Memory’s Gold  -  Writings on Calcutta

Memory’s Gold - Writings on Calcutta

Product ID: 31086

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Author: Amit Chaudhuri
Publisher: Penguin/Viking
Year: 2008
Language: English
Pages: 538
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9780670082520


Kipling s city of dreadful night , the nightmare experience of Jawaharlal Nehru, heroine of a hundred thousand loves , a pestilential behemoth Calcutta provokes extreme reactions in almost everyone who has encountered the city.

Despite having probably the filthiest climate on earth , described by Mark Twain as enough to make a doorknob mushy , despite the doomsday predictions about it being a dying city , Calcutta throbs with a life and a vitality all its own, drawing people from all walks of life to engage with it.

This anthology brings together essays, stories, poems and memoirs of people who have shared an ardent relationship with Calcutta. From Henry Meredith Parker’s early nineteenth-century vignettes of life in the city to Ulrike Draesner’s overwrought images at the turn of the new millennium, from Tagore’s elegiac reminiscences of his childhood home to Sandipan Chattopadhyay’s hallucinogenic depictions of nights spent on the footpath, Memory’s Gold celebrates the coexistence of the sacrosanct and the blasphemous, so characteristic of Calcutta itself.

This sumptuous collection, edited and meticulously put together by Amit Chaudhuri, one of India’s foremost novelists and writers, addresses almost all aspects of life in the metropolis. While Michael Madhusudan Dutt’s letter talks about the city’s extraordinary literary acumen—a shopkeeper who reads the Meghnadvad Kabya and engages the poet in a discussion on blank verse—Nirad Chaudhuri’s account introduces us to the ‘natives’ and mansions of Calcutta. Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay’s realistic ‘Canvasser Krishnalal’, dealing with an occupation typical to Calcutta, offers a striking contrast to Utpalkumar Basu’s surreal take on office culture in the magical city.

Buddhadeva Bose’s classic treatise on that quintessential Calcuttan contribution to high culture, the adda, the essays on Durga Puja—when the city resembles an unreal pageant—and Moti Nandi’s piece on football, provide glimpses of the many passions that rule the city.

Essays by Günter Grass and V.S. Naipaul, the chronicles of the Krittibas generation of poets and writers—Sunil Gangopadhyay and Shakti Chattopadhyay, among others—Sasthi Brata’s loving ode to College Street and the Coffee House and Jug Suraiya’s equally nostalgic take on Park Street, bring to the fore various perspectives on the city—the visitor’s, the inhabitant’s and the exile’s—all of which celebrate Calcutta with as much gusto as the fervour with which they often despair of it.


“Whatever is Deposited as Memory’s Gold, Whatever gives Meaning to the Past, Friendship, love, struggles, the joy of keen toil, my work vocation, my life – all, all I have had because I had you, Calcutta.”
--- Buddhadeva Bose



Part I – Arrivals, Discoveries

1. Chateaux en Espagne – Henry Meredith Parker
2. Young India – A Bengal Eclogue: Henry Meredith Parker
3. A Few Lines in Honour of the late Mr Simms, Senior Assistant to Messrs. Sheringham, Leith, Badgery, and Hay – Henry Meredith Parker
4. From Hootum Pyanchar Naksha (Sketches by Hootum) – Kaliprasanna Singha
5. The Dark Girl – Rabindranath Tagore
6. Green Mangoes – Rabindranath Tagore
7. My Childhood – Rabindranath Tagore
8. From Silverfish – Saikat Majumdar
9. Letter – Michael Madhusudan Dutt

Part II – Exile, Domicile

10. Spring: Variation on a Theme – Chitralekha Basu
11. In the Shade of Freedom: A Post-Chapter – Alka Saraogi
12. From The Shadow Lines – Amitav Ghosh
13. Night – Jibanananda Das
14. From Malyaban – Jibanananda Das
15. From Freedom Song – Amit Chaudhuri
16. Flute – Music – Rabindranath Tagore
17. Growing Up Refugee – Manas Ray
18. From The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian - Nirad C. Chaudhuri
19. ‘It’s Not A Very Happy Time, Note A Very Joyful Time’ – Shakti Chattopadhyay
20. My Father’s Tongue – Ruchir Joshi
21. Family Photograph – From Sibaji Bandyopadhyay’s Private Collection
22. A Place Called Calcutta… - Shaheen Akhtar
23. From If you Are Afraid of Heights – Raj Kamal Jha
24. Neera, Don’t Get Lost – Sunil Gangopadhyay
25. Coming Home – Sandipan Chattopadhyay

Part III – Flanerie

26. Durga – Daughter, Durga – Ma: Anita Roy
27. Adda – Buddhadeva Bose
28. Kalighat Revisited – Amit Chaudhuri
29. From Tithidore – Buddhadeva Bose
30. The Heterotopia of Puja’s Calcutta – Pradip Kumar Bose

Part IV – Manifestoes

31. I Want You – Kabir Suman
32. Calcutta – Buddhadeva Bose
33. Fifth Column – Samar Sen
34. Composed While Drunk – Saratkumar Mukhopadhyay

Part V – Visitors

35. An Anthropologist Among the Marxists – Ramachandra Guha
36. A Day in Calcutta – Matthew Sweeney
37. Across the Howrah Bridge – Tom Paulin
38. Chinese Opium ‘Den’ – Allen Ginsberg
39. Portrait of A Legend: Belal Choudhury – Kaiser Haq
40. Beyond Translation – Amit Chaudhuri
41. Hey, Man, Calm Down ! – Ulrike Draesner
42. Jamshed into Jimmy – V.S. Naipaul
43. On the North Side of Calcutta – Gunter Grass
44. Of Open Minds and Living Cultures: Reflections on Gunter Grass’s Two Visits to Calcutta – An Interview of P. Lal

Part VI – Forms of Employment

45. Beggar – Jibanananda Das
46. From Striker – Moti Nandi
47. Canvasser Krishnalal – Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay
48. From Journal Shottor (Seventies’ Journal) – Raghab Bandyopadhyay
49. Shri Shri Siddheshwari Limited – Rajshekher Basu
50. From The Barn Owl’s Wondrous Capers – Sarnath Banerjee
51. Baburam Advertising Services – Utpalkumar Basu

Part VII – Memory

52. The World’s Cities: Calcutta – Sudhin Datta
53. From My Gold Died Young – Sasthi Brata
54. Down Memory Street – Jug Suraiya
55. Disappearances – Sunetra Gupta

Notes on Translators
Copyright Acknowledgements