It’s just 6 pm and it’s so dark outside that it feels like 8 pm. We are in a kurta shop called Prapti and it is so so peaceful here. The pounding inside my head has almost stopped. This place gives no hint of the rush, traffic, noise and chaos happening outside in the G market area. While E’s Mum is getting chicken rolls for us from Bedwin and Boudwin, the oldest and world famous rolls, we rushed through the narrow footpaths, which are selling 2nd hand books, earrings, plastic stuff, katha work blouse pieces and jute bags. I wish I hadn’t shopped so much previously this year; I could have got worthy, cheap stuff here. How much ever dirty, congested and poor this city may look to be, I am falling in love with it. In fact, I had fallen in love with the idea of Calcutta even before landing here.
So why is my head pounding, you may ask? Because I fell sick in the morning. And this happened because of excess consumption, no excess hogging of sandes yesterday. I ate and ate and ate like there’s no tomorrow; like I’m never going to get sandes ever again in my life. I must have had, like, 7 pieces in a span of 4 hours.
When I got up in the morning today, I felt my stomach doing weird things inside. Usual stomach problem because of too much food, I thought. But when I went for a bath and I felt dizzy, sick and wanted to puke, I panicked. This is exactly what had happened to me a couple of years ago. I was puking for 2 days. It was something to do with acidity. Looked like the same thing.
I felt weak; very weak and could barely walk, sit or sleep or so anything, for that matter. E’s Mum called up a Doctor relative of hers and gave me medicines. I don’t remember if I went off to sleep and how I must have looked like because E’s family looked quite amused. Of course, they took real good care of me and I knew I would be ok because I am in good hands. And when I felt better I realized our whole plan for the day had been destroyed. Marble palace, Flurry’s, Book Street, Kookie Jar, walking around the city – all down the drain. I can’t express how muh I regretted not being able to see the city the way I wanted to and also missing on all the gorgeous food. E pointed out on an optimistic note that this just gives me an opportunity to come back here once again. Sure, I will!
We left from home at around 1, after lunch, and head straight to New Market. Though I feel fine in a sense that I do not feel pukey and stomach feels ok too but I feel very very weak. I am barely able to walk and don’t feel like eating or talking at all. I lag behind E and her Mum and want to sit down at every opportunity available. We go to Khadim’s where cheap leather goods are available. It is very crowded; Durga Pooja shopping seems to be happening in full spirit! I look around at the colourful chappals but don’t feel like buying anything. We go further into the narrow lanes holding shops selling everything from bed sheets, plastic and glass ware, cosmetics, electronics to crockery. We buy hair clips, dress materials and glass ware and stop over at a Parsi bakery which happens to be one of the oldest bakeries of Calcutta for some snacks. I take a fish cutlet. It is too salty (again) for my taste and it doesn’t taste like fish too. But anyway, I wouldn’t have left without trying something from there.
We head towards a sari shop where I buy saris for Mum. I am left impressed by all beautiful silk saris. Suddenly, my taste in saris has changed. Good bye, Clinging Crepes and Georgettes. Hello Silk. These printed silk saris will look brilliant with wooden / dull metal beads and other forms of chunky / vintage jewellery (no gold, please). Well, someday. Till then, I can always wear the saris I gift Mum!
We also buy beaded jewellery worth dirt cheap from the footpath outside. And, oh yes, we also stop at Wills Lifestyle and I buy a shirt and a cotton capris (I think my health became perfectly ok after this!).
Before it gets dark, E’s Mum wants her to meet their Swamiji (they follow Ramkrishna Mission) and I decide to wait in the car to preserve energy. I use that time to make a few phone calls and what do I notice in a while? E’s Mum and E are walking towards the car with Swamiji himself! When he was told that I am waiting in the car and am not well, he came down himself to give me prasad, some books and his blessings for me to get well soon. I was so touched and overwhelmed!
So, here I am, devouring the chicken and egg roll from B & B and I must thank E’s Mum for giving me effective medicines so that I am perfect shape to eat these heavenly rolls. Non veg, finally! Real Calcutta food, finally!
We start packing up as we have to leave tomorrow morning. It’s cool and winds are blowing outside. There is a slight drizzle. I get up and rush to the balcony to close the door. E’s Mum shares a light laugh with E. (I have been sneezing and shivering at the slightest drop of temperature. Everyone, though troubled by this, has been highly co-operative in this regard). I know I have missed quite a lot of Calcutta but I have enjoyed each moment I have spent here, with all the people. This was an ideal vacation and I wish it had been longer.