From ferry rides to train rides, from broad paved roads to narrow mud roads, from elegant Indian clothes to comfortable western outfits, from intricate pandals to equally intricate architecture, from sizzling hot matka chais to cold matka kulfis, Kolkata was a blissful experience.
From day 1 to day 10, I had witnessed nearly every face of ‘amar Calcutta’. What started off as a simple vacation, ended up as a never forgettable episode. When the ferry touched the port on the other side of the Ganges, I learnt that Kolkata had an entirely different face that I hadn’t seen before. While the streets yet remained bustling with people, I saw wide and well paved roads for the first time. The houses were bigger and better maintained.
The reality of the situation is that Uttarpara, a humble locality that it is, doesn’t have room for development. The little town is brimming with a population it cannot hold. The houses there are all old and are falling apart. The roads are very narrow for cars to pass. Yet, this is where it gets its charm. With houses so closely built to each other, there just isn’t any freed up space for redesigning the town.
Sodepur, unlike Uttarpara, had much better roads. The buildings here were neatly arrayed in rows and the roads were immaculately clean. Moving on to Kolkata main city, we were met with even better houses. The city had tall skyscrapers and several smaller apartments. While there was noticeably lesser pomp about the festivities, we could still feel the harmony of Durga Puja here.
The best place that I visited was Hooghly. The peace and tranquility was like no place I had visited in Kolkata. There was a calm and soothing setting here that made me wish I lived here.
After 8 days of visiting relatives, New Market was the perfect change of scenario for all us ladies. The amount of stalls here were in the thousands. This place catered to all our various needs. There were many toy stalls for children. For the shopaholics, this place was bustling with cheap and affordable clothes, shoes and accessories. Women had a wide range of ethnic and western clothes to choose from. Meanwhile, the young teens had an entire arcade devoted to their kind of clothes. From dressy ballgowns to casual wears and sultry club outfits to flirty girly outfits, EVERYTHING was available here. Even the foodies had an entire street devoted to them. Kulfis, ice creams, chats, momos, shawarmas, kaati rolls, masala dosas, milkshakes and smoothies were found in small food shops. Right next to these were famous places like Barista, KFC, Empire and other places.
The next day we decided the kids needed to have some fun too and took them to Science City. As the name suggests, it was a humongous establishment dedicated to Science. The place was so vast, we took a ropeway to enter the “city”. The ride was worth it because we could see the entire institution from up above. Below us lay an impressive maze garden around which a few buildings were seen with impressive architecture.
Lush greenery surrounded us and in every sense, it was like a nice, pleasant garden. There were many rides like those in an amusement park, but these were related to science. Also, scattered in the maze were several playground equipment.
When we entered the main building, we were in awe of the various illusions that gave its credits to science. Along with these, there was a butterfly enclave and a freshwater aquarium.
With another visit to New Market for the food, we went back to the guest house to pack our bags to get back home.
Boarding the flight, it did not feel like I was going back home, it felt like I was leaving home. This place that I had come to stay in for just a short span of 10 days made me feel so warm and welcome. Everybody is always smiling. I had never seen a sad or troubled person in the duration of my stay. The food here is homely and the sweets heavenly.
Someday, I will go back to Kolkata for this place has etched its name in my heart.