Notes from Kolkata

Thanks to a driver who was keen on showing me the real beauty of Kolkata, I had a tour of the city for about four hours.

* Central Calcutta is a great place indeed. With so many legacy buildings from the British era, the place looks stunningly beautiful.

* Many of the key landmarks of the city – Victoria Memorial, Writer’s Building etc appear grand and great, but one can’t help get the feel that the city stopped growing after 1947.

* Dull looking buildings that hasn’t seen a coat of paint for decades is the norm here rather than exception. With very narrow roads everywhere, traffic pile up is quick but is not as bad as Bengaluru.

* Outer lying areas like Salt Lake city, New City etc appear tidy and planned. Lots of buildings had space for greenery.

* With so much history behind many of the landmarks, the city as such has lots in it to woo the tourists. If one were to take a look around, it has lots in equal measure to drive people away. Garbage and filth are strewn around at every possible place. Yuck!

* Everyone in Kolkata keeps munching one of the rolls all the time. I had one at Park Street and it is certainly the one to die for. If Veg Rolls is one to die for, how would I describe the irresistible ‘Mishti Doi’.

* Trams look to be an integral part of Kolkata’s culture and Kolkatan’s seem to be the one in awe of their culture and heritage. Then, what does it take for them to replace those worn out trams, that seem to be running precariously well past their ‘Best By’ date. With so many people riding on those dilapidated tin boxes, it shouldn’t be that hard to come up with a viable plan to revive them.

* Seems that this bustling metropolis does not have air conditioned buses in their fleet. Not just that, the buses on the roads appear to have been bought when Jyoti Basu was a kid. With trams and buses in such a state, how on earth do they promote people to use public transport?

* Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose airport’s (for a change, an airport / infrastructure project not in the name of someone from the first family) new terminal building is awesome. Very spacious and well planned. Well done AAI.

* I was told that Park Street is one of the happening places to visit and would be nicely lit up during Christmas. Hope I have a reason to visit Kolkata in December.

* I sincerely wish Didi issues a shoot-at-sight order for those throwing garbage in the river. Not to forget the idiots who urinate and poo. What a lovely river and what a mighty let down.

* I have only heard about Kolkatan’s great taste in literature, music, movies etc. I wish I had more time to experience them first hand. Anyways, there is always a next time.

This is as much I could observe and make note during my 8-hour stay in the city that included 4 hours of official work. Signing off from NSC Bose International Airport at City of Joy, while waiting for Air India ka ‘udaan’ that would take me back to Namma Bengaluru.