Thursday, December 22, 2011

An American's view on Kolkata - Day 2

Woke up around 9:00 AM. Came down to tea and biscuits, courtesy the Awesome Mrs. Biswas. Sneha dropped by in the morning, then left, then came back again. After tea, I got down to typing up the events of the last two days. Sneha eventually woke Gourav up, and we had breakfast while I talked smack about Atique to Sneha (with input from Gourav now and then). So far, nothing eventful. Will update as the day goes by.

Later on we popped down to KCD - Kaka's Chai Dukan. At least, that's one of the interpretations of the acronym. It's one of the places Gourav used to frequent, and he had told me about it at length, so I had to see it for myself. The chai was good, the company was great, and it was definitely an awesome time.

We (Sneha, Gourav and I) had lunch at home. I gotta say, the food is amazing, but the quantity is a little too high for me. Another IHOP full. Chicken, beetroot, cauliflower, and staple rice and dal. We chilled after lunch, and Sneha got to see Gabriel Iglesias' "Hot and Fluffy" comedy special. I think she liked it, she was laughing as much as Gourav and I. Also, I should introduce the concept of "laed", for those who don't know what it is. It's basically the ultimate laziness, and Gourav was eating a lot of it. I should clarify: the Bengali verb "to eat" is used for many different types of consumption, like food, drink, and in this case, "laed". In this case, it means that Gourav was being a lazy bum. Sneha had a fun time getting Gourav out of bed.

After Gabriel, we went out to St. Xavier's College for a Christmas program. First was the choir. Good stuff, but they got nothing on the Spicer choir. They sang a few carols I knew, and a few I didn't. Was fun to listen to, even though I was starting to nod off. After that was a sort of performance poetry in Bengali. I didn't get anything, but it sounded pretty good to me. I'm sure if Javits is reading this, he'll have plenty of comments to make. We bailed out after that. We walked around Park Street, which is like Pune's Koregaon Park and MG Road combined. Lots of shops and stuff. It was an interesting walk, and the conversation was good. We split up at the metro station, Sneha went her way and Gourav and I went ours.

We took the metro down to Tollygunj. I can't really find a relative location from my experiences to compare Tollygunj to. The best I can say is that it's the center for roadside stalls. Kind of reminded me of the stalls you'd see during a matsuri in Japan. We took a walk and Gourav took me to a chai stall he'd been telling me about for ages. The tea... Ah, the tea. Even with my knowledge of English, I can't find the words to describe just how awesome that stuff was. Lemon tea, with a hint of salt, sugar and special masala. Absolutely divine. We travelled on after that, catching a rickshaw to Sakher Bazar.

Now, the rickshaws in Kolkata are different from the ones in Pune. While rickshaws in Pune charge you by distance (and charge you double by default), the rickshaws in Kolkata are kinda like buses. They travel only certain routes, and they charge a flat rate for the journey. So, catching a rickshaw means you need to know where to go to catch the rickshaw you want. Kind of refreshing, after all the bickering and arguing that comes with rickshaws in Pune. Also, a rickshaw with a switchboard. Interesting.

So we took a rick down to Sakher Bazar, and from there to Diamond Park. Walked around for a bit, met up with Ronojoy and chatted. Then, back home for dinner. Chicken and rice. IHOP full again. I swear I'm gonna put on a thousand pounds with all this food...

So far, this city is familiarly unfamiliar. A lot of things: Rickshaw, Metro, etc... They are concepts I'm familiar with from my life. But the implementation, the usage of these things, the little details that differ from how I know them to be... These are what make them unique to this city, this trip. I might never get to experience all this the way I have. It's an amazing thing, when you think about it. I never guessed I'd wind up here, doing what I'm doing, going where I'm going, meeting who I'm meeting. It's an amazing chain of events. This city has its own beat, and I'm not quite catching it yet. But it's new, and I gotta admit, a change of pace is always nice. I came here with the expectations of seeing new things, and I have. And it's only been two days... I'm sure there's a lot more in store.

Bonus Points: 3x multiplier for knocking out three modes of travel in one outing: taxi, metro, and bus.

High Score: Fresh grape juice in Tollygunj.


  1. Hello. I am a lost friend that you seem to have forgotten. get in touch with me whenever you can. please. :)
    How are you by the way?

    1. I'm... better. How do I get in touch with you?