Friday, 25 January 2013

Friday 25th Burns Night in Kolkata

We discover that our new room faces a night time only building site . We suspect that an illicit additional storey is being added to a place over the road.

Today is dhobi day and we gleefully stuff a sack full of laundry before heading out on the town.
R enjoyed her tram rides so much yesterday that she pleaded for more today. We made our way to the Esplanade transport interchange.  Just like last year we waited in vain for a tram heading north. At least it was a bit cooler this time and the general odour of the tram stop area was tolerable. We did witness a bit of transport jugaad in action.

After an hour we gave up on the trams and headed to the metro for a trip up to MG Road. The wholesale fruit market was pretty well finished for the day but we walked through to Rabindra Sarani, a truly wonderful street with proper shops and pavement stalls where you can buy anything including dried cow pats. There is a section devoted to men who hammer sheet metal in order to make a lot of noise. By way of a by-product they also make metal chests in a range of different sizes.

As we are in India there are also endless refreshment stalls and drinks counters. We watched one young man showing off his skills as a hot milk juggler. When he saw the camera he really turned on the style.
The best thing about Rabindra Sarani is that it has trams and they were around in significant numbers. When we felt that we had walked far enough we took a ride back down to BBD Bagh and strolled around taking in some of the historic buildings.

D's  research project for the day was to visit the Eastern Railways International Tourist Booking facility. Unlike the one in Delhi which resembled a Casualty waiting room at closing time on a Friday night the Kolkata office seemed very relaxed. Within a few minutes a token purchase of a Foreign Tourist Ticket was made. The next step is learning how the refund process works.

We found a cab back to the Fairlawn beer garden where we watched the world go by for an hour. R was scandalised by a group of young Indian girls who were drinking Kingfisher rocket fuel on the table next to us. But come on - it is Friday. We have been chatting on and off to one of the residents - an Indian gentleman who has lived in Sheffield in the UK since 1967.  Today he has been at a very serious reunion lunch at one of the Calcutta clubs.He advises us that tomorrow - Republic Day will be very busy and noisy in the city. How will they spot the difference? It has been quite a warm day so a short siesta seems in order. The Fairlawn team also think that it is summer as the bedspreads have been removed.

After a few zs we hit the streets again. R's Shalwar Kamize man appears to have moved on so we take a turn round Treasure Island, three floors of mainly ladies' clothing. Nothing is deemed suitable so we retire to the 9th floor terrace of the Lindsay Hotel to watch night fall over the city. It was well worth the effort, especially as we were almost on a level with the kites wheeling over the city.

We could have sat there all night but decided to move on to a restaurant that R had spotted on her Kindle Lonely Planet Guide. She particularly liked the comment "The decor is striking and contemporary without being upmarket" . The "celebrated biriyanis" also got a mention and that was the clincher - no sonsie faced chieftain o' the puddin' race for us tonight . We strolled down the lanes and found the unfortunately named Arsalan Restaurant without difficulty. The decor did not disappoint and the place was busy without being crowded. Our policy of not lunching or snacking meant that we were ready for a decent meal and we certainly got that. The total bill came to around £7 and we thoroughly recommend this place next time you are passing.

We walked home via cosmopolitan Park Street but nobody famous spotted us. We rounded off the night with a beer in a Sudder Street 'packers dive where the waiter bore a striking resemblance to Little Richard. An excellent day.

1 comment:

  1. And whilst you suffered so I worked until after 8 and then dragged my sorry self through the slush home. I'm not bitter.