Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Experience of My Delhi – Kolkata – Darjling – Sikkim – Delhi Journey – Part 2

 Outside station, many yellow color Ambassador Cars are in a file. Ambassador cars? Till now? Strange!!! Ambassador cars have been vanished from India long ago and here these cars still exists?  But if so then I will love to experience ride in this car. I was thinking about it and a guy comes to me for taxi. My first question to him is – do you have ambassador car taxi ?  He replied with big smile – yes Me ‘am. Then I ask him anything else…


Soon after I was in yellow color ambassador taxi. Taxi guy, copper color, white hair old man, has started conversation in Bengali but I cleared him that I don't understand the language. Then he starts with Bengali mix Hindi.  He turn back his neck and says - I am 76 year old and been through the two heart attacks and a brain-hamirage. My financial conditions are not good so still working. Suddenly he asks about me. I told him - I am from Nainital. He seriously says – Oh !!! Your state has faced serious catastrophe of Kedarnath this year. Whole state has divested badly. He is well aware of my city and state. I must say again that Bengalis are well-educated people...

He is still talking but I fix my eyes outside from window. Cultural and historical city is in front of my eyes. Many old British buildings are on the way. Some maintained but some are dying. Old buses are running on road but what seeks my attention is Tram. Trams are still in function here. I am excited to see the city in two days as much possible. Driver still talking but I am indulging to see the city. Soon I reach hotel...

Get a quick shower I back to road again.  As I reach on road one tram across me but I cannot sit in tram because tram has fix stop points. I start walking on foothpath along with many shops like tire puncture shops, grocery shop, musical instruments shop, iron smith shop and so on. Road has traffic but not like other metro cities...



 I have no any fix agenda for this journey so I will only go the places where local will advise me to go. I wanna roam around Kolkata without making any plan.

Bengalis are well-educated and simple people. They love talking with outsiders and have enough time to tell address for any place, they have enough time to ask about you and they have enough time to tell about themselves too. This is the reason Bengal still carry the Adda (gossip points) culture...

I went to a shopkeeper and ask him where I can go from here ?  Shop keeper who have grocery shop, came out and asks me about myself then tells me – You can go to Kalighat Temple. Then he wave his hand in front direction – go this side, you will reach to a crossway from there you may get bus or taxi both.  I ask him – will tram go there? He says with giggle – no. So now I am going to Kalighat Temple. Soon I reach crossway but this is busy one. I saw few buses too but all are madly packed so I will take taxi…

This area looks posh with heavy traffic. I try to talk with taxi driver, around 30, tall and tiny, but he don’t understand Hindi properly. In his Bengali mix Hindi he says like a keen politician - Mamta Banarjee’s government is not doing good work for the state. CPI should back in government. Outside window, a huge Church is showing its presence from far away. Driver tells me something about it but couldn’t understand. My taxi is sweeping between the whirlpool of heavy traffic which includes Buses, Old buses, Rickshaw, even Hand rickshaws are still exist here. Most of the buses have very decorative and artistic windows, which seeking my attention…


I reach Kalighat Temple. Once upon this temple was famous for sacrifices but now it's a history. On my way to temple, I stopped by many shopkeepers who are selling paraphernalia for temple. Many shops taking my attention for the stuff they are selling like Goddess Durga’s face on Dry grass bowl. One seller is only selling the statues of different god and goddess. One old lady seller has also stall here. Wrinkle of her face says that she must be very needy that is why she works in this age too…


Crossing market, I enter into tiny street, which covered with both side shops. Everybody offer me good stuff for prayer and few offered me to keep my shoes in free. Everybody is forcing me to buy and few had threatened me by saying - if you will not perform puja Goddess will punish you. I am shocked. Meanwhile a young priest comes and says - I will arrange shortcut visit to main Goddess temple. Shortcut visit for temple !!! time for another shock. These experiences are heartbreaking. I cannot keep my shoes in open so I bought few things form shop and shopkeeper will do priest job for me too…



I reaches into temple promises which is almost empty. I easily visit to main temple without using any shortcut. Jet-black face shining with sharp red color eyes statue magnetize my attention through the narrow window. Before I could understand anything priest pulled out me. He don’t want me to stay there for long. Kalighat temple is not huge but historical. I went to a tributary of Ganga nearby my heart sink again to see the condition of the river. Its stinking badly. Mud and garbage have covered most of the area over which mosquitoes are hovering and more of that one man washing utensils. Though river is long but tiny…

Back to road, I saw hand pulling rickshaw puller. I went to him and ask about nearby place. Tiny middle-aged man says lying on his rickshaw – go to the metro station and take metro for Esplanade. So my next destination has decided now. I sit on rickshaw. Though I find it very inhuman but this is giving job to many jobless people so its good. I ask him – where you from ? He turns his head towards me and says - From Bihar and pulling rickshaw here since last 30 years. My family lives in a village of Bihar. I visit my village every year and send them money every month. My old mother live there with my wife and three children. I want to live with them but there is no work therefore I am working here. He dropped me at metro station...


Before going inside the metro station I need to eat something. I stroll in a narrow street cramped with shops both side. I went to restaurant and order for the Thali in which I get dal, two types of vegetable, roti, curd, chatni and pickle. Soon I get my platter of food. Food is enough for me and its yummy. I order coffee too. When I take first sip of coffee, I am so much impressed. Now I am done so ask for bill. Bill must be around 300 bucks or something but I am amazed to see 40 Rupees only. I went to reception and confirm it again but bill is correct. 40 Rupees bill including coffee. Kolkata is very cheap place. Even in this time you can get proper food in only 30 Rupees. Unbelievable for me...

After food, I stroll in market and back to metro station. In metro, I haven’t faced security checks like Delhi. I get ticket and wait for metro, which will arrive in 15 minutes. Station has decorated with mosaic paintings depicting Indian mythology and British Era. Metro arrive and I entered. Its crowded like anything. This metro is old Non AC metro. In kolkata metro started in 1994 and old metros are still in working conditions. For air ventilation upper glass of metro has been removed. In this crowd, I forget to get out in my station so I off in next station where somebody advice me to take return metro for Esplanade…


 Esplanade is a huge and beautiful British architect building. Many shops and offices are in this building. This is very broad area and I came opposite side of the building to see another angle of it. Now I again ask to a local guy about next place. Advice I get is Howrah Bridge. He also tells me that I can take bus for the place even he himself is also waiting for the same bus. Drizzle starts and I enjoyed it until bus arrives. I entered into blue bus with decorated window. Bus is crowded too but conductor gave me his seat now I can enjoy cool breeze and beautiful scenario of kolkata...

Wearing Khaki dress young conductor gives me ticket. I give him money and he returns me extra money without asking change. Ticket is very cheap. He does not ask me for change like other part of India. The way he is folding currency between his fingers is attractive…

Everybody in bus is busy in talking but I do not understand anything because they are speaking in Bengali. This area is vast beautiful and clean. Drizzling is still up…

I cover huge area by bus to reach Howrah Bridge.  Howrah Bridge is long and huge iron suspension bridge. This bridge is famous for its architect. Bus is now entering inside the bridge. I can feel the vibration of bridge inside bus. This is really a giant structure. Uncounted traffic is moving on the bridge and uncounted people are walking on the bridge.  Conductor drops me in front of Howrah Railway Station. Red color building made in British Architect is in front of me…


I take turn and huge River Hooghly is there. I went near to river I comes to know that I can go for ferry ride too. Find out ticket center and ask him – Sir where can I go from here ? Ticket wander is an old man. He looks me through his speck and asks me – new to Kolkata? I replied with smile – yes. He smile back and says – you can go to Baaga Bazar and take return ticket to back here…


I went to deck and wait for ferry. Duck is bustling with passengers. One ferry reach to deck and some passenger came out and some get inside but this ferry is not going to Baaga Bazaar so I have to wait. For me ferry ride is exciting thing but the people of Kolkata use it to move one place to other. This is the part of their daily life. Howrah Bridge is showing huge presence from here and background of blue sky and clouds are making it beautiful. Few wanders are selling food stuffs...


 Ferry arrives and I enter into it. Atmosphere inside ferry is completely different. It was again full. I made little efforts to make my space. Center area of ferry covered with long wood benches. Some passengers are sitting on them some are standing and some are holding hangers hanging from roof. Its sultry inside. I come to an open place from where I could see the River Hooghly. When everyone settled ferry start with ballistic sound of engine. After a while, ferry is flowing on brown color water of river like ocean. Cold breeze starts blowing and making weather pleasant. Few wanders are selling tea and Jhalmuri (Bengali junk food) in ferry but bad part is that all are throwing plastic garbage in river.

As ferry moving forward scenario is changing every time.  Many small places are existing on the bank and reflections of these places are spinning in water. Ferry moves below Howrah Bridge. Huge bridge is above us. I am immersed by the beauty of river Hooghly but now time to get off because my station has come…


Where ferry dropped me is Hindu graveyard. Smock coming through burning bodies is making atmosphere smoky and air smells different. Row of mud shacks are along with the graveyard, which sell funeral paraphernalia to the people. Beyond these shacks, huge British architect colony is existing. I could not go further coz it was getting dark. I back to Ferry station when I saw few kids are engage in a small procession I could not understand. Anyway I back to ferry stand and get return ticket for Howrah Bridge...


Atmosphere of ferry is still same but dusk filled everything in yellow light.  River Hooghly is glittering in this light and making landscape amazingly beautiful. Cold breeze is enhancing the beauty. Soon I reach to my destination. Howrah Bridge is giving different feel in night. I start walking on wide footpath along with Howrah Bridge. Until I walk on bridge, it was continuously vibrating due to vehicle vibration. I stand for a while to gaze the River Hooghly, which is sprinkling dusk light …

Crossing bridge, I come to main road. Then again, I ask to someone for bus to my hotel. Fruit wander advice me – take little walk and reach to bus stop from there you will get bus. While I walk, I saw huge flower market down side. Almost every type of flowers are selling here. After crossing this market, I reach narrow vegetable market and then to bus stop…

This bus is yet again jam-packed. I somehow arrange seat but I am uncomfortable. Passengers are busy in chatting in Bengali. This is M.G. road, which I saw in shops address beside with road. I am cramp in bus and somehow manage to take ticket. Luckily I soon reach my destination. However, this is not my hotel. Bus conductor advice me to take auto rickshaw for hotel. I take auto rickshaw and through the many narrow streets I reach my hotel…

I am tired but I went out for dinner. Receptionist suggests me not to go far this time. I went to nearby Bengali restaurant and order for Bengali food. He serves me Bengali plate including dal chokha, aloo chokha, chawal and few more. As I didn’t know how to eat it so I finished my food in my way but later he tells me how to eat food. Anyway, now I need something sweet so order for Misti Doi but my hard luck they don’t have this so I order Rausogulla...

Everything has been closed by now. Street is in dark. I back to my room and slept... 

Continue... 

11 comments:

  1. Listenin' late last night
    I heard the screen door slam
    And a big yellow taxi
    Took my girl away

    Beautiful photos Vineeta.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello Vineeta,
    A great report with very impressive shots. So great to see.
    That bridge is very special. This is enjoyment.

    Greetings, Marco

    ReplyDelete
  3. Excellent travelogue. Now I want to go to Kolkatta.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You had quite an adventure in Delhi, and had many modes of transportation about the city. I thoroughly enjoyed your photos and descriptions.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It looks and sounds like quite the adventure.

    ReplyDelete
  6. That was quite a wonderful day that you had in Kolkata! Beautifully photographed too!

    ReplyDelete
  7. The howarh Bridge is beautifully captured, i am travelling a lot these days in Bengal, looking forward to more images of the trip

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wonderful coverage of heritage Kolkotta.

    ReplyDelete
  9. So much to see and read in they post - the lack of the Ambassadors was one of the first things I noticed when I was back in India earlier in the year.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    ReplyDelete
  10. what a fun wandering in Kolkata dear Vineeta!

    i am thoroughly impressed with first taxi driver who was still active and optimistic in life inspite of all odds!

    such taxies are gone from here too long ago ,specially since online car service is available travelling inside cities is kind of luxurious now.

    enjoyed each place you went and each sight you described .

    Kolkata sounds incredibly cheap as here only coffee costs more than 50 though khairpur is small town like city .Karachi ,Islamabad at nice places coffee cost 150 ,prices grow with the quality of place which is irritating sometimes.

    I once read an interview of Nasiruddin shah in which he said that "he prefers to visit through public transport because living among common people make one learn more ground realities about life .
    rickshaw driver is another example of such experience .

    i always wondered about hindu funerals ,today learnt little from your sharing .
    thank you for wonderful adventure

    ReplyDelete
  11. It's really sad to see the river in such appalling condition!

    ReplyDelete