Monday, January 26, 2009

Kolkata

Kolkata was amazing. We left Dhaka at around 11 AM on a delayed flight and reached Kolkata at around 11 AM. :) We got on a round yellow taxi that ricketted all the way to a cluster of hotels, none of which took us in. But I was thrilled just to think that I was in the city I read about all this time! To cut a long story short - It took us about 3 hours to find a hotel and move in. A tiny room in Gulshan Cottage was our home for the next two days. Ma Baba and I shared the double bed. I felt like a baby again!
After lunch, we went shopping in the huge New Market. A disgusting smell entered our nose when we entered the market. We figured the mysterious smell came from the freely roaming cattle and goats. For the next few hours, Ma shopped, Baba and I tagged along. The interesting thing was the way they talked. Yes, they really say 'dada' and can't pronounce chh and sh. They also exaggerate everything they say. Literally every shop had lemon and chilli hanging infront of it for good luck. At around 7, in desperation to put something in our stomach, we went to a street restaurant and spent about 30 rupees for dinner for 3. The yellow walls were black with grease. On one side, a little boy was making something like noodles. All the strands dwandled on the floor. After we ordered and sat down, I realised every pair of eyes were on us! The food was not too bad - well, my food wasn't too bad. Baba took meat and rice, which was provided on greasy plates. Our hungry mouths gobbled down whatever we got.
On our way back to our hotel, we baught peyara, biscuits and 'kurkure'. We also passed a piggery.

Next day was our sightseeing day. Breakfast - toast biscuit, a banana. After about half an hour of bargaining, we got on a taxi that patiently stayed with us the whole day. We passed a huge house, which was once Rani Rasmoni's palace. It extended for a whole street, in fact, the name of the street became Rani Rasmoni Rd! Her ancestors occupy the place now. We also saw trams. The tram lines run along Kolkata streets and cars and taxis run on top of them. They move if a tram is coming.
He took us to College Street!!! Presidency! Coffee House! OH EM GEE. Anjan Datta's Coffee House is off College Street, on the second floor of an old building. The alleyway is filled with bookstores. Most of the buildings in Kolkata are very old, with olden wooden windows and fading walls. We climbed up a few dark steps and reached Coffee House. We took a sit next to the window. Sunlight streamed through the window and onto our table, and I felt, yet again, THIS IS THE COFFEE HOUSE! The ceiling was really high, with ceiling fans hanging off. Everything was as dirty as the rest of Kolkata, but that prompted my spirit to increase further. Young couples and groups of friends sat here and there. We ordered shingara and coffee. I took a cold coffee with cream. It was all very nice food. :)
We walked through Presidency for a few minutes, bought some more peyara and got on our taxi again, off College St. Then we went to Rabindro Sharani and Nakhoda Mosque.

We saw Hoogly Bridge - new and the old one, walked by Ganga. Ganga is as dirty as they describe it. I had bharer cha there. We walked for a while and then had jhalmuri for lunch. We saw a puja happening. We also saw premium dating spots by Ganga, with a few couples occupying them. A guy was shaving his head by the river. We also saw boats but the price was too high and time was too limited for us to go on. Then we crossed railtracks and got back on our taxi.

Then we went to Victoria Memorial. The taxi driver dropped us off because there was no parking space infront of the park. We got off and then realised the price was 15 times high for us because we don't hold Indian Passport. Oh well. It wasn't worth going in anyway. But we went on Horse carriage from outside the gate and had fuchka. Dhaka's fuchkas are so much better! We also saw banorer nach. The monkey took a coin off my hand!!

Then we went to Science City, which did not really represent the real Kolkata.

The best thing about Kolkata are the streets, people and the entertainment. They are so vibrant and dirty at the same time that it really felt like I was dreaming. I had so much more to write, but my hands are tired. Kolkata is really an amazing city for a two day holiday.

6 comments:

  1. I loved to see a full-moon through the steel-structure of Hoogly bridge. I was so charmed, that I spent my time to find the camera and take a shot, and regretted rest of the time, cause our camera was too bad to capture that shot, and I missed the whole scene because I was looking for the camera instead of looking at the full moon..

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  2. kolkata sounds exactly like i expected. but not everything turned out as i expected, i expected to see kolkata with my dear sister, she is the only one who was able to share my thrill for kolkata. now i may end up not seeing kolkata at all :). what a sad ending to a happy story!
    i am surprised u didn't mention any tension moments! i am so sure u guys lots of those in dubai. pls do write in minute detail.
    love,
    apuni

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  3. I'm sorry - I think that bridge was Hawra - not Hoogly!

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  4. this is what has been missing from feluda books - the details. i suppose living in kolkata shottyajit ray would leave them out because they are so normal to his eyes. even then i have always wanted to visit kolkata. and after reading this entry i want to go even more.

    i never imagined that such a thing as the Coffee House actually existed. i want to see it! "eki she bagane aaj eshechhe notun kuri, shudhu shei shediner mali nei" - i'd like to see that bagan.

    i hope you took lots of pictures of kolkata. i want to see. put them up soon please.

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  5. emu: i haven't taken any photos. :D

    we didn't have a camera with us because its with apuni. i also forgot to remind my parents to get the video camera so only 3/4 photos were taken - with ma's camera. but i wanted to contain everything in my memory. it was good we didnt have a camera, it prevented us from wasting time behind it!

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  6. The Indian hospitality industry has seen a major hike in the recent times owing to the astounding industrial growth of the country. The growth in the IT sector has also hugely led to the revolving fortunes of the metros and major cities of the country. Offshore business flowing in and the eagerness of the MNCs to come up in India has led to the obvious growth of the hospitality sector also. Most of the big names in the hospitality industry from India and abroad have their properties in the important commercial hubs of the country. However, surprisingly, the hospitality industry is not that vigorously promoted in one of the most important metros of the country, Kolkata. In the past decade Kolkata has also seen major industrial growth. But unfortunately, the West Bengal state Government hasn’t shown much inclination towards the development of the hospitality industry of the state in general and the hotels in Kolkata in particular. Inspite of the repeated appeals from the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Eastern India, the state government hasn’t come up with steps that would boost the growth of the hospitality industry. Most of the suggestions and appeals made by the Association have gone unheeded. On the contrary, the state government increased the luxury tax payable by the air conditioned budget hotels in Kolkata and the ones in the rest of the state by a whopping 650%. Change in excise duties, reduction in the bar license renewal fee etc have also not been worked upon. In one word, the government seems to be underestimating the need to strengthen and boost the hospitality industry in the wake of unprecedented industrial growth. With proper etching out of the taxes and fees payable by the hotels of the state, the state government can make the business hotels in Kolkata and other renowned hotels of the state bring in huge profits for the state.

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