Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Trip to Kolkata!

Going back home always stirs up a million emotions within us, especially if home is hundreds of miles away. I left Kolkata way back in 2000 after spending a good 15 years in the City of Joy(?)! My schooling was completed there and thereafter we moved to the City of Dreamz - Mumbai. I was never too attached to Kolkata. The weather is horrible there, grimy and sweaty all the while and the peoples' tempers are always above permissible levels. The 15 years that I spent there was 90% misery and 10% fun mainly because of circumstances at home. Yet, strangely, despite the fact that the city has not offered too much to me except a nightmarish 15 years, I can't deny or run away from the fact that it is where I belong to - Kolkata is home!

Ever since I have moved out of Kolkata, I have tried to visit it at least once a year mostly during the festive season. This time around I decided to visit it in the summer mainly because my granny had not been keeping too well. Anyways, my granny's place is around 120 kms from Kolkata. It's a place called Medinipur. It can be called the twin city of Kharagpur (of IIT fame). It was gruelling hot there, so much so that I couldn't sleep altogether for 3 days. The days are unbearable. The evenings are a tad better but the continuous load shedding makes it worse. My granny was doing relatively better when I reached. However, she needs to be taken care of and the heat only makes her miserable. Anyways, I used to go out almost every evening with my cousin (who is around 14 y.o. and 6'1") to eat chaat and pani poories (Bengali ishtyle)!! I gorged like crazy! I also took my other two smaller cousins (3 and 1.5 yrs old) for ice cream, cakes etc. My aunts and uncles took me out for dinner to two newly opened restaurants in the town and to my surprise they are quite nice!

1. The Karnagahr Temple
2. Maa Mahamaya
I also went to Karnagahr, a 15th century temple around 20-25 kms from Medinipur dedicated to the Mother Goddess. There are three temples in the complex, a larger one dedicated to Lord Khageshwar (Shiva), the smaller one dedicated to Maa Mahamaya (the Mother Goddess). My aunts and my cousins accompanied me. I went to the temple a good 5-6 years later. The temple authorities have renovated the temple, gave it a fresh coat of plaster and paint. There is a Hanuman temple there. One of my uncles has had it constructed. Earlier the Hanuman shila was lying below a peepal tree. But now there stands a nice temple on the same spot. My uncle and aunt gave me a nice shirt and tee. :-)

I went to Kolkata on Wednesday afternoon. I had an interview scheduled with Wipro the same afternoon at around 3 PM but they cancelled at the last moment. Kolkata surprises me every time I visit it. Everytime I find something new about it. It's a kaleidoscope of colors of a variety of shades and hues. This time was no different. I put up at my uncle's place in Ballygunge. Most of Wednesday was spent at home catching up on sleep. On Thursday, I went out in the morning after breakfast. I visited my Buaji's place first. Spent almost an hour with them and then went shopping. And man! Did I shop or what? I shopped and shopped and shopped and when I stopped I found that my wallet was lighter by 7K. I bought tees, shorts, jeans, kurtas, H/S shirts and unmentionables as well :-)

I met a guy called Bobby in the evening. I knew him from a couple of months and it was nice to meet him finally. We went for a drive in his car and had some ice cream. He then dropped me home. Later in the evening, I went to meet an old school friend - Ronjon! We went to a local CCD and spent some time there. We had a Hilsa festival at home that night. The fish was delicious. Later that night, I chatted with an old acquaintance called Charles. I had met Charles two years ago on one of my trips to Kolkata. He is my friend's friend. Anyways, thankfully, he remembered me and so we decided to meet on Saturday afternoon.

On Friday morning, I again went back to my Buaji's place and got the keys of our flat. The flat has never been used and I wanted to go and visit it once to clean it up! I met this guy called Sarnab the same morning and the meeting left much to be desired. Anyway, my cousin, aunt and me went shopping for a laptop in the afternoon. We finally zeroed on a HP one. My cousin bought it. After that, we went shopping again. My aunt bought me a very nice block printed Kurta from a boutique called Kanishka. Thereafter, I rushed to Salt Lake to the City Centre mall. I went to City Centre for the first time and I was really pleased to see it. Nice crowd, nice shops and nice ambience. I met a college friend over there - Anirban. Spent around half an hour with him and came back home.

On Saturday morning, I went to our flat. It was very dirty nevertheless; has not been visited for more than a year. I cleaned up the place as much as I could. After that, I met Charles nearby. We spent a nice time together having lunch at a restaurant near Gariahat. After that I met Debjyoti, one of my friends in Kolkata. We spent around half and hour together while I shopped again for mishti and an umbrella. I returned home after that. My cousin, aunt and me again went out a little later for some more shopping this time for my cousin. He is a brilliant guy. He has just completed his M.Sc exams and is now going to National Brain Research Institute in Gurgaon for a summer project. Anyway, he had to buy some shirt pieces. So we went shopping for that. While we were shopping one of my other cousins called up. She wanted to meet me before I left. So we hurried back home. We picked her up on the way and reached home. My train was on 2215 at night from Howrah. I had my dinner around 8 PM and thereafter they all accompanied me to the station to see me off. :-)

As I said bye bye to them, I somehow felt a little sad; sad because I was leaving all the fun behind, all my folks behind. But when you come to think of it, it's probably because I visit Kolkata once a year that I like it so much and my folks also make my visits memorable. Had I been there for good then probably life would have made it very difficult for us to even meet up.

I am looking forward to visiting Kolkata once again this year, hopefully during the Pujas. Let's see what's in store in the future! :-)