How I became the ultimate authority on Kolkata is a matter of serendipity. We were informed that Jorasanko is closed on Sundays and open on Mondays. That was incorrect. But it led us on a journey that needs telling. We discovered the truth while were well on our way and had to quickly reroute. Thankfully, the cab we had hailed had an amazing bade chacha in the driver’s seat. He smoked bidi, sipped water from the first plastic bottle ever made, talked shyly and did not spit out the Nobin Chandra rraassooggoollaa (yup, this is how they spell it) that we shared with him.
So, here is what you bongs need to learn next time someone asks what’s there to see in Kolkata. Ask them to hire a cab, take the Vidyasagar Setu to Howrah, drive along the ghats, drive back into Kolkata via the Howrah Bridge, take the left to Posta Market and then see the following:
Finally, they should stop at Nobin Chandra Das shop, order those white cotton balls and spit it back on the guy at the counter. This is one trip that you have to make to see the grandeur of Kolkata; to see history that is not dying a suffocating death but is alive in 3D. These are sights that don’t awe you like a VT station but seep into your veins through slow osmosis.
You look at the giant banyan roots making lazy love to the remnants of magnificent buildings; you follow the crisscrossing tram tracks; and you look at all the people who are like actors on a movie set, too used to the magic around them. You don’t know how to comprehend all that and you push them to the back of your head only to pull out a folder at a later time. The effect will last for days.
I need to go back here on my next trip because there are parts missing in my mental jigsaw. It is not a puzzle but a picture, a picture that you slowly put together, stand back and watch till you lose yourself.
The whole trip costs less than 700 in cab tariff. Just be careful. Choose a drive who is as patient, as immersed in your experience as our dada was.