City of Joy – Life of P

city of joy, Kolkata

Saudade (n.)

Origin: Portuguese

Definition: A nostalgic longing to be near something/ someone who is distant

The Howrah Bridge in the distance, putting up a show with its lights!

Calcutta, or Kolkata, has always held a place in my heart. I’d traveled to KOL a few times but always for work or when passing by. But, in my heart of hearts, I was always desirous to holiday in the City of Joy to grasp what my longing had been for.

Yes, KOL had been my Saudade.

So, when it was time for me to make a solo expedition, I chose KOL, in spite of questioning looks from family & the disheartening weather forecasts. Thus, here I’m, P, sharing my story of traveling to Calcutta, the business hub of Eastern India.

See the color color color of the sky!

(A detailed account of each day will follow in subsequent blog posts.)

Friday, 22 July 2022 – NCR to Kolkata

A first-class blue sky from my IndiGo flight, a transformed Kolkata airport & a friendly Bharat Taxi cabbie made up the first half of my Day 1. A room with a fantastic view at Fairfield by Marriott & a Chinese meal at Chowman prepped me for a peaceful slumber.

Jagannath Panda’s art for When The Other Stares Back

Evening was all about art at the Kaee Contemporary. It was the opening night for a new exhibition called When The Other Stares Back. In one word, thought – provoking! Noshing on kebabs & biryani followed at The Bridge, Polo Floatel with my cousin SD.

Saturday, 23 July 2022 – Central Kolkata Sightseeing

The day my tryst with rain began. All was sunny till I entered the Saint Paul’s Cathedral. As I sat admiring the stained-glass windows & the memorial engravings, at some point of time, it started raining.

Bougainvilleas adding beauty to an already magnificent structure!

I waited for 30 minutes for the rain to cease but when it didn’t, I made my way in the drizzle to the Victoria Memorial. Irrepressible Subhas, an exhibition on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was ongoing on the ground floor while on the first floor of the Memorial was the Biplobi Bharat Gallery.

Those who know me know that I read every single exhibit but the wealth of information here overwhelmed even someone like me. (Still raining when I stepped out of the Victoria Memorial!)

Kolkata was my one saudade, the other being Flurys. I don’t even remember since when I’ve wanted to visit this iconic café. My wish got fulfilled on this excursion. (& finally, the rain ceased!)

Cola Float at Flurys

Lunch was followed by a solemn, humbling drive to The Mother House of The Missionaries of Charity. How does a person be so selfless? Similar thoughts kept churning in my head as walked later on the Princep Ghat, a promenade on the river Ganges.

With my heart so full, I needed to loosen up & Soul – The Sky Lounge in the Park Street Area provided the perfect spot for this. As the dusk sky turned pink, I reminded myself that maybe we can be both – fun-loving & selfless, & that not all of us can be Mother Teresa, but can try to be good human beings!

Sunday, 24 July 2022 – North Kolkata Sightseeing

Keep walking… On the Howrah Bridge!

What a generous breakfast spread at Kava, the Fairfield restaurant! It set me up for a walking & sightseeing day ahead. First up was the Howrah Bridge. My nemesis, the rain, had begun to fall again in a milder format; that emboldened me to walk the length of the Bridge & feel history exude from its every joint!

Apart from the Victoria Memorial, I’d been quite eager to see the Jorasanko Thakur Bari, the ancestral home of Rabindranath Tagore. My eagerness was fully satiated at this typical Bengali mansion of the older days with its striking green & red colour, & the countless galleries holding invaluable information about the Nobel Laureate.

Some more family time followed with lunch with SD & her parents, my uncle & aunt. I wanted to visit the Science City but the rain had finally dampened my spirit. I wasn’t in a mood for more knowledge – gathering.

Playing catch-up!

I made a brief halt at the Birla Mandir in Ballygunge. I was lucky to be there at the time of the evening aarti.

The rest of the evening was spent at Vertex, the lounge at Fairfield, listening to Pratham Kar, & then at Kava munching on a special Bengali dinner.

Monday, 25 July 2022 – Wrapping Up On A Divine Note

A throng of devotees against a backdrop of the Dakshineswar Mandir

The Goddesses & Swamis wanted me to visit their abodes! The rain took a break & I made a voyage to the Dakshineswar Kali Mandir, a Hindu navratna temple. From there, Alam bhai drove me to the Belur Math, the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math & Ramakrishna Mission.

After the hustle bustle of Dakshineswar Mandir, Belur was an oasis of calm! As soon as I stepped out of the Math & sat in the cab, it began to rain again! Ha ha! I’d planned to visit the Eco Park but had to drop that.

Instead, I headed back to the hotel, packed, made short work of the lunch buffet & checked out. On the way to the airport, I stopped at Mishti Hub to buy Sandesh & Baked Rasgulla. Lounging at the Vistara lounge & then being pampered in the business class brought to an end a fabulous trip!

Why have I made such a brief blog post? 😀 Because I intend to write detailed posts for each of these days. This blog post was to give an overview of how a long weekend KOL trip can be planned.

Stay tuned for more posts on Kolkata, once the premier centre of Indian culture!

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