Farewell, City of Joy: US Consul General and wife bid adieu to Kolkata
After three years and dozens of functions where she sung Tagore’s songs in Bengali, Kolkata’s US consul general Craig Hall’s wife, Meeryung, is getting ready to bid adieu to the city that introduced her to the taste of mutton kasha (spicy mutton curry), kichdi and momos, apart from the eternal human values of Tagore’s numbers.
Hall, who did her masters in Western Classical music, was completely taken in by Tagore immediately after landing in the city. She heard his songs first at the poet’s ancestral home at Jorasanko in north Kolkata, where she was treated to a rendition of Ami Chini Go Chini Tomarey.
She then appointed a tutor who would sharpen her pronunciation of Bengali and also told her the meaning of the songs.
Host Subha Pal, who is also the director of Manor Floatel Limited that runs the city’s only floating hotel on the Hooghly, said Hall would be missed in the city’s social circuit. “Meeryung had been so active in any social cause and enthusiastically soaked in the spirit and culture of the city. I hope she becomes the city’s undeclared ambassador and takes a part of Kolkata wherever she goes,” said Pal, who personally prepared an array of scrumptious snacks to spice up the afternoon gathering.
In a free-wheeling chat with Indulge at a private party at Pal’s south Kolkata residence to bid farewell to Hall, she looked back at all the fond and not-so-fond memories of Kolkata. Excerpts:
What are the aspects of Kolkata that you will miss?
I will miss the food, especially momos which I find magical. Besides, I will also miss the friends I made here and the overall hospitality of the people.
What are you taking back from Kolkata?
Of course, Tagore and his songs. I am stuffing my suit cases with loads of spices since I love Bengali food. It is here that I developed a taste of mutton, especially, mutton Kosha, the spicier the better. I am also a big fan of kantha stitch embroidery (a particular school of hand-stitched embroidery of rural Bengal) and taking a lot of kantha works from designer Shamlu Dudeja.
How did you find the city to live in?
Well, it enriched me as a person. I got to know some very enterprising and enthusiastic ladies. I never knew ladies here are so strong and powerful. There so many things that have touched me in Kolkata. I also realised there such a huge gap between the rich and the poor, which saddens me at times.
What is your next port of call?
I will be back to Florida, to my children. I am going with an open mind with anticipation of the next job.