Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Kolkata - Day 1 .... Boi Mela 2016

Our trip to Kolkata this year was a little sudden. We were planning to go somewhere anyway, but Kolkata and the famous Boi Mela or the Book Fair 2016 won over a choice of Delhi and Agra, Kerala and even  Rajasthan.
I wasn't too keen initially but the promise of staying in the olden parts of the city and exploring them did excite me later.
Since we had a night flight, and that too a hopping one, it was a long and tiring journey. So all we did was, as soon as we had checked in, have a good dinner in the hotel and crash.
The exploring would start the next day.

Next morning we made full use of the complimentary breakfast. There was a good spread of both English as well as Indian food.This was one of the very few five stars where I found the food to be fresh as well as good.
We tucked in to our fill ... it was going to be a long day ... and rounded of with chai, served in these chai glasses.
And then we stepped out into the streets. The dilapidated buildings all around and the crazy traffic welcomed us to the mayhem called Kolkata.

B had kept the first day for the Boi Mela. So off we went.
It was a good thing that we reached early ... it was around 10 at the most. There people around but the place wasn't too crowded. We decided to stroll around first. Then check out the book stalls. And buy last as we wouldn't have to lug the heavy books all around with us.

But seeing the vastness of the place, we decided that it would be foolish to return all the way to the shops to pick up books.
So I started buying and B lugged them in his rucksack.

It was a beautiful day and partly cloudy too. Rabindra sangeet and folk songs wafted in the air in a decent volume.
Complete with a nice breeze all around, the day was perfect.

I will let the photographs speak for themselves.

There were a good deal of food stalls too. Around 2 o'clock we took a break.
I had a fish fry and B settled for Dahi phuchka.

As we reached the far end of the grounds and took a right, we saw a bigger food stall. But only for sweets. There were various kinds of Pithes ... Patishapta was being made right there on an old fashioned unoon , sprinkled generously with notun gur and served hot. There were other kinds of sweets like the Lyangcha, Gaja, Jilipis, Elo Jhelo, Moa, Malpua .... and a lot more.
But what caught our eyes was this Pithe.
The man called it Bhapa pithe and is made from the sticky rice powder.

Here is how he was making them. We ate two of them ... were really very good.

The international book stalls.

Slowly dusk set in.
And my load of books was growing heavier by the minute.
Also, the people had started to pour in from around early evening. All of a sudden the whole place became so crowded that we decided to call it a day.
Seeing the long, long lines in front of most book stalls, I was so glad we started early. I could go through the books at leisure, visit more than one stall, compare prices and discounts and then buy.
Would have been impossible in this crowded jostling.

There was a place set up for some cultural program ... there were chairs too.
We decided to rest a while and give our aching legs some respite.
B picked up some sweets ... the Joynagarer moa, Chanar payesh and another kheer kind of thing ... the name we both have forgotten.

Later had a round of some good tea while we waited for our cab.

Driving through the beautifully lit of streets, we talked about how much Kolkata has changed.
Reaching our hotel, all we wanted to do was crash. But it was only eight in the evening.
So after resting for a while, we set off by foot to explore the nearby streets. I wanted street food for dinner. But B had other plans.

He had found out a gem ... The Russel dhaba on Russel street. So we had dinner there.
A small place, not very exciting to sit in, but the food is absolutely perfect.
The lines of cars standing in front of it were proof enough. People ordered and ate in their cars.

We did not. Were brave enough to go inside, climb the rickety staircase and sit upstairs in wobbling plastic chairs.
Got hot rotis and perfect dhaba style Dal torka, Chicken bhurta and some mixed vegetables.
One of the best meals I have ever had.

 Incidentally, this place is well known for its chai and samosas, but that we will find out tomorrow.

(There is a little something regarding this place here. )

Walking back, I noticed both sides of the street was full of street food sellers. Right from Russel street till the end, up to the start of Park street.
And this is the one street we both fell in love with. All through our stay, we would walk this street in the evenings. Wide roads, footpaths filled with street food vendors, huge banyan trees ... this road was a haven.

More on that later.

Do stay tuned.


  1. সারাদিন বইমেলায় ঘোরা, পিঠে, জয়নগরের মোয়া, ফিশ ফ্রাই... খুব হিংসে করলাম, শর্মিলা। পরের কিস্তির অপেক্ষায় রইলাম।

    1. Tomar hingshe kora ta ekkebare nyajjo Kuntala. Shotti boro bhalo ketechilo din ta.


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