noticed and talked about. He introduced hot hors doeuvres and a menu, which in todays terms we have learned to call eclectic. Here were culinary innovations aplenty. It had a few Italian pasta and Indian curry items.

    Typically its menus were in French and not without their amusing moments, offering such geographical non-sequiturs: Hors dOeuvres Varies, Canaps au Saumon Fum, Pat de Foie Gras, Potage Saint Germain, Tranches de Poisson Meuniere, Homard Thermidor, Noisettes de Mouton Chaufroid, Chapon Roti Boucherre, Curry au Riz, Saltimbocca alla Romana, Gelato Limone, Gateau Millefeuilles, Parfait Praline, Dessert, Caf ou Th.

    At the Firpos Art Deco long Venetian Bar a “sundowner” was far more than a decently refreshing mixed drink taken at the end of the day. It was a welcome ritual that marks the passage from day to night, combined with a no-nonsense approach to imbibing. The term sounds British, and it was. Back when world maps showed the British Empire girdling the globe, all those hardworking British Raj Burra Sahib types in pith helmets needed something to unwind with after a hard day of quelling rebel tribes near Khyber Pass and playing polo.

    The Venetian Bar sundowner had been an unfussy drink for decades. It’s true that in British Raj days, when gentlemen sat around in white linen suits underneath ceiling fans in tropical bars, a sundowner might be a very elaborate drink indeed – but, back then, the bartender in those places wore white jackets and black bow ties and there was always someone wearing turban and rich livery to bring your drink out to the verandah, while you sat in a very large rattan chair and smoked a very long cheroot.

    Cocktails, too, speak with a local accent not all of them, but enough of them to make the shrewd traveler think twice before reflexively ordering a generic gin and tonic. British Raj has vanished, but the parched traveler in Calcutta was allowed to conjure up one Merchant-Ivory moment by ordering a Pimm’s cup, stirred with a slice of cucumber, or a Somerset Maugham moment drinking a Singapore Sling at Calcuttas Great Eastern Hotel. And breathes there a man with a soul so dead that he would not order a sidecar at Venetian Bar in Calcutta?

    But the one item that best defined the 1920s Calcutta was the Martini. No sophisticate in Calcutta would dare to be seen without a new fangled Martini nonchalantly cupped in one hand and a gold tipped Davidoff cigarette cocked in the other. The origin of Martini remains unknown. Experts name several sources of pedigree, all of them happy to claim credit most definitely Italian. Regardless of its heritage, whats special about the shimmering, silver Martini is its smooth elegance.

    No other cocktail has incited such passion or ire when it comes to the proper way to make one. Some, like genetically cool British Secret Service Agent 007 James Bond, say it should be served shaken not stirred so as to not to bruise the gin. Quintessentially British author Somerset Maugham insisted that martinis should be stirred, not shaken, so that the tiny molecules lie sensuously on top of one another.

    Either way, the best Martini in Firpos Venetian bar was always served ice cold from an ice-box. After a day at the races at the Royal Calcutta Turf Club it was the perfect accessory for the slender Flapper Emily and the pomaded sleek Dapper David the full figured ideal for the previous decades, disappeared, never to return.

    In the 1920s Flappers were easy to spot at Firpos. They were the only grown women with short skirts and bobbed hair. They dared to smoke cigarettes and drink cocktails. They turned down their hose, powdered their knees and painted their lips bright red. They hung out in the Venetian Bar where they danced the Tango, the Black Bottom and the biggest dance craze of all the Charleston with bare arms and legs flying.

    Italian weddings were a special event at Firpos. This lengthy celebration began with a mass in the morning, and the dancing and feasting after the wedding ceremony. Sometimes it continued well into the early morning hours of the next day. Italian weddings have always emphasized food. Strongly linked with family life, food was the focal point of the festivities. A multi-course dinner followed, often as many as 14 different courses! A band providing dance music for the wedding guests played waltzes, mazzurcas and tarantellas. Songs like Notturno dAmore, Torna a Surriento and Voglio Tanto Bene were sung by the Italian orchestra.

    Venetian Bar, hidden on the top floor of Firpos Restaurant was the place for action. Dinner-jacketed men and painted ladies in backless gowns graced its tables. Ladies with plucked eyebrow, scarlet tipped fingers exchanged their cigarette holders for puffs of gold-tipped Turkish cigarettes and laughed at the way the sugar licked their sweet little crimson lips. Russian refugees flocked there looking for quicker routes to South America. There were impoverished European princes destined to end their days as waiters and pretty countesses who propped up the walls at tea dances, hoping that someone would scrape them off the silk lined floral wallpapers and take them home.

    Here you see the wives of French officials, and a few brilliant and seductively gowned Congais or Eurasians in the arms of men who are generally not their husbands. It is all very gay and on Saturday nights, when dancing lasts until 2 oclock, it even partakes of a breathless abandon, wrote Edgar Snow in a 1931 article in the New York Sun which also included reportage on the darker side of colonial life, opium addiction.

    At Firpos there was a resident Italian orchestra, and the Jazz orchestra was Teddy Hungerford’s. Teddy Hungerford was a pianist and had a tremendous jazz persona. In addition to having a tremendous jazz persona he was exactly like Fats Waller. And when the war ended, if he had lived, he would have come back here, and he would have become a tremendous success. But unfortunately, cholera got him.

    The British captains and kings departed India in 1947 and Firpos closed it doors on Calcutta in 1960.

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Murshed,

    This is awesome stuff. It seems like you are giving words to a Martin Scorcese movie set in the 1930s.

    Just one question – who are you man!?

    Now all you need to do is to send some photos and get your posts published here.

    The editors will help you.

  • WoW! ‘m agreed with Nirdesh. Just loved it.
    Do send your write-ups to the editor(s); email your post at info@ghumakkar.com

  • Saurabh Gupta says:

    Again a good post Amitva Ji.

    I am too late in comment but jab jaago tabhi savera……… really a great information we are getting of Bengal……. I have read the Chennai Diaries written by Abhiruchee and now this one on Bengal….. It’s really a good information in a series. This type of series help everyone to know about the culture/history/information/everything for other places where everyone is not able to go……

    thanks for sharing………

    • Amitava Chatterjee says:

      Thank you Saurabh.
      We all are racing against time…and very well know how difficult to even squeeze a little bit of time inbetween…

      It is not very far – just in another metro city in India – hope someday, you will visit these places too.

  • Dear All,

    I’m a nephew of Angelo Firpo and I’m trying to find ” Firpos advertisement in London Times said: Caterers by Appointment to His Excellency Lord Irwin, Viceroy and Governor General of India, HRH The Prince of Wales, HRH The Duke of Connaught, with impressive Coats of Arms”, which Mr Murshed Alam Ahmed spoke in his story about my uncle. If it’s possible can I have a copy of this advertisement by email (saconsul.ge@gmail.com)? Thank you. Enrico De Barbieri

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