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Friday, 11 January 2013

The Magic called Kolkata...

What is with this city..magical, mesmerizing, yes yes there is absolutely nothing to go overboard with any Indian city though my vision of foreign cities is close to nil.For all non residing Bengalis ( probashi bengalis living elsewhere in India).. Kolkata is short of a dream unless may be you actually go and start living in it or may be until you have not seen the other happening cities fledgling in India. Anyway for us the thirty something Bengalis born and brought up in some other state fed on a staple diet of Anandabazar patrika, Anandamelas, Deba Sahiyta Kutir Publications, at times Rabindra sangeets ( which we eventually left for Enid Blyton, Mills and Boons and Hindi film music) and also a literal staple diet of rice and mustard fish ( which also we have grown out of but still can,t do without at times) Kolkata holds what we had missed out in our childhood..an open often embarrassingly loud conversation in Bengali, the most flamboyant Durga Puja to be witnessed, buying Bengali books in College Street at amazing bargains, catch up a movie at Nandan ( which i was able to do with my father once), stroll along Maidan and Esplanade gorging on phuchkas and alu kablis, listen to Bengali music all around..and eat ,eat and eat...from amazing street food to a wide variety of fish, rolls at amazingly happy prices.

This year while our journey towards home in Silchar we stopped for a night and a morning over Kolkata. Just could not have enough of the city. 

Two miniscule cups of tea bought by husband from Durgapur station  @ 3  per cup

Difficult to capture the ' ' minisculity'

The Hotel we stayed in Sudder Street
Lunch was ethereal here

             The Sweets Counter.. They also have a Biryani and Chaap counter on the other side

Before I move on to the next pics..definitely have to stop at this one and marvel. We chose this place to stay so as to have a feel of Kolkata for the little time we would be there..New Market, Park Street, Esplanade all close by . For lunch which was already late by a delayed train... we decided to stop by whatever we could find. Pity we did not click the pic of the menu and the dream that was served. Since my toddler was continuously disturbing we decided on the menu as suggested by the staff. It began with a dish something called Kochu Shaak diye Chingri Much ( Shrimps with some herb i can,t translate), it was probably steamed with mustard paste and a dab of mustard oil. Busy in rebuking and controlling the toddler and attending to my uncle who came to meet us there, i was happy they served me the food... and my..one fistful of food.. and believe me this is no exaggeration..for a while i was out of the world..this is food..i stared blankly at my woman friday, used to sharing these delights with her, ' My God what was this..'  She nodded excitedly..' So tasty'...Next came a heavenly moong dal, bhaapa illish, shol macher jhol with phoolkopi alu ( amazing as well) and a homely kind of kajai macher jhol...by that time me and husband have started exclaiming in enthusiasm. And the best part with the exorbitant illish as one of the orders we ended up paying five hundred fifty in all with these exotic food and a full stomach and more for three persons.
Later i analysed the cuisine might have been Bangladeshi as was written somewhere in their pamphlet so the taste felt so strikingly similar yet different. So much to discover..albeit the stomach conditions. With fully stuffed stomachs we did not dare for the sweet stuff , so i urged husband to get us gurer rashogollas ( brown ones made of jaggery) with the Kati Rolls from park street for dinner. Kati rolls though tasty were hugely oily  and being in Delhi for some years would give more marks to a healthier Rumali  version but again Rashogollas from the same place where we had lunch were....husband simply closed his eyes after sinking his teeth in as his head nodded in uummm.. soft silky stuffed with khoya inside. Huh speak of going overboard with food.

Imagine the rush at a tea shop..near New Market..we tried the tea there with  hot tiny crispy  pakodas with lemon chutney

New Market , Park Street all geared up for Christmas...we loved the time we were there..in full festive spirit

So Bong... Tea.. Coffee..and the quintessential Adda..

Some clicks in the morning

Snuggling for warmth

All these are available right here in the street and we have actually seen foreigners dining here

A wonder price list isn,t it...not to miss the bread and Ghoogni ( Bangla version of Matar)

The Tea cum breakfast joint is a hit with foreigners as well

Flury,s..I have heard the name since i used to come to Kolkata with parents,  seems very popular in old bangla movies as well..if i,m correct Uttam Kumar had tea here in some movie

Again forgot to click the pics of breakfast and the menu as me and husband were as usual tangled in some tiff. We ordered for an English breakfast and me a cheese  mushroom omlettee and coffee. Guess there was some feel of the Raj.. with a breakfast full of sausages , bacon and eggs, hash brown, tomatoes. Just overlooking the price factor... the long windows giving way to Park Street behind, a relaxed Sunday pre Christmas morning not a prompt service but looking by the age of the waiters.. i think some restaurants have retained their old captains and waiters.. i have seen in Moulin Rouge as well .. i haven,t seen waiters of such age in any other city i guess..this is Kolkata. I don't have much idea of European breakfast.. so husband helped me with bacon and eggs and gradually the taste built up into me, sausages were a bit too salty health wise, hash brown was crispy tasty something i heard of for the first time. On the whole i loved the ambiance and later sunk teeth into the soft cheese mushroom omelette with a warm cup of coffee.

I copied this pic from net..this plagiarism is ok i guess..i agree with the writer  the price was exorbitant

May be it isn,t the price always, the feel, a peep into old Kolkata.. the days of the Raj, a leisurely Sunday morning..leaving the sleeping toddler at hotel..the two of us..beginning of  a holiday, magic was gripping into us slowly. I was happy with husband for a pleasant morning, a short stroll, clicking pics of a half asleep Kolkata..and a breakfast at Flury,s. In Delhi we could never wake up early enough  and ' agree' for a breakfast outside.  Though as we just began to fight over the most trivial issue at hand, food was served and as we ate silently, miffed at the taste and ambience, the growing crowd.. only with coffee husband asked me ' What were you saying?' ...By that time i was savouring my cheese mushroom omelette..and for once i couldn,t remember what the war was all about.

The stay wasn,t just long enough.