Thursday, December 22, 2011

An American's view on Kolkata - Prologue and Day -1

Right, then. As some of you may already know me, let me just introduce myself. My name is Kade, and I'm an American who's been in India for around 10 years, on and off. However, my experiences in India were somewhat limited, as I hardly ventured out of Pune - not for the lack of opportunity, but for the lack of interest. I really don't care about touring placing and seeing all the tourist spots, or visiting a place because it's famous. Which is what everyone suggested. So, when my roommate suggested I come down to Kolkata for Christmas, I was initially apprehensive of the idea. But hey, if you don't try, you'll never know. So, we booked our tickets, and now here I am. And it's been an interesting trip so far.

The point of this blog is not to be a travel guide to this magnificent city. It won't tell you where to go for shopping, or what to look out for. It won't give you tips on saving money. It's just me, throwing my words at you for you to read. So don't expect any life lessons: Just read and laugh. I'll try to update every day, but you can expect it to most likely fall between 2-3 days for posts.

Kolkata - Day -1

Started out train journey from Pune on the Duronto Express. First time I've ever been on a train for so long, and much better than a flight of the same duration. We left Pune around 3:15 PM. Not much interesting happened until the evening. The family sitting opposite us in the compartment had a cute little girl who got along with Gourav fabulously. Atique got stuck in another compartment, and talking to the TT to convince him only got him a scolding. Odd fact that G pointed out to me: Both Atique and the TT were Bengali, and both were trying to speak Hindi XD. Anyways, no luck for Atique, so he got sent back to his own compartment. Sharing the space opposite our bunks (We got Side upper and Side lower, on the side of the compartment) were two sisters from Kolhapur, also rather cute. Divya and Shweta. After watching them play cards with their cousins who came from the other end of the compartment for quite a while, we got the idea that a few rounds of Uno wouldn't go amiss. And they didn't. They loved the game and we had a lot of fun stacking +2s on each other. Gourav got smacked with a +14, as my memory serves.

Dinner on Duronto was much better than expected, and way better than anything I've ever had on the three-hour rides from Pune to Mumbai on the Deccan Queen. Although it was a little cramped on the seat (Note: No train in India is fluffy-friendly), we managed quite nicely. Chicken curry for dinner, with dal and rice. Snacks were a cheese sandwich and I don't remember what else. Plenty of food to be had, though. There really was no need to buy snacks, but we did anyways.

Our Uno games were joined by Dhamesh, Divya and Shweta's cousin. Although young, he had an attitude to match MY age. Really fun family, those guys. We played Uno and laughed and pretty much got introduced that night, and we all wrapped up and light's out at 11.

Now, while Gourav and I were having fun in our compartment (B8) with these two lovely ladies, Atique was stuck in B6 with, as he put it, "two uncles." And, as Gourav once told me, "Stick 5 Bengali people in a box, and they conversation with always wind up on politics." I can imagine what Atique had to sit through. And, mean as it may be, I did laugh about it.

Another similarity between Duronto and planes: Bathrooms are way too tiny. At least, I felt so, but then again, I don't think I should be used as the standard for such things. At the end of each carriage of the train are two bathrooms (4 per carriage, therefore). One Indian, one Western. Note to self: measure the chain on the water mug BEFORE doing your business T.T

During the downtimes on the train (I.E. Bored out of my skull), I was lucky enough that both Val and Usagi-san decided to talk to me, so I was always texting them. Gourav was also (I believe) texting his girl, and Atique was... I dunno, doing whatever has was doing while stuck with two uncles.

We met Gourav's friend, Rohit, on the train as well. Sat and chatted with him for a bit, but he didn't hang out in our compartment. Mostly Gourav was going over to his. Cool guy, and it didn't take him long to figure out which one of us was the crazy one (Hint: it wasn't me... I don't know how, but it wasn't me.)

My last complaint about Duronto: The beds. Also not their fault, though. I don't the train was designed to accommodate fluffy people. But I did manage to get a good's night sleep.

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