The train journey from Ahmedabad to Kolkata has never been so eventful until this year. I generally never recount my train journeys, but this time it’s worth recounting. Well, it was the “India vs. Pakistan” finals and the entire train in unison is watching the final match. I am not much of a cricket enthusiast but I am Indian after all and have seen my father take a fancy for the former sport. Each over had captured their breath. The aunty with watchful eyes continues to give her insights to Maa. The uncle who is engrossed in his newspaper takes a strong animosity of auntie’s insights.These were few glances which I saw while I preferred to read “The Night Train at Deoli and other stories” by Ruskin Bond
Ruskin Bond, a good old-fashioned chap who writes peaceful stories at heart. I know it’s a kid’s read but still, leaves me with a smile. The book gives away the part of life in Himalayan foothills where Ruskin bond has spent his most of the life. I sigh as there are no cheers for the Indian team anymore. The team seemed to lose it bad. I headed to my berth with a sigh.
The day we reached Kolkata we were greeted with a very humid weather but the scent of the sand and view of yellow taxis brightened up my mood. Hailing a taxi to salt lake sector was familiar but after five years it seemed home hadn’t left its charm.
Kolkata being ruled by the Britishers had street names which I always took fancy to. New town, South city, Park Street, Esplanade, Ballygaunge, and Alipore are most highlighted areas. I was greeted by my freckled grandmother who had made my favorite almond barfi. At my grandma’s place, there are trees surrounding our balconies which open up to a garden in front playing Rabindra Sangeet. The first thing that I had in mind was to take my sketchbook to capture the pleasant views’ had certain places lined up for other days, which mostly included the adventure rides at Nicco Park. Being at Eco Park, I did zorbing for the first time and got out all sweating, but had a lifetime experience. Since my school time, I had a fascination for archery and when I finally saw the archer’s bow lay out at the table, I was giving the board one shot for sure.
Next destination was the mother’s wax museum, which I would surely recommend to anyone who is visiting the new town, Kolkata. From legendary leaders to present politicians, high-profile Hollywood actors to Bollywood artists, from inventors to singers, from cricketers to cartoon character, it has all one can think of. Being a through foodie, I decided to lay my hands on Jal- muri, and gol-gappas. For non- veg lovers, do have the grilled fish and the Bengal style cooked chicken.
Walking through the bazaars of Kolkata with the hot kullad chai, one can see that life of the sepia toned frame is in motion here. Vendors roaming about in lungis, and having samosas from Haldiram is what go for. Satyajit Ray’s movies which aptly describe Bengal’s culture and traditions were even shown at the old opera cinema, the oldest cinema in Kolkata. The trams which were alive in Satyajit Ray films, still show up rarely in some streets. Walking to the Victoria memorial hall and seeing the famed coins as well as war equipment was queued for the evening.
The Victoria memorial hall which is an example of Indo- Saracenic architecture and is dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria. It is a house of remarkable collections of paintings, artifacts, weapons, textiles, coins, and stamps among others and maintains few possessions of the Queen like her writing desk and chair and scrapbooks. I was able to catch up an exhibition of Satyajit Ray’s works inside.
Paying a visit to St.Paul’s cathedral church was lined up for the day before I was leaving. Known for its gothic architecture, the former is painted in white and is considered as the largest cathedral in Calcutta. A heaven resides for the art lovers as the church displays beautifully painted murals. I was in a hurry to check out the Indian museum, looking at the old relics and framed coins, mask as well seeking out some statues of old species. Well, I had climbed up to see the masks but was spellbound to the view. More overwhelmed when I bought books from the college street at exceptionally cheap prices.
Transportation is at ease as one could take the buses or the local taxis dotting the streets which just fall in place with the city’s backdrop. If you want to save time, check on to the points through which the metro. Being an observer of human nature, the people do not aim for a change. They love the local routine and are glad to live with it. Clung to their umbrellas in rains or Sun, these people prefer the checkered lungis and loose shirts. Because we scuttle so much through our lives, constantly handling works, family and social obligations, we sometimes forget the simplicity of living.
Places that you must visit when you are visiting the city of babus are:
- The Victoria Memorial Hall
- Mother’s wax museum
- Eco park
- St.paul’s cathedral church
- The writer’s building
- The Indian museum
- The Howrah bridge
- Birla Mandir
And if you are a shopaholic, I have the best places in mind for you:
- B.K market
- Metro plaza
- A.C market
- Park street
- Camac street
- Vardaan market
I was in love with the city and would paint all the amazing sights which I had of it. Without batting an eyelid just book yourself a vacation there, I am sure you will not regret it. The Darbaan at the gate who helped with the luggage gifted me a small figurine of goddess Durga and blessed me, saying that ”may you be as fierce as Ma and continue to flourish with her blessings”. Me *sighs with content!