badge

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Exotic East- Kolkata and Beyond

Traditional Bengal attaire

 As the days now drag into months the restrictions on travel bring forth a plethora of memories and the never-ending thirst to explore keeps getting stronger.  Sometimes, the treasure of old notes taken during the extensive travels bring back vivid memories. One such memorable trip was undertaken in the early 1990s to explore the Eastern part of the country.

During the month of June, the journey commenced from New Delhi by the train. The bookings were all done well in advance as getting reservations has remained a challenge notwithstanding the surge in the number of trains. I had booked an entire trip from Delhi to Kolkata, and onwards to Gauhati and Shillong which was a no mean feat in the absence of internet. I had spent more than two hours to get the reservations at the New Delhi Railway Station. So armed with the bookings, and our luggage we boarded the train from New Delhi for Howarh on the D day. No trip would ever be complete without a quick visit to Higginbothams, the bookstall on the platform. The evening newspaper, a magazine for wife and a new comic for the daughter, would provide respite on the long journey.

Amidst all the din on the platform and the coolies quickly dumping the luggage on board the moving train, heckling with the customers, we finally bid adieu to Delhi. After settling down a quick cup of hot tea provided the greatest relief. Around night the train reached Aligarh and it was time to unpack the homemade dinner of pooris, vegetable and pickles. The train gathered speed and tore through the night while we slumbered on the sleeper. The noise of a small baby crying from the nearby seat woke me up. I looked at the watch and it was almost 5 AM. The train was entering the Mughalsarai ( now renamed as Deen Dayal Upadhaya Junction, don't know how many people know it). It is a very important junction where trains coming from major destinations from all directions converge. After a little longish halt, the train then moved into Bihar and the train stations in route were full of people and several times people gatecrashed into the compartment. The scenery changed to soothing green as the train entered W Bengal. There was a constant downpour till the train reached Kolkata,' the city of joy'.

Traditional Bengali Food

The ride from Howarh to Hungerford Street was eventful as a sea of humanity greeted us everywhere. The Howrah bridge was majestic as ever as was the river Hooghly! The BBD Baug, Writers Building  Eden Gardens, and Park Street bring back the memories of 'Feluda' stories of Satyajit Ray. The city has so much to offer that a lifetime is too short to experience it all. The next few days were spent visiting the Victoria, Birla Planetarium, the Science Museum, Kali Bari, the amusement park in Salt Lake, New Market, Garihat, and a ride in the metro! A morning walk-in the Elliot Park adjacent to Victoria and surroundings gives a glimpse of how a common man enjoys small pleasures of life! Sipping tea in small earthenware cups, eating 'Moorhi' and 'spicy singhara' egg rolls' to the more affluent eating' English breakfast ' in the 'Flurrys' are sights to remember. On the way back umpteen shops of 'Sandesh','Kheer Kadam' and Rosgollos are as much in demand as the sweets of 'Park Sweets','Balram Malik' et al. The unique identity of Kolkata would need reams of paper to describe the pleasures. One can get the best 'Chinese ' and 'Marwari' food in the city besides food from all over. One need not have deep pockets to survive in the city. 




The modern face of Kolkata

A non-stop fun at Kolkata was to be followed with a next long journey by train to Gauhati, and a trip  through the tea gardens of Assam and experiencing the incessant rains of Meghalaya will follow in the next post

15 comments:

  1. I love that menu with loads of vegetarian options!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Masla mudhi, egg roll and sondesh are to die for... I have never been to Kolkata... But being a native of Odisha and sharing a similar cuisine I can say if you are a foodie and a non-vegetarian then well a life time is not enough to try all the varieties these regions offer :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many thanks for reading my posts Ira:). I have been to Odisha too.... and it has its own share of delicacies and beautiful places

      Delete
  3. Good afternoon, how are you? I am Brazilian and I am looking for new followers for my blog. New friends are also welcome.

    https://viagenspelobrasilerio.blogspot.com/?m=1

    ReplyDelete
  4. Beautifully defined trip in brief! Lockdown is a great time or break from the rushed lifestyle to stay back and relish on the joyful memories of journeys as we quite miss traveling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot for readin, Jeevan. The joyful memories of past travels is enjoyable these days!

      Delete
  5. Really felt elated to know that you've read the 'Feluda'stories :-D

    Kolkata has changed a lot since 1990. Do visit it again after this critical time is over... :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Maniparna !I have enjoyed the writings of Bengali stalwarts who have contributed so much. Kolkata was the last place I had been to in March this year and I travel there at least twice a year:)I love the 'City of Joy'.

      Delete
  6. Reading about a known city, sitting in a new city..feeling so nostalgic..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome to my blog Sayani! I am happy I could stir some nostalgia! BTW I accessed your blog and most writings are in Bengali which I do not understand:(

      Delete
    2. I had once started writing blogs years ago..I wish to restart again..this time probably some topic in English also😀

      Delete
    3. Looking forward to read. Thanks

      Delete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete