Indrajit Hazra’s exploration of Kolkata—once Calcutta, headquarters of the Raj—goes far beyond the expected stories about a metropolis that has been mined for its clichés by a long line of writers, artists, grumblers and tellers of tall tales. He takes us to the eccentric paras (neighbourhoods) and clubs of the north and the south; past buildings crumbling silently into spectacular ruins; deep inside Park Street’s iconic restaurants and watering holes; through roads choked by political rallies; to rundown cinema halls haunted by lonely men; and into the lairs of soothsayers and tantric love gurus.
Part personal essay, part documentary, part cultural history, Grand Delusions is utterly distinctive and full of surprises. Both intimate and provocative, it shines new light on a great and fascinating city.
‘As someone whose formative years were spent in Kolkata, I read Indrajit Hazra’s book with keen interest—and delight. He conveys his deep knowledge of Kolkata’s history and culture with style and wit, deftly capturing the city’s glories and disenchantments, its ironies and its anxieties. The personal and the political are beautifully blended. I thought I knew Kolkata very well—now, after reading Hazra, I shall visit it afresh with new eyes, and greater understanding.’— Ramachandra Guha