When Shontu came to Chittaranjan Park

Bengali Fish Dish

Shontu was not looking forward to settling down in Delhi. In fact, he was sure he would never settle down. The city was rough, unfeeling and cold. He wondered if his sweater and monkey-cap from Kolkata would suffice.

When the broker found him a home in Chittaranjan Park, he noted how the nameplate on his left-hand neighbour’s door said “Ruma and Ranjit Mukherjee”. “Are you living with a Punjabi?” demanded his Mom over the phone. “Delhi is probably full of them.” She was pleasantly surprised when he tracked down a handful of Bhattacharjees, Chatterjees, Boses and Goswamis, all down his street.

The day he signed his transfer letter back in Kolkata, he had a hearty meal of all things he loved: chicken, fish, aloo dum and rice. The people in Delhi probably had fish once a week. In their rushed lives, where was the time to sit back and pick at bones? Shontu found out how mistaken he had been only when he stepped into the market one day. There was a long row of stores selling fish, chicken and mutton, ghugnee and fuchka, and sweets of all shapes and sizes. The air was aromatic and he could have jumped up in delight had his layers of clothing allowed. 

When Durga Puja came, there were at least ten pandals at walking distance from his flat. Ma was hysterical:“We have sent you videos of our Pujo pandal. So you won’t feel lonely.” He sent her pictures of the pandals in Delhi instead, especially of the chicken kabiraji which was out of the world.

On Sundays, the colony woke up to radha pallabi – delicious stuffed luchis and aloo sabji. Even the home delivery menus named their items in Bangla. The winds sang Rabindra Sangeet and rain fell down in musical strands of the veena. Who said Delhi was noisy?


Two years had passed since he had first come to Delhi. His room was full of suitcases. It was a chilly day, the kind meant to stay in and cook chicken-rice. Ruma and Ranjit Mukherjee were down in the frontyard, looking for an auto to take him to the airport. Ma was calling him every few minutes.

“Shontu! I am glad you’re coming back. You won’t be homesick anymore.”

He walked down the stairs and into the open. Chittaranjan Park was waking up to a lazy morning. The market was being dusted; it would soon be fragrant and festive. Bells were  tolling in the Kali Mandir, at a stone’s throw from his flat. With a sigh, he realized how Ma had got it wrong this time. He would now be homesick for Chittaranjan Park.

*             *             *

Dilwaalon Ki Dilli

For all the badmouthing that Delhi receives, there lies herein undying charm. Every Wednesday, find on Saddi Delhi a fresh story from life in the capital. Right from delicious food in Delhi’s alleyways to dreamy winters that paint the skies white.

For a tour through Delhi, from then and now, click here.


20 thoughts on “When Shontu came to Chittaranjan Park

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  6. Being a fellow bangali, I have to tell you that this is heart warming and a post that definitely made my mouth water and my stomach growl in hunger! 😛 😀

  7. I’ve never been to Delhi, but I empathize. I live in Chennai and get riled when people bad mouth my city too. So, there, you aren’t alone.

    Home is where the heart is.

    • Do visit sometime. I am sure Delhi will not let you down. I visited Chennai in 2013 and found it a very interesting city. The weather was a tad got for mt taste though. 😀
      Yes, home is indeed where the heart is. 🙂

    • Exactly. Places grow on us even if we initially had apprehensions. It is something time does…and yet I also know of people who have failed to settle down in seemingly nice places, even after living there for years.

  8. Sometimes places we think are new and strange befriend us in unexpected ways.We always seek those special things that ties us to our hometown, even in the new place. Hailing from south of India, I found places serving Idlis and dosas even in Calcutta (my husband’s home) and I also slowly took to the kachodi subzis, puchkas, and fingerlicking gud ka sandesh 🙂

    • Warm welcome here, Vidya. 🙂
      Ah, all the lovely food you talk about makes my afternoon a lot more interesting. I totally agree. When I moved to Pune, I always jumped when I heard someone speak in Bengali and frequented that restaurant which served chicken just the way it is cooked back home. After all these years, I have grown to love pau-bhaji as much as luchi. 😀

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