Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Kolkata - Day 2



Our second day in Kolkata started very early. Since we stayed very near to the Victoria Memorial, we wanted to walk down to it. So did not wait for breakfast in the hotel and set off.
The sun had just risen ... we remembered we were in the east and the day started very early here ... but was still not in its full glory.
The roads were almost empty, save for a few taxis and some other vehicles. We crossed a park that had a huge statue of Indira Gandhi, smiling down. The park was filled with colourful flowers and a fresh green lawn.
Soon we came to the Maidan, lying quiet under the morning haze, waiting for the day to start and the rush of people with it.
And on our left, standing in its full glory in the early morning sun, was the Victoria Memorial.
Early morning sees a lot of people walking on its grounds, but the place is so vast that we did not feel crowded.
I stood right in front of the huge gates and took in the massive structure, while B went to get the tickets.
Since it was very early, the museum was not open.
We took left and started our walk. There was a beautiful breeze and the pond was absolutely stunning.
I took numerous pictures and still did not have my fill .... especially of the fairy on the top from all angles.
Here are a few photographs.




Bathed in the brightness of the early morning sun.





After a good one hour or more of walking around this beautiful structure and the gardens all around it, we were famished.
And so headed for our rendezvous with Flury's.
Stopped a taxi and hopped in. Park street is not very far and I loved the morning breeze from the open windows ... a luxury we don't get in the Ac cars .... as our taxi sped on in the empty streets.

But as they say ... all good things have an end.
Unfortunately for us, it came too soon.
When we entered Flury's, we found it all dark and morose.
One small table and one large table was occupied. Otherwise it looked forlorn and dark.
The old curtains hardly let in any lights. And inspite of three tables being empty near the window, the waiters insisted we share a long table with another couple!
We refused.
So they kept us standing while the other went to confer with the 'manager'.
This 'manager' in a black suit and pant kept looking at us and with a serious face kept gesturing no ... we must share the table.
After a good while, seeing us not relenting he finally walked away. And we took seat.
The waiter, however, was not forgiving enough and showed his grouse by placing ... or throwing with a bang ... our plates of order on our table. :-)

I had ordered the Chicken patties and the Mutton puff.
Both look the same, but there is a difference in the filling and the texture.
The chicken filling was very good and the pastry cover was flaky and perfect. The mutton puff filling had more of bread crumbs than mutton. And was high on spicy garam masala.
I did not like it and left it after two bites.

B settled for a grilled sandwich, which he could not go beyond a bite.
After this bitter experience , we did not want to spoil our beautiful morning further and left as fast as we could.
No, did not have any coffee or tea or anything. Their pastry corner was closed too.
So we returned to the hotel, walking down Russel street.

And found ourselves in front of Russel dhaba.
We both knew at once what to do ... order two cups of steaming hot ealichi chai served in earthen kulhars.
Here is our chai ... perking our morning up again.
Coming back to the hotel, we decided to go explore New Market ... a shopping place that had numerous shops of innumerable things under one roof.
Bathed and all freshened up ... Kolkata, inspite of its waning winter weather, was still sweltering hot to these two Puneites ... we booked an Ola and set off.
I must mention here that Ola cabs have been extremely efficient and a huge help all throughout our trip. Never had to wait for more than 5 minutes anywhere ... even in far away Dakshineswar.

Anyway, we scoured only about small part of New market.
I tried the phuchka right at the entrance .... superb. And shopped to my fill for knitting knick knacks.
Went into Nahoums and sampled some of their wonderful pastries ... B loved their custard pastry and I loved the jam filled ones. Picked up some wonderful ginger biscuits ... for nostalgia's sake.
According to B, Pune has much better pastries and cakes. But to me ... well, I am old fashioned and find it difficult to 'unlove' things that are connected to my childhood.

The crowd and the noise was both exhausting for us. So came out of the market at the other end ... bang in front of Nizam's.
I had to have a roll and have a roll I did. A chicken roll. Was very good.
And then, walking down the street to the main road, we had Aminia looming right in front of us.

B looked at me and I said yes.
I could not leave without a couple of spoonfuls of Aminia's biryani!
So in we went, down we sat and I ordered a Mutton rezala and a biryani.

Both dishes were fantastic.
The rezala had a beautiful flavour of kewra and very light on spice.
The biryani was light and was perfect with the rezala.
Vegetarian B stuck to his Phirni ... which he said was awesome.
It was late afternoon by now.
We had plans for Princep ghat the earlier evening but since we were exhausted, we decided to shift it to the next day.
So we decided to go straight to Princep ghat  and catch the sunset there.
Was hoping to get to ride in the boats too.



Princep ghat has been beautified and there are lots of chairs under the trees to sit. Only, you can't as they are perpetually captured by young couples seeking some privacy from the nosy world.
But the ghat is beautiful and lots of people with families go there. There are police posts too, so the place is safe even during late evenings.
The boat rides are on till 6 o'clock.
There is no ticket counter ... you will have to talk to the majhis or the boatmen and decide the fare and the time.
We did go on a boat. But can't say it is an out of the world experience.
The boatman will not chat with you ... he just lets the boat flow along with the current ... and from under the bridge will maneuver it close to the bank and then will push the ground with the long bamboo to come back to the boarding place.
And all you will get to see is the rotten,dirty and  wet banks of the Ganga and stench will drive you crazy ... if the mosquitos don't first.

It was already dark when we alighted from the boat and suddenly there was a beautiful, cold breeze blowing.
We sat on the steps of the ghat ... along with a number of other people. Families sat and laughed together, a group of friends were cracking jokes and broke into guffaws from time to time, young guys were trying their hands on a new camera, young mothers were busy covering their little ones with sweaters and scarfs.

B went to explore the little railway station right on the ghat, where soothing Rabindra sangeet played in a low volume.
And came back with Ghoti Gorom!
A man sat near the tracks and was selling this.
We munched on it, sitting in the breeze under the huge banyan tree,watching the lights come on one by one on the other side of  the vast Ganga.
B went ans got another one, we loved it so much. The warm and crunchy chanachur with the right amount of onions and green chillies, was divine.

It had been an eventful day and we were exhausted by then.
Slowly, we dragged our feet back to the entrance gate. I looked back and clicked this photo while B booked a cab.

And then near the entrance, we found a phucka wala. His cart displayed proudly that his phuchka was judged the best by Times food awards.
We tried it and indeed ... it was absolutely perfect.
According to B, that was the best phuchka he had in Kolkata.

We were so full that on returning, all we wanted was to have a bath and crash.
After some channel surfing, we gave up all thoughts of dinner and fell into a deep sleep.

Do stay tuned for day 3 ... coming soon.


Kolkata Day - 1 









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