Park Street for most Bengalis is more than an arterial connector of central and southern parts of Kolkata - it’s a place where tradition, nostalgia and music mingle to create a confluence like no other.
Flury’s, Trincas and Someplace Else.
Hot kati rolls, chelo kebabs and phuchkas in the alley.
Giggles, Oxford Bookstore and Music World (now replaced by Spencer’s!)
This is pretty much how it looked like:
It’s also the place where the true identity of contemporary Bengali music blossomed and metamorphosed – from the days of lone ranger Gautam Chattopadhyay’s Mohiner’s Ghoraguli to entrants of the eighties and nineties and now, such as Bhoomi, Fossils, Chandrabindoo, Parash Pathar, Krosswindz, Cactus, Lakkhichhara, Kalpurush and Hip Pocket.
With a sound and chord structures inspired by an eclectic range – from Eric Clapton and Pink Flyod to the Beatles and the bauls of Shantiniketan – Bengali rock soon found its niche in the nineties and has never looked back since. It’s a niche where Hendrix and the hottogol (turmoil) of Gariahat co-exist peacefully.
And a slice of that musical nostalgia is right around the corner in Dubai.
Probashi Bangalis (non-resident Bengalis) in the city and anyone else interested can enjoy a trip down memory lane early next month with the UAE’s very own Park Street Band (PSB) – the only Bengali band in the Gulf which aspires to become global ambassadors of Bengali modern music.
True to the rich heritage of Bengal and its spirit of embracing everything beyond its borders, get ready for some foot-tapping numbers ranging from Tomar Dekha Nai, Firiye Dao and Doriya with a few Clapton, Lennon or Dylan covers in between; Anjan Dutta to Arijit Singh and Nachiketa; Kishore Kumar to Mohiner Ghoraguli… A spirited celebration of all things Park Street, with some bespoke Kolkata food thrown in.
PSB is a happy convergence of musicians of very contrasting styles, and part-time hustlers all! It features Rohit Gupta on vocals and keyboards – the founding member and lead singer of the Bollywood band Raaga Factory; Cmith Sarkar on bass, also from the same band; Mitin Chakrabarti on drums and Ishan Sen Sharma, the frontman of a Dubai-based English band called Roots, on vocals and guitar. This will be the third edition of the billboard show.
Here’s an inside look into how it was like to be in PSB1 and PSB2:
And just to make the nostalgia a notch special will be cameos by three special people – Neel Adhikari of Span and Krosswindz fame; Chirodeep Lahiri of Parashpathor and Krosswindz on the drums; and Rishi Chanda of Parashpathor and Hip Pocket fame, who will be the lead guitarist for the evening!
Scheduled on May 4 at the Hotel Astoria in Bur Dubai, look up Facebook for more details of #TheParkStreetBrunch3.
And if grooving to the beat of Park Street nostalgia on a lazy afternoon is not really on your weekend calendar, fret not.
There’s more authentic Bengali music frenzy headed to the UAE for what promises to be a power-packed May and June.
With May marking the 157th birth anniversary of the Bard from Bengal, Dubai-based musical ensemble Srishti Live will pay its tributes to Rabindranath Tagore with a dance-drama and a play in a programme called Pronomi Tomare at the Indian Consulate auditorium in Dubai on May 11 at 10.30am.
Noted singer and playback powerhouse Rupankar performs in Abu Dhabi on the same day, at the Indian Social and Cultural Centre.
And Bengali rock band Cactus – which gave us ethereal hits like Shei Je Holud Pakhi – is scheduled to perform in Dubai on June 22 as part of Rhythm Raaga 5.
Watch this space for more updates and don’t forget to share your stories about everything Bengali in the UAE at the email below.
Dekha hobe soon!