We’re extremely happy to keep you up to date with our journalism intern, Emma, who has just completed a one month journalism Pave internship in Calcutta! Read about her amazing experience below!
It is coming to the end of my month internship at the newspaper; to me it has flown by quicker than a lightning rod. Except for my first week of the classic ‘Delhi belly’ sickness (word of warning: Imodium is not always the best way forward); I have enjoyed my time here immensely. At work, there was not a day where I did not have an article to write, each of which were incredible fun to write. This is a busy season for the newspaper so I was kept busy with a lot of assignments. I have mostly been writing about food, films, books and fashion… but mostly about the food. Not that I was complaining! Bengali food (especially the street food) is one of the best cuisines in India; I seemed to have exhausted my adjectives for delicious and tasty.
Each assignment was a journey into a new area of this diverse city. There is the affluent Salt Lake area where I was presented food at some of the grandest hotels; or visited art galleries tucked away in a maze of crowded and narrow streets. It must be noted that the architecture of Calcutta is especially enchanting: there is a seamless blend between art deco curved stone buildings, run down but decorative Spanish inspired nineteenth century town houses; imperial colonial grand office buildings and rows of cardboard huts where the poorer live. This eclectic architectural mix lends Kolkata a very distinct ambience: an atmosphere of sophistication and heart-aching realism. A friend described the city of having an ‘imperfect beauty’. I couldn’t agree more.
I was lucky enough to be in the city the day that Mother Theresa was canonised. That evening I witnessed most of the city out on the streets celebrating, no matter what their religious orientation. She had become a cultural icon of the city and it was an amazing moment for Calcutta to be celebrated through this incredible woman. Thanks to the myriad of Hindu gods, every day in India seems to be a holy day. A strange favourite of mine was the day of worship for the mechanical god; this was especially entertaining as taxi drivers adorned their taxis with massive palm leaves as they zoomed around the city. The beginning of October is the Durga Puja festival – the biggest Hindu festival of the year, and during its lead up I observed the city metamorphosing, as an army of young artists and architects constructed huge wooden structures (the soon to be the pandals) and colourful idols for the festival. I am so gutted that I will miss it by 3 days! It’s meant to be a week of vibrant colours, chanting and celebration.
These are examples of how much Kolkata as a city has to offer. Compared to Dehli, Kolkata is much less intimidating. The people are engaging and kind. For example, on my first day I got lost finding my apartment, and one auto driver drove me around the area until I found my apartment… for free! This went against all my preconceptions of Indian money hustling characters. It’s not the case that I got lucky; if you ask anybody on the street for directions, they will always strive to point you in the direction. The people from Kolkata I have met I found to be wise, caring and fun!
Park Street is the equivalent of Oxford Street in London and at night becomes a buzzing hub of clubs and bars. Dispel your ideas of Kolkata nightlife as a dancehall of Bollywood, side trance or eurotrash pop. I was delighted to find out that this city was undergoing a renaissance of techno music. Clubs such as the Underground, and Black Lounge have become patrons of this new wave of club music. It’s a young and exciting time for music in Kolkata!
This has been an unforgettable experience for me. Not only have I gained some invaluable journalism experience; I have had the chance to discover a new city and meet some brilliant people.