The Bong girl (i.e. me) visited her matribhoomi (as per my relatives. Sigh! that is India for you. Our states are our homelands not the country) after 12 years. I was actually looking forward to the trip as I have started liking visiting different places 🙂 I made Dad promise to take me out roaming in Kolkata atleast one day during our 5 day trip. Otherwise our schedule was just full of meeting friends and relatives. So here is an account of my trip.
# Day 1 – 13th Aug :- Mumbai Howrah Mail reaches Howrah at 5.50 am as per Indian Railways. But the moment it entered Howrah’s nearby region, there was no line clearance and the train started moving at snail’s pace. We reached at 8.30 am!! 👿 Then there was the long queue at the prepaid taxi booth. (If you don’t go by prepaid, the taxi drivers will fleece you).
That is a view of the red building of Howrah Station and The Howrah Bridge
Then we went on our way to my maternal uncle’s home in Salt Lake. The first thing I noticed that there were no traffic jams..there was heavy traffic but no jams for long durations which used to get me queasy 12 yrs ago and used to make me vomit in taxi cab due to the smell of diesel all around. Or maybe I was lucky? Some familiar views were still present even after a supposed ban.
I am talking about the infamous hand pulled rickshaws of Kolkata. Kolkata is the last city on earth to use enormous Chinese-style rickshaws pulled by men on foot. The rickshaws were introduced in the 19th century by Chinese traders and the British made it a legal form of transportation in 1919. The Communist government of West Bengal—concerned about its image as it positions Kolkata as a technology hub—placed a ban on the human-powered vehicles in late 2006. Yet one can see these rickshaws still very much present in the suburbs of Kolkata. Here is a National Geographic article on the same.:- India’s Rickshaws
Salt Lake is a wonderful area of Kolkata…It reminds me of IITK in Kanpur..Seems a totally different place from the rest of the dirty, dusty,brown and congested city. Maternal uncle’s home was a madhouse. My rant on that would make another long post. My cousin sister has the rudest, most arrogant and most spoilt kids you and I have ever seen in life. There is just so much unhappiness in that house.
Later in the afternoon we went to meet some relatives at Shodepur. Kolkata unlike Mumbai has lots of space to expand and new areas like Rajarhaat are coming up. The roads have definitely improved too. But the weather is as humid as ever. 😦
All of us were to go to see a prospective bride’s home (for my cousin brother) for final talk. It was a strange feeling to be on the “ladke wale” side i.e. on the groom’s side. The poor girl came and sat while her in laws to be watched her like hawks, scrutinizing her from head to toe. She must have been feeling like she is under a microscope. More rant about arranged marriages on some other post. 🙂
After that we proceeded to do some shopping and came back to the chaos.
To my horror I discovered that GPRS wasn’t working in Kolkata!! 😦 I was in a state of panic. But after playing around with settings, I was finally able to connect on the next day.
# Day 2 – Aug 14 :- My parents and I went to visit another family at Barasat. In the interior areas of the suburbs of Kolkata, people have a transportation called – Van. Actually it is a sort of rickshaw with a flat cart as the seat. Sadly I couldn’t take a pic of it. 😦 People look funny riding that!! 🙂
It was late evening by the time we came back. Went to bed early as I knew that the next day was going to be a long one.