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Kolkata Introduction

Kolkata, previously known as Calcutta, is one of the main cities of Indian and perhaps the most famous or sometimes infamous and somewhere that everyone seems to have an opinion about, good or bad.  It was in 1690 that Job Charnock, an English merchant established a trading post on the River Hooghly at the village of Sutani.  Over time, this and the neighbouring village of Govindapur and Kolikata developed into the city of Calcutta.  The centre of operations for the British East India Company it in turn became the Capital of the British Government in India until its transfer to New Delhi from 1911. The name of the City was changed in 2001 to Kolkata, the Bengali pronunciation.

The City is in the state of West Bengal and has been long renowned as a place of culture and learning for Bengalis and lead a renaissance in Bengali art and literature with one of their most famous sons being Rabindranath Tagore a contemporary of Ghandid.  Coffee Houses were famous as centres of intellectual and political debate.  The stamp of the British is still very evident in the architecture of the central areas of the city.  Buildings are in various states of repair from well cared to virtually decayed, with modern features intersecting with the Victorian history.

Andy went there for 10 days to help with the first testing in the field of the product that he has been working on.  Two sites were being used, both in villages outside of the city.  I joined him for a weekend, not long to explore but enough to gain a basic impression.  It has a completely different feel from Delhi, having a more distinct centre and a wide open park in the heart called the Maiden along with the undoubted 'British' feel of the place.  In some ways it was very similar, the busy traffic, crowded streets and the unexpected sights that pop out in front of you all the time.  Many people expect the city to sit of the coast but actually like London it is somewhat up stream, meaning that there is no sea breeze to reduce the heat and humidity at the height of summer.  The old parts of the city are very crowded, but we did not get to see much of those areas.  Overall though i came away with a good impression of the city and enjoyed the weekend.


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