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Summer Spotlight: Devin Creed's Journey in Kolkata - Exploring History, Culture, and Culinary Delights

The Office of Global Affairs and the John Hope Franklin Center are excited to spotlight the vibrant journeys of our students, staff, and faculty. As they embark on international adventures, we'll be sharing their unique stories and experiences, showcasing the diverse and enriching global engagements our community is involved in.

Devin Creed, PhD Candidate, Kolkata

Introduce yourself. 

  • I’m a history PhD candidate studying modern South Asian history. I have been an academic year FLAS fellow with DUMESC in 2022-23, 2023-24, and will again be a fellow for 2024-25. I have used the fellowship to study Urdu and conduct dissertation research in Urdu. Urdu, which comes from the Indian subcontinent, is the Persianized register of the Hindustani language, and it uses the Persian script Nastaliq. My current goals are to finish my dissertation and get a job as a professor of South Asian history.

Describe the city you’re living in. 

  • Right now I live in Kolkata, the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta) was the capital of the British Raj for a number of years, and has always been a center for culture, arts, music, and literature. It is a dense, hot, colorful, and friendly place. Though the native language here is Bangla, for over a century Urdu-speakers have been migrating here, and the city boasts many neighborhoods where everyone speaks Urdu (or Hindi, which is mutually intelligible) and Urdu script can be seen all over buildings.

What is your favorite thing about living there? 

  • My favorite thing about living here is the food! Kolkata is home to (in my humble opinion) the world’s greatest street food, the kathi roll. The kathi roll consists of a parantha (a kind of fried flatbread) wrapped around a meat or egg filling, with raw onions, chili peppers, and various sauces and spices. My go-to is the egg chicken roll, which usually costs about 75 cents. 

What is one of your favorite memories in this city? 

  • For New Year’s Eve, I hosted around twenty people at my apartment and cooked a Goan fish curry, a Keralan beef fry, and a Bengali aloo bhorta. I study the history of food in South Asia, so it was fun to experiment with recipes and cook for my friends.

If you had 24 hours in your city, what would you recommend doing?  

  • With 24 hours in Kolkata, I would recommend hitting the classic tourist spots: Victoria Memorial, Princep Ghat, Millenium Park, Park Street Cemetery, Howrah Bridge, Jorasanko Thakurbari, Indian Museum, and College Street. You also must try the kebabs on Zakaria Street, the rolls on Park Street, the Indo-Chinese food in Tangra, Anglo-Indian food at various Cabins, and Bengali food at various Pice Hotels. 

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