Accordion with Google Translate, Read Aloud, and Location Matching

Welcome to the magic hour tour! My name is Soham and I'll be your host for today. We will be entering certain busy spaces on the tour and before we do that, I will give you a heads up. Please feel free to let me know if you're not comfortable at any point. I carry a sanitiser and a mosquito repellent so feel free to ask for that as well. I carry my camera with me and I keep taking pictures on the tour and send them back to you as little memories from the tour but only if you like that. Please let me know if you do not want pictures and I will make sure that I don't take pictures of you. To start off the tour, the magic hour tour starts off when the magic hours of the city start and the sun is not yet up and the city street lights start going off. to give you a little historical overview of the city. Calcutta officially started around the 1750s when the British East India company came down as one of the last Europeans to come from Europe to trade in India, they settled down in different parts of India by taking permissions from the Islamic kings to start trading. In Calcutta they buy three small villages for the sum of 1300 rupees and consolidate the city into the city of Calcutta We know of today. each part of this city is designated for particular purposes. The central part is designated for corporate and trading purposes whereas the northern part of the city is designated as a part where Indians can buy land and create single family homes. We are in the central part of the city. Let me walk you to a particular part where we can see the city centre a little better and I will explain further there.

This is the technical centre of the city. It is known as Esplanade. If you look at the Esplanade meaning in the dictionary it means a square piece of land where you can walk by the river, a viewing promenade for the riverfront. This place is still called the Esplanade but the river has moved away so you cannot see the river directly from here. The city centre was used more as a corporate section where the British built massive colonial structures, hiring European architects and replicating buildings from Europe . Buildings that look like the building just behind us. You could say that these buildings belong to Victorian or classical Victorian architecture built around the early 1800s to mid 1900s and they were all started as corporate entities for trade. This building behind us started as one of the first departmental stores of Asia. Even today it houses different corporate entities. if we walk towards the north from where we are standing. We would enter an area which is filled with these massive colonial Victorian buildings which were built either for corporate purposes or administrative purposes. They are currently known as the government area of the Indian and the West Bengal government. if we keep walking towards the south from that particular area we reach Esplanade where we are at the moment and where we can see the river from. if we keep walking south From here we reach park Street, where all the fancy restaurants, pubs places to eat and hang out Were created even back in the day. From around Esplanade Central to park Street is where all the British officers had their homes and apartments. This particular part of town was very well planned. You work hard. Take a walk by the river. Grab a nice dinner and get back home. This part of town was known as white Town. The part of the city where the Indians were allowed to buy lands and create homes was known as black-town. But today's tour is not going to be about black-town or white-town. It is going to be about Calcutta today. And even in today's Calcutta, there are things that you get to see that you do not get to see in any other city of the world. So I would like to point out a few things that we see much clearly from the city centre. Odd jobs jobs, that are clearly very odd but they're very prominent in Calcutta. If you see behind us, there will be men crossing the street with two buckets hanging from a stick on their shoulder. their entire day's Job is to fill those buckets up with water and deliver them to shops that do not have a direct legal water supply. like a little street vendor who's selling bread and eggs. For this job the man gets a subscribed amount of money for making sure the vendor has water and this is his entire day's job. I call them the water men of Calcutta. That's our first odd job of the day and as we go on with the tour I will point out other such odd jobs. Another aspect of the city that we visibly see here is the architecture. Most of the architecture that you notice in Calcutta will be from the Victorian era from the 1800s, but there was another form of architecture that took the world by a storm around the 1900s. It was known as art Deco everywhere you go in the world, you have art deco. It reached Calcutta around the 1940s. One of the first buildings that came up as an art deco building was a movie theatre built by MGM production house from the US. Their aim was to promote Hollywood movies in India. Once the building came up, everybody in Calcutta started catching hold of their architects and asking them to make a building that looked like this movie theatre. So architects started building art deco buildings even before understanding the principles of art deco, thus modern day architects don't refer to them as art Deco but more like they Desi deco an influenced art deco form. The first building that came up in that style was the metro cinema hall where we met. The reason why we meet at Metro cinema hall is because it is one of the oldest navigational points of the city. People would just tell each other : "Let's meet at the Metro" and then they'll take it from there. The Metro cinema hall is a generational movie theatre. My grandparents have gone on dates there. My parents have gone on dates there. I've gone on dates there, so it's in the bloodline of the city but 15 years back it got sold out and everything inside was demolished to create a mall. The people of Calcutta were so fond of the memory of the metro cinema hall that they quietly cancelled the mall and stopped going to it. The mall company was forced to bring back a movie theatre to make business and that's the story of how Calcutta holds on to art and culture and brings back a movie theatre from the dead.

The magic hour tour is a lot about blending in and becoming a local. And locals in Calcutta before doing anything else. Have a hot cup of Cha. My father has a rule book to understand if you're in Calcutta, rule #1 says that if you are in Calcutta and you do not find a tea shop every 100 m you're not in Calcutta. even if you find a tea shop and the tea shop gives you tea in anything other than a clay cup then you're still not in Calcutta. this tea being served in these clay cups is the most quintessential thing of the city. Locals believe that this changes the taste of the tea. These cups are handmade cups made from clay and just a one-time use. They are 80%, biodegradable and 20% stays back as brick dust. They are un-glazed from the inside keeping the inside surface porous. So when you pour something hot into it, it cools down very fast. But because it is porous, food particles go inside the clay structure which you cannot cleaned Hygienically for a second time use. Hence they are used just once. When you ask a local in Calcutta, what is the common breakfast? The most common answer would be bread, butter, omelette, poached, eggs, things that are very British in nature. This is because the British started bakeries in Calcutta and pushed them on the people and since then it has become quite a usual thing to have in the city. As a little example, we are having some typical cookies from local bakeries of Calcutta.

The magic hour tour is a walking tour, but a lot of the magic of Calcutta is hidden in the different modes of transport that it offers. on the tour. We will try to take as many transport modes as possible. Our first mode of transport is the iconic yellow taxi. These are India's first manufactured car. They were started around the 1940s when a British car model the motors Oxford was made and built by an Indian company and released in India as the ambassador cars. Throughout the years they became extremely popular in India and when you have popular cars in India, what do you do? You make them into taxis. So every city you went to would find them as the official taxis. But slowly and surely all the other cities moved on from having the ambassador as their taxis to other modern cars. But Calcutta loves holding on to the past. Loves living in nostalgia. Hence, the ambassador cars are still the official yellow taxis of the city that brings me to the second rule from my father's rule book : If you do not see a yellow taxi, you're not in Calcutta. But there is a sad end to this story. The company that manufactured these cars stopped manufacturing in 2013 and the government has a mandate that any car being used Commercially can only be used for 15 years, not more. So 2027 might be the last year that we see these taxis on the streets of the city. So we have to enjoy them while we can.

India has multiple languages that it speaks. There is not one particular language that is known as the national language, but there are different accepted official languages. If you ever pull out a currency note from India and flip it over, you will find all the languages that are officially accepted by the Indian law. It is very difficult to find common words in all these different languages, but there are some words that mean the same thing. One such word is the word maidan. It means green lush field in almost all different languages. The story of the maidan goes back to around 1756 when the British first came here. As the last Europeans to start trading, they took the permission from the Mughal Islamic kings who were established in Indian and started setting up factories and fortresses. In Bengal they got the permission to set up a factory and a fortress but they never got the permission to start an army. But they secretly create and started maintaining an army . With this army they started looting and pillaging villages nearby. When the king of Bengal (known as Nawabs in the Mughal court) found out that a corporate company who had taken permission to start trading were looting villages under his watch, that enraged him and with a massive army, He attacked this little town of Calcutta . Within a few hours the British were defeated, some escaped but some were captured inside the fortress. The king went in and declared that he's too tired from war and that He's going to go in and sleep in his new found English quarters in this new fortress. He ordered his army to lock all these English prisoners up and that tomorrow morning he will interrogate them about the treasures that they have amassed or they have hidden. The problem with this order was that there was no holding cell or prison cell in this fortress. It was never meant for war so 130 British officers were stuffed inside a room which was just 18 ft cube. What turned out to be one of the hottest nights of the year in the morning, only 30 of them came out alive out of 130 officers. When this news trickled out to the west it got termed as the black hole of Calcutta. This started being used as propaganda, Fuel for vengeance by the British in Europe and with that in place they formed a massive army down at Madras or Chennai which was their stronghold around the 1750s and they hired a man to lead this army who later on turns on to be the biggest mercenary of British India. Robert Clive. under his leadership they marched and sailed all the way to attack this little town of Calcutta which was under the Islamic rule At this point. within a few days they go on to recapture Calcutta, they go on to kill the last king of Bengal. They go on to attack all the other European towns around Calcutta the Portuguese, the Danes, the Dutch, the French and they became quite a formidable power in Bengal and could finally challenge the Delhi sultanate which was already in a decline at this point. very surely in the coming few years, The British engulfed the entire nation starting from Bengal and thus came to be the British empire as we know it. So this little room the black hole of Calcutta is understood as the spark plug of the British Empire or the excuse that they needed. After the wars in Bengal or Calcutta were over the first thing that Robert Clive the leader did is that he abandoned this old fortress which had seen the war, because it was too battered by war. He abandoned it and he created a new fortress The Fort William, the walls of which you can see across the road. On the other side, the red pillars you see are the walls to the fortress. He placed this fortress in a very, very strategic position. There's a river flowing parallel on one side creating a natural buffer. There's a canal that brings in the water to the city creating another buffer. There's the city of Calcutta on one side being another buffer, but there's only one side that was completely open to this fortress and he said clear it so that I can see an enemy army approaching from far, flatten it so that I can hit that enemy army with cannonballs Further, in the approach. those flattened and cleared lands as the first battlefield of Calcutta is where we're standing at the moment. In the next 100 years, no battle was ever fought in these lands because the British became the strongest in Calcutta as their capital. So in the next 100 years these were turned into more like public parks. What you see around you is only 1/5 of the entire Maidan. There is an entire 1000 acres that the maidan consists of. The Victoria memorial, the race course, 4 different football stadiums they all sit on the maidan. Right now both the fortress and the maidan belong to the Indian army, but they have left the maidan open to the common crowd of Calcutta to come and enjoy as they would like. Usually I bring you here for a few reasons. One doesn't imagine Calcutta in this way. It's got a beautiful view in the maidan , the story of the maidan is very related to the entire country and how it all started for the British Empire. But on the other hand, one of the major reasons why I bring you here is because if you ever ask a calcuttan for a happy memory from Calcutta, one out of top three has to be from maidan you come here with your parents when you are a young kid, you come here skipping school to play football or cricket with friends or you come here on a first date or you just sit under a tree and read a book. It is always a place where calcuttans get a happy memory. A city that is so densely populated has so much space right in the middle of it. It's not on the outskirts it's right in the center of it. So they call it the lungs of the city because of its greenery. But I say it's the heart of the city for what it gives to the city.

Welcome to the largest flower market of Asia. This is known as the malik ghat flower market. Flowers are an important part of different rituals in India in religion in weddings in praying to gods in funerals in birthday parties. Flowers have been an integral part of India's culture. Like every other market in Calcutta, this particular market follows a particular trend called cluster business, which means that similar types of businesses flock together and sell the same thing. So each part of the market specializes in selling particular flowers so that customers know exactly where to go to to find the flowers they are looking for. This market is a 24/7 market and you will get flowers at any point of the day or night that you come here. But of course it has varying business hours and it gets busier during the morning just before temples open up and again it gets busy in the afternoon because temples again open up for people coming back from work in the evenings. Inside the market here there is a very hidden odd job. These jobs are some of the most hidden jobs of the city that contain the charm of Calcutta, but we don't really notice them in our fast-paced lives. So if you look down you will find people choosing flowers, buying them and putting them on their shoulders to create a cloak of flowers. Now they do so so that the flowers can hang their shoulders and they can be hands-free and they do not touch or squish the flowers and the flowers even don't touch the ground when they walk. So they create these cloaks of flowers all around their body and they walk around delivering it to a different location altogether. It is a typical sign of Calcutta's flower market where you see these men and women buying flowers, making it into a cloak and going to another location to deliver these flowers. They are like middlemen between say a truck owner and a place where they need flowers. The truck owner will employ four or five of these men and women and their job will be to come to the flower market to choose the best flowers and deliver it to the truck. The truck goes around the different parts of the city delivering it to vendors or to a completely different location altogether. This is one of our odd jobs in the city and I call it the flower men and women of Calcutta. I keep saying that this is the largest flower market in Asia. How do I say that because we are going to dive right in and find out about it

This is known as the mullick ghat flower market. Where we are standing at the moment is known as a Ghat. Ghat means a slope to a water body .This Ghat is especially famous for a few things. 1. It's right next to the largest flower market of Asia. 2. The river Ganga known as the Hoogly glows right next to the market 3. It is right next to the iconic cantilever bridge, the Howrah bridge 4. It is right opposite to the largest and the oldest railway station of the country. The entire red complex that you see right there is the railway station called Howrah railway station. But it is also very famous for being a funeral ghat. So this is a place where funeral rituals take place. Not the cremation. a Brief description of a usual Hindu Bengali funeral ritual is that Once somebody loses a parent they cremate their parent but once the cremation is done, they go into a period of mourning and the mourning is done through following a few simple set of rules. These rules are followed for 13 days to 10 days depending on the family they belong to and mostly the men follow these rules. The women get choices to follow certain parts of these rules. The rules are 1. No fancy non-vegetarian food and only consuming boiled vegetarian food 2. not going out in public occasions or busy places 3. wearing a certain kind of a white cloth so that people recognise that you've lost somebody in your family 4. not shaving your hair or cutting your nails. Why do we do these? Thousands of years back when people were dying out of communicable diseases, these rules were put into our society or into the scriptures to create an organic bio bubble so that somebody who's come into contact with somebody who's died with a virus may not pass it on to someone else by going into a public place. Avoiding eating fancy on vegetarian food to trouble their own metabolism. Trying to cut your hair or nails and endangering yourself to knives and blades at an already vulnerable physical state. So on the 13th day they come to the river , break the bio bubble and they do a few rituals for the parent they have lost. The crux of the ritual usually is cooking some food for the parent that they have lost because almost everything in Hinduism is about collecting debts and repaying those debts. So on this final day, children repay their debts to their parents for having fed them for their entire lives.They cook some food and give it to the Ganga river to take it back to the other realms. Once that's done, they would sprinkle some holy water on themselves, sit down and shave their hair off completely to become bald. Why? Because when they come into the universe through a parent they don't have hair. They're completely bald. And once they lose the connection to the universe through which they've come into it, they sort of tell the universe that they are starting afresh. They're pressing the reset button and they want the universe to be kind to them. They shave off their hair and become bald to symbolise that they start again without their parents this time. Once these are done they would wear clothes, go back home and with a very close family and friends they would sit down and have some fancy non-vegetarian food. Why? Because they've done all the rituals that were supposed to be done and now it's important that they break this mourning and move on into the real part of society and not look back. When I bring people here I refer them to two movies or books. The first one is a book called namesake written by Jhumpa Lahiri and the movie is also called namesake. Although I do not recommend watching it on a holiday. It is quite intense so maybe somewhere back at home on a lonely Tuesday evening is fine. The second movie is called lion. And the first 40 minutes of this movie is shot around the flower market and a lot of these places that we are visiting on the tour.

Before we exit the flower market, We will be going through a very interesting part where there is an odd job. Everybody inside this little enclosure are priests, but they are slightly different kinds of priests. Every time you enter an Indian shop with a Hindu ownership you will find at some corner of the shop there is a shrine kept somewhere like an idol of a goddess or a god. It is these priests that go into the shops and take care of these little shines. They change the flowers, clean the place up, put new flowers, bless the entire business for the entire day of their business and they go around different geographic locations going into the shops and doing these works so that they get a subscribed amount of money from that shop and earn a living.They have set up their office here because the flowers are available cheaply and the holy water of the Ganga is available in abundance. They are another odd job. The mobile priests of Calcutta who are in the Business of blessing other businesses.

To talk a little about the Howrah bridge this is the most iconic cantilever bridge of the country. It is the icon of Calcutta. when people talk about blessings in disguise from the British Empire in India. This is definitely one such because the British finished building this bridge in 1942 and they left the country in 1947. So this bridge was 5 years brand new for the Indians to take care and use as they would like to. So this is a cantilever bridge which means that there is no supports underneath the bridge apart from the two pillars at the two edges of the river. To give you a brief idea of how a cantilever works, imagine a spoon. You're holding the spoon at its handle and you press it down at the edge of the table with the spoon jutting out. now because you're holding the spoon down on the handle side with your thumb. The spoon end which is jutting out is able to bear some weight. Imagine two such tables facing each other and two such spoons jutting out from their edges to touch each other and create a spoon bridge, where you're holding these spoons at the edges with your thumb. for any weight or any pressure put on this entire this entire spoon bridge, all the weight is transferred through vibrations to the edges of the spoon where your thumb absorbs all these vibrations. So similarly, in this bridge, if you look at the bridge it is taller at the edges which make the pillars heavy and able to bear all the vibrations that the bridge sends towards the edges. So if you stand for a minute you will be able to notice the bridge vibrating. This is exactly how a cantilever bridge should be working. if you're ever on a cantilever bridge and it is not vibrating; run. when I said I will help you feel the vibe of the city on the magic hour tour, I meant exactly this. So taking this bridge we will be going to another city . That is the city of Howrah so the Howrah bridge actually connects the two cities of Calcutta and Howrah and we are currently walking towards Howrah. The magic hour tour is the only walking tour in the world that takes you into another city. When we are in Howrah we will be doing what everybody does from Calcutta. We will be leaving Howrah. because right now it is more like a junction. but how we will leave Howrah is by a mode of transport that locals refer to as the transport that runs on Japanese timing , as it runs on time every single time .

The neighbourhood we are visiting at the moment is the only place in the world that preserves the irony of the universe. What's the irony ? that probably man-made god and not the other way around? Here they make idols of gods and goddesses that they get from the river. They call it Kumartuli I call it god's street. On the river you might have noticed a few vessels kept in the middle of the river. These are used for dredging. Dredging is required to bring out the mud from the riverbed because the river is alluvial in nature, which means that the river brings soils from the plains and deposits it here before moving into the sea. If the dredging is not done occasionally then the river will overflow. It is here in this neighbourhood that they use the mud in a way to create idols of gods and goddesses. Please feel free to take pictures but I would only request you to not use a flash inside the neighbourhood. Each of these little huts or shacks are studios for different artists. Once we stand in front of a studio there are three questions that come to mind.What are they doing? Why are they doing this ? and how are they doing this? q:what are they doing? a:They are creating idols of gods and goddesses from clay or mud that they get from the river. q: Why are they doing this? a:Every neighbourhood in Calcutta celebrates different festivals. They do so by forming a club and the clubs collect money from different people of the neighbourhood through crowdfunding. With the money they create makeshift temporary temples in the middle of the street or at the corner of their neighbourhood. They decorate this temple very elaborately and once that's done they come down to this neighbourhood and buy an idol of a god or a goddess. They keep it inside the temple. They worship it for the number of days that the scriptures say and once that's done, Very ceremoniously They take the idol down to the river to immerse it into the river. So the mud that comes from the river goes back into the river like the cycle of life : you begin and end at the same spot. To understand the last question as how they're doing it. You will notice that underneath each of these idols there is a wooden and bamboo stage or scaffolding stage that they are creating. That is the first step. The second step involves taking straw and binding them with ropes to create the shapes of the gods and goddesses. Once the shapes are ready they will mount it on these stages and they will start layering it with mud. But the mud is quite rough so they take a very thin layer of cloth. Put it on top of the mud and layer it with mud again. So there are two layers of mud that goes in and that makes it smooth. They let it dry in the sun and they do not put it in the oven because they have to be raw as they have to put it back into the river. Once the mud has dried they will finish off all the details and paint it white so that they can colour it as they want. Once the colour is dried they will buy accessories, weapons, clothes from all the shops that you see around who make these things by hand. And they've been doing so for more than a century. With all this they create the idols of gods and goddesses and they've been doing that for more than a century now. We will be walking around in this neighbourhood to explore a little bit more and talk about the back stories of these gods and goddesses.

Because we are here, I think it is apt that we talk a little about the gods and goddesses that are relevant in Calcutta and are celebrated in the city. The most popular goddesses that is celebrated is Kali. One of the oldest temples that the British found when they came to establish the city. Was this temple called Kalighat. And one way of understanding how we came to the name of our city is from this temple. from" Kalighat " "Kali cut " "calcutt " to "Calcutta". to understand the meaning and origin of Kali, we have to start with a particular time where Gods and demons are at war and the demons have a special weapon , a demon with a specidal power. this demon multiplies every time one cuts or hurts it as a drop of blood falls on the ground and it multiplies to new demons. So the demon can multiply like a virus. The gods find it impossible to kill this demon so they summon a demoness to fight for them and if she is able to help she will be treated as a goddess from there on. She is Kali. She starts fighting this demon and gradually understands how to kill the demon. She cuts the head of the demon and drinks all the blood that the demon has. So now the demon has no blood to spill and multiply. So the demon dies. But this violent and crazy blood now runs through Kali's body and turns her into an absolutely unconscious beast. She goes around rampaging killing destroying everything that falls on her path because she has lost all consciousness. At this point of time Shiva comes into the picture . Shiva is also the god of consciousness in Hinduism so Shiva goes and lies down silently and motionlessly on the path of Kali. So at this moment Shiva is action less consciousness and Kali is conscious less action. Two different worlds poles apart, when they collide they would bring about change and equilibrium. as Kali is going about killing and destroying whatever falls in her path, She accidentally steps on Shiva and as soon as she steps on Shiva she is streamed with consciousness of all that's happening in the world, All about the universe in one instant and with so much knowledge flowing through her senses, her tongue rolls out in amazement. this moment is the one that we celebrate as goddess Kali's moment because this image that you see is trying to tell us something. It says that in each one of us there might be a power like goddess Kali. But how we use this power with our consciousness; Shiva is what makes us the humans We are. so goddess Kali is very easily misunderstood as the goddess of power and violence, but she is actually the goddess of control; that one element that separates us from the other animals of the animal kingdom. So we celebrate the conversation between Mind and body with this image Having this said, I also want to add that these are stories and metaphors for us to understand life and not to be taken for the values they are assigned. When I said Kali had to kill a demon that multiplies It means that the problems in our life will multiply if we do not deal with them in the right way. The stories are to be taken as metaphors for us to ask the right questions and that is the crux of Hinduism.

Like all things Iconic our breakfast spot is a 250-year-old sweet shop that has been serving all day breakfast and all day sweets. Please wash your hands and I will grab us a table. We are about to have traditional Bengali breakfast known as kochuri. These are deep fried flatbread with a little stuffing inside, served with a potato curry on a banana leaf. It is vegetarian and at the end we will be served with some of the best sweets from the city. in Bengali culture They say you should not count the number of kochuris you have so please feel free to have as many as you would like to. They are unlimited and all part of the tour.