Dear Alan,

Right now if you open your eyes, still mercury in its wonder, you won’t smile. Far below the surface of the sand where you fell asleep, red shirt and jeans baked in the summer sun, there was Gaia; and she rocked you in her thick, brown arms. The song in you- hear it?- is her gift.

The vineyards are so gnarled they bear no fruit. Wine is blood (only human now). Your homeland lies in splinters inside your throat. Not a bird is left. Everybody hews limbs off each other. You were tired, little head lolling side to side; she took you in. Beneath the damask sepals of your heart, hope had dehisced. You had no language. Childhood shrank under your favorite oak tree. Your old city had become all but a city.

Maybe a year or two later when your limbs gather masculinity, and the cells of your brain proliferate nebulae-like, you will know how a continent fell at your pink feet, begging mercy and peace and god knows what offal. They sold you. They ate your heart; fought on who ate more elegantly. Dear boy, someday you’ll exhume the fear off your marrow. Someday you will cut off the umbilical cord and fling it down at he remnant of men tearing themselves to chunks of bitter meat. The Mediterranean will be gutted in a gorgeous flash. Light will be salt.

Darwin awaits you. A scarab beetle lies face-down inside his goblet. The fittest have survived.

©Mohana Das

Day-Trips To Take From Kolkata

Kolkata has a unique location. The azure expanse of the Bay of Bengal, the hillocks at the edge of Chota Nagpur plateau, the luxuriant plains, the mangrove forests of Sundarban – all lie just a few hours away. Not only are travellers drawn by the natural beauty, but also by the rich architectural and religious history of the destinations.

Verdant paddy fields and blue-grey rivers add ecstatic beauty, a beauty that has moved many a poets and singers. The beaches of South Bengal and the tip of Orissa are relatively unknown and boast of pristine beauty. We have all this and more covered with this list, that you will be spoilt for choice!

Source: Day-Trips To Take From Kolkata

Best Areas For Food In Kolkata

My first piece on Polka Cafe. Have a look!

“Kolkata is a foodie’s paradise! The amalgamation of the distinct tastes of the Eastern & Western halves of Bengal coupled with motley of influences over history have created a gorgeous and lip-smacking melange of dishes. There are strong Mughlai, Punjabi, Chinese, Tibetan, and South Indian influences. The hint of Anglo-Indian and Armenian cuisine is subtle, but not non-existent. Globalization has introduced more exotic cuisines like Lebanese, South Asian, Greek, Italian, Mediterranean, and Japanese into the palette and niche restaurants catering to specific tastes are opening their doors to them. Bengalis love their fish, meat, and desserts – the ubiquitous mishti that is our pride.

Here are 11 places in Kolkata that you can visit for a gastronomic adventure. Welcome to the land of foodgasms!”

Read the rest of my article here.


my fingers are stained with tannin- “leave the windows open, will you?”- i can weigh the listlessness humming in the air, that scent of paraplegia- “what’s your name again?” the fork slides down the sponge, a burst of cherry bleeds through the chocolate; the saucer stares heedless through the teak, the brick. your hand on my trembling knees.

a spoon clatters. the scarcity of rain pounds against the sole of your mojris. the tea is ripe. if the floor upends, we will be two pendant lights- you brighter, ofcourse- and the bookshelves will open their tongueless mouths and gobble us whole. “what do they call this place now?” from the window, a foreign summer wafts in.

in a parallel world, i am writing you a drawing of the city that died. the cotton interweaves, my fingertips pucker; your eyes are shards of amethyst. “little blue bird has a magic bead,” i see your lips form words. you empty your pockets of stories as i sit, milky-eyed, licking a cantankerous sun.

©Mohana Das


when rain clouds swallow our city and fireflies fold their glow in the shiver of their tiny wings, you sit by the window and wait. from the room across, i look at you and pin away for the slice of your heart that will never be mine. there is the dry shriek of thunder. thorns of bougainvillea pierce the charcoal underbelly of the sky.

a gecko had perched itself on the ledge and watched with beady eyes as we lay spent, perspiring from every pore, the gold of daybreak pooled on our thighs. you had smiled as my fingers ran through your hair. my smile bloomed into a kiss. from over the rooftops, flocks of pigeon carried notes of riyaaz on their wings.

On the Road lies abandoned on your lap; pages turning wayward in the gusty fennel-breathing wind. in my tiny hands i hold unpredictability. sometimes i wonder how love slips from between fingers; how galaxies collide and birth fire balls; how the past resurrects itself and enchants us. the corner of your mouth curves into a tiny smile.

i watch till the rain dissolves the clarity of space and you become a watercolor without form, receding till your window becomes an outline only, a bulb-lit rectangle.

darling, must i ask her story? must i ask if the rain brings her dark eyes back to your mind?

©Mohana Das

Save Calcutta’s Architectural Inheritance

On a random morning as we rode a rickety bus towards Esplanade, the dilapidated warehouses (that I’ve seen a million times) lining Strand road elicited an abrupt “you can’t just let them die!” My best friend was caught unaware but he took it upon himself to show me the Calcutta of his childhood and a new love story began. Since then many an afternoon we have found ourselves gazing at houses with intricate railings and slatted windows and spiral stairwells, debating if there was just some way we could get inside and admire the red cement or black and white checkered marble floors and the long verandahs (we are yet to find the courage to ask the owners!) It is sad to see them crumbling, giving way to faceless structures that have no stories to tell, no whiff of nostalgia around them. Without her rich architectural heritage, Calcutta ceases to be Calcutta. Calcutta ceases to be the city many like us identify with. It becomes a city without a soul. It becomes just another urban maze stripped of poetry and memories and music. It becomes uninspiring. It becomes powerless.

We don’t want to lose the Calcutta we love.

Amit Chaudhuri is spearheading a campaign to preserve Calcutta’s unique architecture. No, we are not talking about the mansions and memorials of the Raj or the rajbaris of the Bengali landowners. We are talking about the hundreds of unnamed houses that are being demolished to make way for swanky apartment blocks in the old neighbourhoods of the city. In no other city, in India or abroad, will you find structures built in what is called the Bengali-European style. For more about the cause, read this article on the Guardian.

Help us save Calcutta’s architectural inheritance by signing the petition here.

A house on Hindustan Park (Photo Courtesy: The Guardian)

A house on Hindustan Park (Photo Courtesy: The Guardian)