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A ‘Tolly’ good evening in Kolkata

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As I sat in the Tollygunge Club in Kolkata, hearing Bengali, munching on fried fish with kashundi (mustard sauce), sipping my ‘rum pani‘ (Old Monk, of course), I felt so much at home.

There I was with an old friend and his partner, my partner and his old friends – who just so happened to know each other.

It is a small world like that.


My partner was in Kolkata to perform in a play.

I was in Kolkata to meet with my client and conduct focus group discussions with their team.

It wasn’t an accident we were in Kolkata at the same time. One commitment sparked another and thankfully nothing got in the way.

So that Sunday evening, we came out after the play to meet our friends, enjoying the slight nip in the air…

I could not have been happier.

For me, Bengali is one of those languages that I do not speak but I was immersed in enough consider it a familiar friend. It is the sound of one of my many past homes… the home where I lived in the 90s as a student in Chittaranjan Park, Delhi.

And Bengali food is something that once upon a time was what would constitute a regular home cooked meal.

The setting? A piece of history.

While the Tollygunge club was officially founded in 1895, the Club House was built even earlier and is now over 220 years old. What was once home to Tipu Sultan’s son and a member of the East India Company now is where our friends come out to enjoy their day or night.

Rather than be a stuffy relic, ‘Tolly’ is where families and friends go to entertain and be entertained, relax and re-invigorate…

It is a nice reminder that things do change… yet also retain elements of days gone by.

It was also a time to reflect…

Looking at a friend I’ve known for more than 20 years, it was clear that I’m not the same person I was back in early 1995 when we first met.

However I would not be the person I am today without all the ups and downs, rights and lefts that occurred in between.

So though Bengal is no longer a core element of my everyday today in a way that it was living in a Bengali home in a Bengali colony, hearing Bengali, eating Bong khanna, listening to Bengali music… these experiences are all intrinsically part of me, not just my past but indelibly part of who I will always be.

And for that I am thankful. It was indeed a ‘Tolly’ good evening!


Me with my friend’s partner

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  1. Karolyn Cooper says:

    Lovely post. Evenings like that are precious, and it’s important to appreciate them.

  2. What a great post. This makes me wonder where I could feel something similar when meeting with old friends. Right now I can’t think of anyplace giving me such feeling but then again I must probably still discover it 🙂

  3. mmarinaa says:

    I remember when I was India, there were people having a picnic next to a mosque that was like a billion years old. Historic places were just beautiful backdrops to every day life. It was great.

  4. fareasterner says:

    Missing Calcutta. Her chaos & vitality, early morning trip to Hooghly flower market for photo shots & amazing smells

  5. Saikat Das says:

    Who is that framed behind the decanter/tumbler Is it Mohd. Ali Jinnah :)))

  6. Sounds like u having a great evening to remember, Kolkata is always the most lively city … and What could be better than a reunion of old friends at the city of joy … have a great time..

  7. A beautiful article this. Can totally relate growing up in Calcutta and Chittaranjan Park.

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