Once upon a time, not so long ago, when Bengaluru was still Bangalore; when the only non-Kannadigas to be hated (only during the Kaveri issue) were the Tamils; when IT had not yet reared its head; when it was not yet 2000...... there were only four metros in India namely New Delhi, Bombay, Madras and Calcutta. It is about one such city that I shall write, the city of joy; the Indian football capital; the left bastion; the land of Satyajit Ray... Calcutta!!!
Come to 2007, Cal was the only former exclusive metro that I had not seen. Hence, it was with great anticipation that I waited for my week long training session to start at Cal from the 26th of March, 2007. I know, some of you may me saying, "Here goes the city crazy wierdo!!" Never-mind, Ich bin Wierdo!!!
25th March 2007
The Kingfisher flight from Bombay to Calcutta was on time and one of the airhostesses was stunning; heart achingly beautiful. Let me confess, there are some women who are so beautiful that your mind refuses to think about them lustfully. You wish that you can enshrine them in your heart, and treat them just like an oyster protects a pearl. And if such a pearl happens to be damn knowledgeable providing you with a wonderful overview of the aviation industry, you feel a strange kind of bliss!!!
But, I digress.
The flight landed on time and I was soon standing at the queue of the Bengal Taxi association to get a pre-paid taxi to Salt Lake. Getting a taxi booked is the easy part. The tough part is finding it in the taxi stand, wherein the onus is upon you to find the taxi. Fun, nevertheless!!
26th March, 2007
Training was done and dispensed with for the day. An evening's date with Cal waited. 6 of us just bundled into the good old Ambassador taxi and asked the driver to take us around the city and drop us off at Park Street. The long drive took us past Park Street, Howrah Bridge, Eden gardens, HQ of East Bengal; Mohun Bagan; Mohameddan Sporting and Writer's building. This was a day to savour and take in as much of the city as possible.
Had dinner at Kwality Restaurant, Park Street. Personal suggestion - the food is kinda OK, but service is poor. Some of my pals call it the communist way of service wherein every customer is treated with the same speed... SLOW!!!
27th March, 2007
Easily the best day of my stay. Went boating on a stretch of the Hooghly called Atramghat. (This is how I have deciphered the pronounciation. Any Bengali reading this may correct me if I am wrong; to be precise, it is the stretch of the river near the restaurant with a glass face through which you can overlook the river; also a railway track upon which the local to Barrackpore runs, lies along the river bank. There is also a ghat called Judges' Ghat). I have to thank my Calcuttan colleagues Soumak and Simran for suggesting this place and coming along with us. It was one of those boat rides where you could literally lie on your back and see the stars. Have to (mis)quote Coldplay, "...I look up I look up at night...and my thoughts move at the speed of light..."
28th March, 2007
This evening was dedicated to THE MALL, City Centre. Its a lovely mall, different from the others that I have seen in that, there is more open green space than shops. Drank tea from Kullads, spilt a lot of mountain dew on the floor of the KFC and bought a CD of Pather Panchali; which I have not yet seen.
29th March, 2007
Nightout time... only break was to have tea at a nearby tea stall. Delirium was the order of the night with pressure and time telling on us. Somehow scraped through.
30th March, 2007
Finished the training and went over to New Market. Located a good book store and purchased Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul and Snow. The owner is very knowledgeable and will help you out with the selection of books. Just look for Mohan's book shop in New Market opposite the Lighthouse Cinema. A short stroll brought us to the Esplanade metro station and at the spur of the moment decided to take the metro upto Tollygunge. One word about the Cal Metro - artistic!! Every station is based on some theme, something that is going to be adopted in the Bombay metro. Kaalighat has pics of Kaali, Rabindra Sarovar has illustrations of Tagore's poems etc
31st March, 2007
Left Cal with a heavy heart and arrived at Bangalore with an open mind ready to enjoy a week's vacation.