Calcutta

The Magic Of Doors & Windows

I have realized just a few months ago on my second trip to Laxmi Vilas Palace (Baroda) and the recent trip to Calcutta, that doors, windows & railings – all with delicate, artistic designs or rustic look, fascinate me. When I was roaming around Calcutta, I couldn’t stop gaping and going all ‘wowwww’ over the various balconies of old houses and the doors/windows of my friend’s old ancestral home.

DSC00917

Laxmi Vilas Palace

DSC00936

Laxmi Vilas Palace

The older, the better. The more bucolic, the better. The more Victorian, the better.

DSC00924

Laxmi Vilas Palace

On one side are elaborate beautiful motifs which take your breath away and makes you marvel at the artisans’ patience and skill, and on the other side are old, historical doors which speak hundreds of years of history and memoirs.

DSC00952

Some old walls of the Gaikwad kingdom laid across Baroda.

A door invites a guest to a home even before the hosts do. A door is the face of the people living in the house. A door reflects a person’s personality.

DSC00959

An abandoned house, Baroda

I look at old houses and wonder how many generations have lived in it. How many old eyes have sat for hours on a chair waiting for their sons and daughters to come to them. How many little feet have run on the floors. I often feel sad looking at abandoned houses. Who lived here? What happened to them? A tragedy? Do they miss the house?

DSC00950

Laxmi Vilas Palace premises

Laxmi Vilas Palace (Baroda) is a beautiful palace – perhaps the most beautiful one I have seen till date. It combines Mughal and Rajasthani architecture and has delicately carved arches, pillars and ceilings.

DSC00938

Laxmi Vilas Palace

DSC00939

Laxmi Vilas Palace

I had been to Calcutta some days back and it felt like an ideal travel tour for me. I could get in touch with the old India, its history and could connect with the roots.

DSC01155

An ancestral home, Calcutta

DSC01150

An ancestral home, Calcutta

Windows are our outlet to the world. I have spent many hours in front of the window during my exams when I was trapped inside, forced to study, and kept looking out at the bungalow opposite to ours to see what was happening there. Right now, my bed is right beside the window and I totally love it.

DSC01196

An ancestral home, Calcutta

DSC01190

An ancestral home, Calcutta

In the past, I had visited a village near Surat and seen some quaint, old doors there.

DSCN4358

DSCN4351

I don’t know why I am attracted to doors and windows but I am! Do share your pics too Smile

DSC00665

Sun streaming in through the sheer curtains. My cousin’s home, Bombay.

Advertisements
Categories: Calcutta, India, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Oh…. Calcutta…

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!

111_effected

222_effected

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.

444_effected

333_effected

666_effected

555_effected

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!

777_effected

888_effected

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.

Categories: Calcutta, India, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Going Back To The Roots (Calcutta Day 2)

I get up groggily at 8 am having had a very sound sleep. I remember I am in a village 4 hrs. from Calcutta in E’s uncle’s majestic house. I get ready quickly in the living room sized, green marble bathtub bathroom. The house is quiet, obviously, since it so huge and I’m in one of its corners. I see that the first floor has 4 bedrooms, a common lounge room, a work area with a sink, a study room, a gym and a balcony. I quickly click a few pictures and go down.

DSC01042

DSC01050

I spend the morning with E’s eldest Uncle seeing his Europe pictures. E’s Jiju joins us and we have a lovely conversation about history, travel, photography, etc.

DSC01049

DSC01051

After lot of yelling, confusion and general chaos, we stuff ourselves into 2 cars and proceed for E’s Nani‘s place. The family ancestral home. I have been waiting to see this place because of my love for vintage and historic buildings. We go to a nearby village, named Bahula, through narrow lanes lined with huts, small shops and water bodies. We dodge dogs, goats and cows sitting and walking on the road.

DSC01068

DSC01073

How much ever the quaint huts and old structures enchanted me, I did notice the visible poverty. I would have loved to walk around the village and look at the houses, but neither did we have time for that nor was it advisable, according to E.

DSC01065

DSC01048

DSC01064

After crossing obstacles like coal piles, all kinds of speed breakers and animals, we enter the area where Nani’s house is located. E’s late Nana is a well known personality in the village having done lot of good to the villagers. A lot of land owned by their family is given away to villagers for their shops & stay on rent.

I don’t have words to express the level of delight I had when I entered the premises. It was quite like I imagined it to be. A huge brick house coloured in different shades of rust and cream, with tiny green and blue coloured heavy, wooden doors and windows. A huge aangan (compound) occupies the centre of the whole plot. The two-storied main house is on 2 sides, servant quarters on one and porch and a well on the fourth. We are greeted my E’s sweet Nani (Dida, in Bengali) looking totally delighted to have her whole family around her. She specially calls out my name, looking out for me, as her special guest, and I am sent in front of her. ‘This is my house’ she says in broken Hindi. I’m given a warm reception and E shows me around the house.

DSC01133

DSC01134

The house contains several interconnected rooms, each complete with beds, cupboards. Old framed photographs adorn the walls. Several old items, representing memories, I’m sure, are decked up on window sills and table tops. It is a typical grandparents’ place – displaying photographs of children, their childhood and wedding photos, their grandchildren’s photos, grandchildren’s old toys and books.

DSC01077

DSC01120

DSC01080

I get enchanted and go into a clicking frenzy. It felt good seeing the whole family reunite. Their family reminds me of my own family.

DSC01081

DSC01087

Ground floor comprises of 4 bedrooms, 3 store rooms, a pooja place (prayer room) and the kitchen and washing area. My favourite place here happens to be the long corridor that leads to the kitchen. The corridor has 2 doors leading to the aangan and some windows. It was easy walking barefoot as the floors are extremely clean, dust and trash free.

DSC01122

DSC01117

DSC01108

DSC01139

DSC01147

I have fallen in love with rural India, traditional Indian architecture/designs and everything rustic more than before.

DSC01121

DSC01089

DSC01154

DSC01149

DSC01110

Nani is a very sweet lady. Old, but a dynamic lady she is, I tell you. She wobbles around the whole house, looking extremely happy and refuses to sit at one place. She speaks very softly and understands all that’s happening around her. It’s no joke maintaining such a big house and she’s taken good charge of it. Of course, there are more servants than you can think off, to look after the house. Nani makes sure I am always in the vicinity. She keeps calling out my name, asking everyone around me if she can’t see me. I’m indeed getting special treatment here!!

The house is almost 50 years old. This is the house where E’s mother and her siblings (7 of them in total) have grown up and E and her cousins have spent their vacations. Reminds me of my own Nana’s house, where I and my Sis spent several exciting summer vacations with my Nana, Uncle and Aunt.

DSC01111

DSC01124

We are served traditional breakfast on the corridors, which is, Gughri (potatoes and white peas) and pooris and boondi laddoo. Traditionally, ghooghri is to be eaten with muri (murmura).

DSC01106

DSC01107

Almost the entire family is here and I am beginning to finally understand who is who for whom. I had a good time because there are many cousins of the same age group and it’s easy to relate to them. All the family members are very nice and simple. I do not feel an outsider at all. I feel, in fact, like a new family member. E’s cousins seem to be very surprised that I can’t understand Bengali. ‘You really can’t understand Bengali? Not even little bit? Isn’t it similar to Hindi?’. Well, what about so many people there who don’t understand Hindi? So, when I and P (E’s cousin) got into talking about what I write, should I have gone all ‘You haven’t read my blogs? You haven’t? You don’t know about my blogs?’

A grand lunch is being prepared in the customary kitchen on chulha (stove made of mud) burning with the help of coal. Lunch consists of bhat (rice), Shukto (mixed vegetable), Aloo and khas shaak (Potatoes and poppy seeds), mushroom shaak and kheer. One of the cousins ask me whether we have rotis during lunch too. Bengalis don’t consider chapati a must in their meals; rice is the primary item. The food has a distinct flavour which I can’t quite place. I later talk to E’s mother and she tells me that they use Jeera and Rai prominently. No chillies are used since many family members do not prefer spicy food (that explains the bland food). The food is cooked in sarso ka tel (mustard oil). The food is too salty for my taste. I am content that I am able to taste the traditional Bengali cuisine.

DSC01159

DSC01157

DSC01164

The rest of the day is spent is chatting with each other, going to Durgapur to see off a cousin and to the mall (the mall!!). We eat Egg Roll (priced damn cheap at Rs. 25) at a hawker’s. Though I’m dead tired and sleepy by the time we’re back, the start of antakshari in the aangan makes me want to join them. I go out of my hiding and join the elders group. Like all Gujjus are born garba dancers, all Bengalis seem to be born good singers. Almost all of them sing so well. We have a great bengali-hindi musical session which ends with 2 songs by me and we head for yet another meal in the dimly lit corridor.

DSC01125

I crash on one of the many bedrooms on the first floor, which incidentally looks quite eerie at night because of the silence and dim lights but I am too tired to notice anything. I want to fall asleep but not before I write down the whole account of my exciting day.

Categories: Calcutta, India, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Great Bengali Reunion

Every family has a Jiju who makes everyone laugh and is the star of the gathering. Every family has a cousin/uncle/aunt no one likes. Every family has a brother who’s mature and helpful and runs errands for all the elders. How could I not feel at home amongst this family?

The 3 sisters (including E’s mother) become little girls again when with each other. The brothers sit together in the veranda discussing various subjects and get teased by their sisters when they comment on any of the home related affairs. Their wives merely watch the whole show and enjoy it, quite used to it after so many years of marriage. The husbands of the sisters get bullied again, which is no different scenario than home. How do they not expect it especially when they are in minority? The children meet each other and go on with the usual pranks, teasing and joking, replaying the childhood moments. The grandmother looks at everyone with immense satisfaction, very happy just because her house is full and everyone else is so happy.

Not everyone in the family has moved out to big cities. Even though they have gone abroad and lived outside, their roots bring them back to where they belong. Youngsters touch the feet of all the elders on meeting and while departing. Elder men of the house eat first while the ladies work hard in managing the cooks, the food and getting all the arrangements ready. The kids have grown up and are mature enough to help the ladies or sit down to eat first with the men.

DSC01085

DSC01097

DSC01113

DSC01102

Love between the family members was so apparent. The couples have seen each other grow old and share jokes. The Mausi loves her sister’s kids as much as her own. The girls have the right to demand anything from their Mama as Mamas are meant to spoil girls. A cousin demands mushrooms and within minutes, mushrooms are ordered and lovingly made for her. The girls group around their only cousin brother and he patiently listens to their blabber even though he’s a thorough professional now and feels that the girls are behaving like kids. The Mausas, the outsiders adopted themselves to the family, give an eager helping hand whenever required and shower all their love on the kids.

E’s family is one of those Indian families who love art, music and culture. They make sure they do more than sit around and chat and catch up with each other. They sing together. They remember old stories. They tease each other like old times. They share their passions with each other and get appreciated in turn.

This is one family where the kids have fun pulling the leg of the elders too, knowing very well where the line is.

Joint families are rare today. People move out of their homes to build careers; girls move out after marrying and the direction of their life changes. But in our busy lives, these family bonds are important and need time too.

* * *

Categories: Calcutta, Travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Calcutta. Finally.

The landing at Calcutta airport is simply beautiful. We see water everywhere – on tracks, in fields, on the road. Irregularly shaped small water bodies lie here and there. Unnamed little streams flow haphazardly in different directions. What E’s Mom had said about Calcutta being flooded seemed to be true. Half of Calcutta land seems to be covered by trees. I like that.

When we exit the airport, pushing through crowds, it is raining. We are greeted by E’s Dad and we hurry into the car, half drenched. I sit comfortably, chatting with E and her Dad, glad not to be subjected to the rains and mess outside and look at the rainy sights outside. I can’t stop clicking. I know, I am behaving like a tourist in my own country but hey! I’ve never travelled to Calcutta before!

DSC01019

DSC01020

DSC01023

I look outside the window mesmerized. Not that there were any mesmerizing-type sights but I was just SO EXCITED about being in a new city and getting the opportunity to explore it. Calcutta, as I remember from my past short visits, is a congested city. You get to see lots of poverty here. I don’t see it this time. All I see is old stone buildings with colonial / Victorian railings and balconies, wrought iron lamp-posts, traditional houses with colourful wooden doors and windows and old name plates. It amuses me that I am so enthralled by these old buildings today while some years back, I had ridden on these very roads thinking of Calcutta as nothing but an under-developed congested city.

DSC01034

DSC01038

DSC01037

Loyal Kolkataians listen to Kishore Kumar and R D Burman & continue using Ambassador taxis. Tiny shops do their business below chawl-type old, crumbling houses. Vintage bright blue coloured buses stuffed with people and snail-like trams garnish the city.

DSC01206

DSC01279

DSC01273

We take a turn into a side road off the main road and I hear some singing sounds. I exclaim – Oh, mosque! E, her Dad and driver, all start laughing much to my embarrassment. Apparently, that isn’t the namaaz coming from a mosque. That is Ravindra sangeet! They play it, it seems, so sooth the public in disturbing times!

Calcutta seems to be a chaotic but a laidback place. People don’t hurry and rush here and there as if there’s no tomorrow, like people in Bombay do. The aware, intellectual Bengali is modest, simply dressed and real. I don’t see much of flashy stuff here.

DSC01303

DSC01276

After freshening up and having lunch at E’s place, we pack up and leave for E’s maternal Uncle’s place at Ukhra, which is around 4 hours away from Calcutta. We stop at Fancy Market before we proceed for the highway.

Fancy Market is where you get smuggled imported goods at throw-away prices. Of course, you need to bargain and the genuineness of the product is highly doubtful. We go there since E’s Mom knows an honest person there who gives them good deals and never cheats. We buy shampoos and stuff from there.

DSC01298

DSC01240

We touch the highway soon but you hardly feel like you are on a highway since it is so crowded. We aren’t able to move much because of the bad roads and heavy traffic. Its dark in some time and we are barely half way through. Considering that it is a night road journey, I have panicked and lost half of my wits because I am so scared. To top it all, it is raining. I squeal and express fright every now and then confusing and distracting the driver.

We cross Durgapur and reach the village of Ukhra at around 9 pm. Most shops are closed. Some villagers are hanging around each other’s shops in groups chatting. I don’t see any women outside. They are probably taking care of household chores. We cross mithai shops and I am dying to lay my hands on a few rasgullas.

I stumble out of the car on reaching E’s Uncle’s place (and immediately spot an old house situated on the opposite side of the road) and am greeted by my new hosts. The whole of E’s Mother’s family – Uncles, Aunts, Cousins.

I am given a warm welcome and the excited family members talk to each other all at the same time. Bengalis are generally excited, loud individuals and I should expect no other sight. A cousin has come over from the US and today is Rakhi. Enough reasons for the whole family to break free from their schedules and reunite. I am introduced to everyone and made to sit at the table. While E’s loving Mom and Aunts serve Muri-Chop to me, I look at everyone trying to connect relations. Who is whose wife? Who is whose son? Who is whose Mother? Urgh. Let me eat first.

Muri-Chop is the staple evening snack of Bengalis. Muri means Murmura in Hindi or puffed rice in English. Chops are potato cutlets. I realize later on that Bengalis eat Muri with almost everything.

I smile a lot and try to be as polite as I can. I am not used to being around joint families (mine has been a nuclear family and I have lived outside my home for more than 10 years. So, I fear that I might say something impolite which may be considered rude or ill-mannered) and am careful about what I talk. I have a nice time chatting with E’s cousins, who are all of the same age group, while the family sees old family albums, joke with each other, and tease each other. 2 little kids play around and cry occasionally. A typical family reunion.

I watch as sisters tie rakhi to their brothers. Relations that were not created by blood seem to have been formed as ladies tie rakhi to men they consider their brothers, even though they aren’t their brothers by birth. I watch all this silently, understanding, but not really feeling because I’ve never had a brother.

We have a very heavy dinner of simple rotis, sabzis and lots of mithai. I love the sandes and can’t say no when I am offered another one. We also have another Bengali mithai called Langcha, which is nothing but a sort of a gulab jamun shaped oblong. I am so stuffed in the end that I want to throw up.

Some family members start leaving, leaving me wondering as to what the plan really is. All I know is we are supposed to go to E’s Nani’s place the next day but am clueless about where she stays, when are we supposed to go there and where are half of the people moving to? Everyone is amused at my confusion.

DSC01045

DSC01043

I am also dead tired and E finally leads me to our room. I am confused – is this a house or a palace? It is huge! The bedroom we are given is majestic with a closet room and a living room sized bathroom. I quickly change, freshen up and lie down to straighten up my poor back. I feel scared a bit because the place is so huge and there are so many dark windows around. I fall asleep thinking that I will wake up early the next day so that I can click snaps of the location around the house.

A satisfactory day one ends.

Categories: Calcutta, India, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 19 Comments

Inching Forward

As I sit at Ahmedabad airport waiting for my flight boarding to begin, I only mildly remember of the chaos that happened yesterday; it seems so far away, when actually it’s just a 10hrs old story. What’s a trip without an adventure, anyway?

Well, calling it an adventure would be a cruel insult to the whole act. To speak the truth, I’m thankful we’re alive right now.

Even though I realized just on reaching Surat station that I didn’t have a photo ID proof, I stayed cool, snapped my fingers because I had had a brilliant idea. I’d tell my parents to bring my PAN card since my train was to pass their home. Alas. My father was extremely upset about it and mother, disturbed. As it is they aren’t happy about me going alone to Europe and only look for opportunities to highlight how irresponsible I am. Rains and traffic prevented them from reaching the station on time. I was sure we would manage something. I still had my passport copy in my mail.

The train journey ended really slow and late with the train stopping several times before the station. We stood at the door for approx 20 min (counting the diamonds in one guy’s ring – approx 60. Or more). It was raining when we got off. Little did we know that there were worse things were awaiting us.

We got an auto after lot of bargaining. The auto guy, who reminded me of actor Pran, disclosed, when his auto broke down in middle of a heavy traffic road, that the clutch wire of the auto had broken. There we were, stuffed into the auto with 2 heavy suitcases and 2 backpacks at 10 pm and he’s hunting for a garage. He obviously couldn’t find one. So there was only one way. He pushed the auto and when it caught speed, jumped into it and started the engine. That was the only way he could get the auto running – by not letting it stop. And was it possible on the road? No. But he still did it. We got squashed between buses. We went off the road. We almost killed people. He shouted at people on the way. He drove on the opposite side of the road and came bumper to bumper with oncoming traffic. It was as good as travelling in a vehicle without brakes. I don’t remember breathing throughout the way. Nor do I think my heart beat. I do have a fear of driving in the dark. I keep visualizing ditches and boulders and animals and humans coming out of nowhere onto the middle of the road. And this journey only strengthened the fear.

I was willing to do anything to get out of that vehicle. I was so furious with the Pran look alike. He has no right to fool around with people’s lives!! Can’t he be honest and not take passengers for that last bit of earning for the day just because his vehicle is defective?

Tired, exhausted and hungry, we reached our destination and stopped over at McD for food. And there we are faced with another hurdle – my photo ID. The absence of it, rather. E’s dad reacted worse than my Dad did. He got all worried and hyper and angry about my silly act. Since her parents are just other forms of my own, I know what’s in store for me when I meet them.

We call almost everyone we know to know what could be done about the photo ID thing. I saw my whole Calcutta trip plan crashing in front of me but an old but valid Central Railway ID card, which I have kept in my wallet since 2005 for memory, along with my last Bombay local train pass, showed a ray of hope.

And it did. It worked at the airport. I shared this with my parents but I’m sure that still didn’t make them happy. Of course, he had offered his help in terms of coming to Ahmedabad to pick me up in case I’m not allowed on the plane.

Hopeful and excited again, despite the rains and early hours, we got ready on time and leave for the airport. All through the way, E showed me landmarks and views outside. Ahmedabad looked lovely even in the rains at 6:30 in morning and I liked the city already.

The airport wait has been quite uneventful except the great chutney served with khandvi (we are gujjus at heart), the exorbitant rates at Subway and the Japanese (E’s colleagues) we met at the airport.

I am delighted to get a window seat in the airplane and that too not above the wing. Yippie! I love looking out of the plane window and my face is normally in the window as I am looking out. So I do exactly that.

E has slept (she wanted to avoiud talking to the man sitting next to her in the aisle seat. He looks like a terrorist, accordingly to her, and was asking her too many questions, which she lied to. I overheard him telling E that he wanted his daughter to become a plumber), I have skimmed through the book I am carrying. The outside sphere is very bright and the window cant be kept open. So, I stare at airhostesses and look around in general.

Finally, we are about to reach Calcutta. Calcutta! Finally! After waiting for, like, 3 months.

Categories: Calcutta, India, Travel | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Fleeting Thoughts & A Train Journey

I’m over hearing the girl in the neighbouring seat’s phone conversation (she’s had a fight with her BF, quite obviously, the piggy eyed guy who had come to drop her off at the station).

I’m spying on her mobile phone screen. (I have the habit)

I’m staring at the girl in the opposite seat’s bleached hair. And occasionally at her rock sized diamond ring.

I’m staring at one guy’s hairy hands.

I’m bitching about everyone around me with E.

I’m occasionally glancing at one man who is staring at me.

I am occasionally staring at the girl who is staring at me. I like it when girls stare at me. They probably are jealous of me.

I’m trying to hide my phone from E and the sobbing girl who’s just had a fight with her BF. Obviously she can’t be reading this.

I’m thinking what fight she must have had with her BF.

Is he her BF??

I discover her name is Mallika (Spied on the ticket in her hand. I got that habit too. Peeping and spying)

I’m watching drops of water falling beside me on my seat from the AC vent above.

I am trying not to pay attention to my stuffed stomach lest I feel sick.

Drops of water fall again.

I can’t listen to “Mallika” clearly. She’s speaking so softly. How do people manage to keep their voice so low while talking? I can’t do that.

M (short for Mallika) is telling her BF ‘Why are u not talking to me properly??’. And then she (or maybe he) hangs up.

Trying not to be nervous about what will happen at the airport tomorrow since I don’t have a photo ID proof.

Wondering why the TC suddenly questions and heatedly and rudely tells why I’m sitting on no. 37 instead of 36, which happens to be just beside it. Even though the seat is unoccupied. He doesn’t even want to believe when we (ya, E jumps in to save me) tell him that water’s dropping from above. ‘From above?’ He asks incredibly and suspiciously. The guy on the opposite seat ( no. Not the hairy one) contributes by pointing out another place where water is dropping from above. God sends angels in different ways. Anyway, the TC hates me. That’s for sure.

Oh, and the TC sends the coach supervisor to check and correct the problem. He definitely wants to get me out of this seat. He’s losing money on it, of course!! And now the guy is standing up and mending it the desi way. He puts in sheets of newspaper somewhere in the corners of the AC vent and I can’t stop smiling. ‘Now water won’t drop?’, I ask him smiling knowingly. He doesn’t get the sarcasm. ‘Now.. Shouldn’t fall’ he says uncertainly. And sure enough, once I’m back to my seat (the TC’s watching through the door), a man comes and sits on the third seat. The TC got his money!

M’s gone. The TC thing is over too. Now there’s nothing exciting going on. So I think about food. What do we eat when we reach Ahmedabad?

After a couple of more hours of idling, bitching and staring, I finally reach Ahmedabad.

Surprisingly, the Indian method of repairing the AC worked. No drops of water fell.

(PS: We are in the train on our way to Ahmedabad from Surat. We have the flight to Calcutta tomorrow morning. My journey begins. I am SUPER EXCITED!!!)

DSC01008

A mosque in Surat, located on way to the railway station

DSC01011

The totally jammed fly-over on way to the station. Everybody seemed to be rushing out of Surat for the long weekend. Thank God, we had left a good 1+ hours early. We chatted the whole way. We never are deficient in stuff to talk about!!

Categories: Calcutta, India, Travel | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Oh Calcutta

I am spending sleepless nights since a few days. Not because I am worried about something. But because I am SO excited! I am always excited when I am leaving for a new destination – on holiday or otherwise. Isn’t it lovely when travel opportunities just land up on your lap? Yeah! It just happened with me! I and my roomie, E, have been planning for and talking about our Calcutta trip (which starts day after tomorrow) since 4 months! Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But true.

I have experienced this earlier too. That more than the actual travel, planning for a travel is fun. And this proved me right now too. I have been telling everyone about it and E’s family is all excited about we visiting their hometown and they are all set to take us around. Travel is fun when you pick and choose what you want to see specifically and that too with a local. E’s family is based at Calcutta and I left the whole plan to her.

The focus of the tour is food. What else can one expect from a foodie? There’s going to be lots of sweets like Rasgullas and Malpuas and Mishti Doi and delicacies like Chelo Kebab and Biryani. We’ll be hitting old bakeries (Flurries & Kookie Jar) and cafes (Coffee House). Oh my. I am drooling already. Food is a greed I can never overcome. I lose all my willpower when it comes to sweets or spicy Indian stuff.

Since I love old buildings and heritage architecture, we will be visiting the Marble Palace and basically going crazy clicking around the city. Calcutta presents an amazing mix of local culture, colonial history and influence from other countries. With my keen observing & atypical deduction sense, I will be looking at Calcutta with a distinctive angle.

I am also getting the opportunity of visiting a typical Bengali family. We will be visiting E’s grandmother’s place, which is in a town near Calcutta. Her family has used the instance of Rakshabandhan & long weekend for a family reunion. So, what would I be doing? Sitting back and enjoying the show!

How can girls miss shopping on a trip? And so, trip to the China Market, Book Street and sari shops is planned too.

Our bags are packed. Day wise schedules make. What to be worn on each day has been decided. The camera battery is being charged to its fullest. And Facebook status has been updated. I look at the calendar everyday waiting for 12th August to arrive when we will leave for Ahmedabad to catch a flight to Calcutta. Any points for guessing what I would be busy doing all through the trip? Writing and recording each and every moment, of course!

Categories: Calcutta, India, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.