After a short hiatus with me off to me cousin’s wedding in Kolkata, I’m back. We had this huge party of people from Delhi going over there and effectively behaving like NRIs about the “…pollution and dust in the city”. We had a few old people and all, so we went / came back by Rajdhani. On your right, you can see why I’m so paranoid. Life keeps on doing these weird things to me, when I don’t necessarily ask for it. I’m not making this up. The second number in the image from top (or bottom) shows my berth number.
Kolkata seems business as usual. People seem to be as lazy as they ever were with ‘places of interest’ always full of picnickers even on workdays. I mean, whole bloody families out for picnic on workdays. That, and the place is incredibly cheap – in both senses of the word. Another curious thing I noticed is that even though the commy bastards win over there all the time, the walls of houses are plastered with ‘vote for us’ messages from Congress / Trinamool Congress. Talk of delusions.
The wedding took in Chandernagore (now called Chandannagar), a small hick town to the north of Kolkata which was once the stronghold of French East India Company. (That should give you an idea of how lame-assed it is because of the lame-assed-ness of French among East India companies.) At some level the town municipal corporation’s attempts to attract tourists is ‘cute’. Like, the ‘Travel’ bit (about how to reach there) which talks of travelling by ferries as exciting water sports! There isn’t much to see there except for a museum on the French East India company where you can see:
- Old newspapers (Shouldn’t these be in the National Archives instead of rotting in open glass cases?)
- Old coins (More or less a few lumps of metal, but still interesting.)
- Old postage stamps (Quite interesting for me, as I used to collect stamps when I was a kid.)
- Bloody spectacles (Literally! Some French guy’s shattered spectacles with blood splatter on it.)
- Old beds (Sleep on them, if nobody’s looking)
- Old furniture (Don’t sit on them, they’ll probably break)
- Old crockery (Might be a good idea to use the dishwasher first.)
- The university graduation certificate of the only lame-ass ‘freedom fighter’ from the town (and that too he didn’t do anything much except get killed).
- Old chemistry lab equipment (I wonder why they still don’t use these in the only school / college the town has. I mean, why bother spending on new items since the French have already left these. Oh right, it’s French. We all hate them, don’t we?)
Smart comments aside, the museum is worth seeing – even the school exhibition type posters made on chart paper that the displays use. Apart from French you’ll also find some stuff from older Indian civilizations. Too bad I couldn’t get pictures since photography wasn’t allowed there. You’ll also come across documents written by Gandhi in his own handwriting there. (Mine’s worse than the Great Man himself!)
photo credit: carfWeather’s quite comfortable for Delhi folk, the kind of temperature you have in Delhi when it’s the beginning of autumn. Yet, you’ll find folk in Kolkata wrapped up in layers of woollens and ALL of them wearing (what they call) ‘monkey caps‘. If terrorists had an iota of intelligence they would have thought of doing something there since they’d be indistinguishable from general public. Then again, there’s nothing worth attacking in Kolkata. When one of my cousins (who was NOT getting married) went out for a jog in the morning wearing a T-shirt, people (through their ‘monkey cap’ slits) stared at him as if he was an alien.
Before coming back dad decided to buy some ‘authentic’ Bengali sweets from the Mother Land. (I suggested that we might as well just buy a few cardboard boxes and fill them with sweets in Delhi rather than lugging it all the way from Kolkata. I think dad was considering it before the stern look from mom.) We went to this sweet shop (which the driver claimed was the ‘biggest’ in town) and bought some stuff. Then, dad paid the shopkeeper with a Rs 500. Now, I’m not making up anything of what follows. The shopkeeper actually stared at the thing, turned it around and consulted with his workers in the shop. And gave it back, because they had never seen a Rs 500 note or heard of it! Ever. (I shudder to think what the poor guy’s state would have been if it was a Rs 1000 note.)
While on the way back to Chandernagore to Kolkata I laughed. Non-stop. For about an hour. I need help. That’s all for now, folks.
PS – I forgot to mention that I had a tough time there, being a vegetarian. I hardly got anything to eat at my cousin’s wedding because the only items on the menu were fish, fish, more fish and lobster. I eventually got UFOs (Unidentified Fried Objects) which the caterers claimed was paneer, but I had to attack those two knives to tear them to pieces. The only ‘good bit’ was that the food wasn’t spicy (I can’t handle spicy). The terrible bit was that over there they put excessive quantities of sugar in every goddamn thing right down from daal to curries. Along with (excessively sweet) puris, I somehow made it through these few days.