India, Canada · 32 Days · 65 Moments · March 2017

Gordon's 4th voyage to Calcutta, India.

29 April 2017

Hello Bombay: the final stop. Had a 11 hour wait for my flight to Munich so arrangements were made for a young fellow named Chetan, to show me around. And boy, did he open my eyes about Bombay. The Arabian Sea, Marine Drive, and famous Gateway to India Bombay certainly deserves another longer look!

27 April 2017

The sunset at Marine Drive
More enticing photos of Bombay and the home of Shahrukh Khan, Bollywood's most famous actor.
A famous old church and shots of Bombay.

26 April 2017

And so the final countdown begins. Lets ask the question. Has anything changed in 8 years? Have individual attitudes and lifestyles changed? Perhaps that can be construed as a microcosm in a macrocosm. Pragmatically, it is ostentatious to disregard the above. My relationship with these 3 fine young gentlemen as aptly stated by my sister in Regina has grown stronger, the bond is unpenetrable, and as we look into the future, two words can capture the mood of our trip. LIFE'S GOOD. (and a small jaunt to Bombay awaits). Here are some pics of our lovely terrace that we ate food, relaxed and drank beer!!
And so we are on my last full day here in Calcutta. Tomorrow morning i leave for the airport early for my flight at 9:25am to Bombay. There, i have a 10 hour wait for my connecting flight to Munich. We have arranged for a Bombay contact Chetan who will be my companion and show me some parts of Bombay.I woke early, got fresh and noticed that Ganesh was up too.Checked emails etc then i felt a bit sad and via You Tube i watched with great intensity and fervour, videos of the Pet Shop Boys, Amy Winehouse and Frank Sinatra. Today in the afternoon, i shall say goodbye again to my mother's grave, then spend the evening in Park Circus and trace my childhood footsteps for the final time this visit.We shall eat chicken rolls at Zeeshans' and firni, a nice bengali dessert, then back on our open air terrace for a last swig of cold beer and some chips.It is tough for me to say goodbye. I hate goodbye's. Perhaps i should steal the caption from Emerates Airline. HELLO TOMORROW !!!!!

25 April 2017

More of what going on in Dacres Lane!! Calcutta still haunts me in sense that i hear her beckoning for me to return again. 3 times i have been swooned and again her magical web has enchanted me again. How can this congested megalopolis function day to day but it all falls into plan. Like a jigsaw puzzle, it all fits in.
A series of food stalls selling a unique combination of creole cuisine is interspersed by a few somewhat dodgy bar-restaurants, whose fairy lights add some warmth to the narrow and dingy lane. Choose from quick-and-easy bites like paratha (Indian-style flaky bread) and curry, toasted bread with mutton, papaya and carrot stew, vegetable fritters, wok-fried noodles and chicken curry with rice.
The steet vendors of Chowringhee and Raj Bhawan.
Writers Building, Raj Bhawan and St. John's Cathedral. Tried to tour Writers Bldg but it is now is a high security area. The Writers' Building (Bengali: মহাকরণ (Mahakaran)), often shortened to just Writers', is the secretariat building of the State Government of West Bengal in India This originally served as the office for writers of the British East India Company, hence the name. Designed by Thomas Lyon in 1777, the Writers' Building has gone through several extensions over the years. Raj Bhavan is the official residence of the Governor of West Bengal, located in the state' capital city Kolkata. Built in 1803, it was known as Government House in the pre-independence days.
The travelling Home Depot / Dollar Store comes to you!! All on a bicycle!! Need to sharpen knifes or fix a pot handle or minor electrical for your kettle? Well, this guy does it all Jack of all trades??

24 April 2017

Sumit Kumar from Dumka Jharkand. Met Sumit from Jharkhand who came in overnight by bus. Sumit is only coming in for 1 day and will leave tonight for a friend's wedding. Sumit serenaded us with his beautiful singing. We didn't realize how gifted he was and he sang some hindi and english songs.

23 April 2017

Disco Nite with the guys!!! All right, the dancing shoes were on at the Underground, Hotel Hindustan International. The beer was expensive along with the cover charge, however, man was made to dance!!
Some of my favourite photos that i highlighted this trip. These snap shots captured the very essence of life in India, its citizens, all hustling to find their place in the ladder of life, JAI HIND !!!!
More photos of the Indian Botanical Gardens including 2 very interesting reflection shots from a puddle.
The Indian Botanical Gardens are most famous for the Great Banyan Tree,which boasts of having the largest canopy in the world. The gardens were originally founded in 1786 by Colonel Kyd, containing about 12,000 living plants and over two and half million dried plant specimens in the herbarium collected from all over the world Even though the grounds were expansive, the general appearance and organization of the park was disappointing. Poorly maintained and did not deserve to gain the monikker of India's most famous gardens. An ok time waster.

22 April 2017

Dakshineswar Kali Temple is a Hindu temple located in Dakshineswar near Kolkata that was built in 1855. Situated on the eastern bank of the Hooghly River, the presiding deity of the temple is Bhavatarini, an aspect of Kali. The day started with a fine breakfast made by Ganesh before we headed off to the temple. Could not go inside due to a late opening after we had to remove our shoes etc.

21 April 2017

On 31 March 2016, part of the under-construction Vivekananda flyover in the Girish Park neighbourhood of Kolkata, India, collapsed. Twenty seven people were dead and more than 80 were injured in the incident. All of the debris has been cleared but the re-construction has not been swift due to political redtape.
Marble Palace is a palatial nineteenth-century mansion in North Kolkata. It is located at 46, Muktaram Babu Street, Kolkata 700007. It is one of the best-preserved and most elegant houses of nineteenth-century Calcutta. Neoclassical estate built in 1835 & exhibiting varied art.
Finally, we make CONTACT!!!!!! The fine art of gifting!! A few years ago, i received a free watch in the mail from Readers Digest. At that point, i decided to save it for any kid. Today at Burra Bazar, we found such a kid, and from the photos, such a wondrous kid he is.
Drinking a "dab" or coconut in Burra Bazar. The vendor has a knack with his sharpe scythe.
The Spice Route!! Bazar houses many older remnants of buildings of the British era, many of them left to ruin. Also these area is where they wholesale spices.
Keep on Truckin!!!! The trucking and cargo shipping centre of Calcutta here at Burra Bazar. Here various porters carry out the delicate art of balancing weight and girth on their heads. Are they carrying any Aleve?
The Tim Horton's of Burra (big) Bazar. Sorry, he had no jelly donuts!!!!
More street happenings at Burra Bazar and quick view of a small hindu temple.

20 April 2017

Hanglaartherium Restaurant. "Hanglaar" means: the quality of hungryness". Here we had Latcha Paratha, rice,dal, vegetable and chicken dish. Great good, excellent service and four of us filled our stomachs for Rs.870 ($17.40).
Relaxing in the open terrace of our rented flat drinking the beverage of choice, thunda (cold) Beer. This is a nightly routine after we have just showered off the heat and dust from touring Calcutta. Next, its time to hot eat dinner at a nice cosy indian restaurant called Hanglaatherium, just 25 walking steps from our flat.
Science City: Here we spent the later afternoon learning about science and the Indian Space Program with a video and 3D presentation of India's foray into the great beyond!!! (The aerial photos taken by a cable car system called Rope Way)
Can you imagine ice skating in Calcutta in the hot summer? We proceed to an amusement park called EcoPark. Well, they fooled us. Contrary to their website, it was a synthetic plastic surface that was slippery, that myself as an experienced ice skater, had difficulty manoevering. Being good sports however, we decided to break the ice!!!!!
The original Lion Capital. The angle from which this picture has been taken, minus the inverted bell-shaped lotus flower, has been adopted as the National Emblem of India showing the Horse on the left and the Bull on the right of the Ashoka Chakra in the circular base on which the four Indian lions are standing back to back. On the far side there is an Elephant and a Lion. The wheel "Ashoka Chakra" from its base has been placed onto the centre of the National Flag of India. But here's the real scoop. We put our craniums together and discovered that 3 heads are better than 4!!
The Victoria Memorial Hall is one of the most magnificent monuments of not only the city of Calcutta but of India. It was built between between 1906-1921 when it was opened to the public. The VM as i affectionately monikered it, was a great school outing day. This historical icon is one that never tires me.

19 April 2017

Met cousin Victoria, Dennis and their adopted son Donald at their place. Victoria was her usual great hostess serving us snacks and Warsteiner german beer. We had a lovely dinner comprising of rice pulao, chicken and mutton curry and a host of great bengali vegetable dishes. After dinner we had Kheer, an indian desert made from rice. It was served at room temp but better when its chilled. Our old pendulum clock that we had in our Calcutta flat is still going strong and we laughed and joked about it returning to its rightful owner, me.
Chowringhee Rd, the wide connector that hosts many tony buildings and structures. This is where my father and i used to roam after watching soccer and field hockey matches.
The Indian Museum is the largest and oldest museum in India and has rare collections of antiques, armour and ornaments, fossils, skeletons, mummies, and Mughal paintings. It was founded by the Asiatic Society of Bengal in Kolkata, India, in 1814.

18 April 2017

We forgot about the Bandel Cheese but certainly not the sugarcane vendor's wagon. Old technology meets 2017 and the juice is sweet and nutricious.
The New Market. The shopping hub of Calcutta. Remember getting our cakes from Nahoum's??
The great Church that built by the Portuguese in 1599, demolished by the Mughals then re-built in 1633. The grounds are spectacular with CCTV cameras everywhere. We know that Bandel is famous for its smoked circular cheese, however, on the way out we forgot to enquire. Hey, who cut the cheese??!!
Historical Bandel in all her splendour. I used tovremember our school trips or family sunday outings to Bandel. My first time back in 39 years!!
Continuing our Chandenagore visit, lovely shots of street sculptures, yes, real life monkeys, and the Sacred Heart Church. Fr Orson Wells ( named after the great actor) told me great stories of Fr Cowen and Fr Conquo as he was previously there at Christ The King Church at Park Circus.
Can you believe it! St. Joseph's Convent? Could not enter at all and the main front entrance is closed due to painting upgrades. But we still managed to walk around and take in the ambience of the area on the banks of the River Hooghly.
The remainder of stations to Chandernagore. Now my visit is eternal. I have come full circle and don't have to face the massive crowds.
These are the stations that you pass from Calcutta to Chandernagore. Can you recognize any of them? For example, i always wanted to visit Serampore as a kid but never did. Now they have slightly altered the name. I used to play a game when the train left Howrah Station. Used to count all the coconut trees by the score and wondered why they moved so fast in the opposite direction. How uncanny was that? These stations represent significant moments in my life as i used to assist Mummy when she cooked the Pandey Kowswey for the annual St Joseph's fete. We would pack the "dashkeis" tight and i would sit on them if it got too crowded.
Howrah Station on the way to Chandenagore, now renamed Chandannagar. First time ever back at the great old lady and the aging electric trains that still run forever.

17 April 2017

Streets and places of Calcutta
Travelling on the tram is also ultra special. As a student coming home from St. Xavier's School, the tram was my vessel and i was the sailor. Together we would traverse wide swaths of Calcutta in a slow sticatto grinding way, steel on steel and the clutch and jerk of the tramdriver who would occasionally yell out stops in a guttorial tone upon the approving Bell ringing of the conductor. My career choice at 12 years old was to be a Tram driver and to service the run from Behala to Nimtalla. These pictures are taken heading up Dharamtalla St.
And how does Calcuttans get around. Well, bus, tram, auto(rickshaw), rickshaws, the subway(metro) and taxis. But Uber is now the main game in town. Everyone prefer Uber than taxis. And you can pay the driver in cash. Better cars, clean interiors and air conditioned. They use Uber better than us in North America. And they use Ola, an Indian style Uber for Autos. Smart eh? We took a tram and i tried to remember what i did as a young man. And in search of the CESC sub-station on Princep Street where Dad used to work. This sub-station bears huge importance as they received the phone call from the hospital when Mummy died and then they sent the peon to inform Dad about the sad news.
And then the thought of Park Circus entered my mind again. When i saw at Park Court, that corner landmark and Nasiruddin Rd, i changed my mind about never wanting to come back again. What i saw was vibrantcy of life amid the cacophony of street vehicles and the acrid aroma of diesel fuel. Amidst all this confusion and madness, emerges life in the fullest. I want to injest more of this contagion into my system!
Then we ended up going to lunch in Park Circus at Arsalan, a muslim restaurant eating Latcha Paratha and boneless butter chicken. Check out the school kids in uniform which is still highly prevalent in Indian society where education is considered paramount to a good stable life. North American liberal minds have ruined our public education system.
Ah Mullick Bazaar, opposite the cemetery, aptly called " Chor Bazaar " meaning " Robbers Bazaar". Anything that " hot " is found here, but is mainly a tire stop and and auto and bike repair area.
Today i visted Mum's grave at Lower Circular Rd Cemetery. Being my 3rd trip back to Calcutta, i still remember the way to her grave. Walk straight up, left at the water trough, then straight to a large tree and then the grave is to the left. Nicholas Carapiet was buried over mum in 1999. Denis DeSouza allowed that to happen as Nick was a friend of theirs whose family did not have a plot available at the time. It was tough for me and i cried my heart out. I spoke to mum and told her much i still loved her.
We visited Bhowanipur cemetery to pay our respects to Noel's father, Lawrence Williams, who passed away 5 years this Easter. Rest in Peace Lawrence.
Clean and green Calcutta. Away from some Park Circus disaster areas, she perks herself up like going for a manicure and coiffure. Great billboards eat up the vast open vertical space along with nicely coloured buildings and buses and newer model cars.

15 April 2017

Easter Sunday breakfast on our balcony comprising of instant noddles maggie and instant nescafe coffee. The maggies was cooked by Ganesh and i was also deeply engrossed in stimulating chat with Ganesh and reading that amazing book, The Life of Pi. This mornings calm reprive was required after visiting Park Circus and the flat where we lived. Sadly, various graffitti has adorned the stairwell walls. Our flat is now the home of an eye clinic, but nothing has changed. Really! All these years nothing has changed except the tank in the bathroom that we used to swim as kids. The tramdepot is now not being used, instead its the home of the local bus authority. Buses park in front of the old discrepid trams that will probably sit for the next 100 years. The corner of the street is like a bomb zone with 2 corner abandoned dwellings resembling a ghost town. I dont know if i can ever return to see Park Circus again. Not because im not a proud Calcutta wallah.

14 April 2017

Im still calcuttan at heart but it pains so much that the Calcutta i know and my old haunting grounds are not being repaired, or maintained. Rather left to rot and decay. Here is the entrance to our flat Do you remember it? Ironic as it may sound, Calcutta has a new fabulous mall that houses Burberry, Armani and all the high end stores. So many rich people to line their pockets while outside there are those that are starving and homeless.
The huge bus stand under the bridge if the Strand Beckons all overnite travellers for cheap but long, ardous and rock-a-billy ride. And the buses transport various cargo from tires to linen and i'll leave the rest to your imagination!! They only travel at night. These are the Night Stalkers!!
The Strand and Princep Ghat at Sunset! What better to understand the sheer influence of the River Ganges, India's holiest river, but to take a dinghy excursion for 30 minutes. Here, cool river breezes calm the hot tandoori tikka and nans injested earlier. They say once you immerse yourself in this river, you are thoroughly cleansed of all life's challenges and afflictions. I would have done that, however, who packs shampoo for an evening outing?!!!!
Park Street , the Spine of Calcutta!! Check out some of the famous old landmarks!!
Well Saturday evening in Calcutta and trying to find any bar to show BPL Barclay Premier League is like finding a needle in a haystack with this damn Indian Cricket Super League going on of which i have no interest. So Ganesh, my young IT Google expert said to find a bar that had free Wi Fi. Which we did and thanks to, we watched the game live on my ipad mini at a bar called Oasis on Park Street. Tottenham 4 Bournemouth 0. Coys !!

13 April 2017

It's after 8 years...having Halwa Puri HERE IN KOLKATA. A perfect gift from Noel's Friend Azad .....and the Journey Begins...!!!!!

12 April 2017

Yes. We have made it to Bombay, the Gateway of India. Great food and service on Lufthansa Star Alliance. And Warsteiner Lager beer!!! Air Canada should take note. The plane was half empty so it was kind of economy/biz class but smooth flight. Talk about checks and balances ( not those Czechs ). But everywhere is tight security and of course, numerous airport workers walking aimlessly and don't have a clue. Long wait till 6am and not a coffee shop in sight. OMG!!!!

11 April 2017

And thanks to my great sis Belinda Donnelly that has shown me this great website. Belinda, I'm just fascinated reading all your vacation experiences. Keep them going and best health and more travel for you and David
And I here at Toronto International Airport about 35 minutes away from boarding
Hello to all. My long awaited journey to Calcutta is under way. I simply cannot believe I'm at this point. It's going to be hot there, yes, summer in Calcutta, my boyhood city that I still love and cherish so much, of those delicious moments of yesteryear, my quest begins to rediscover and try to trace my footsteps. And I have a pair of comfortable shoes to do that.

29 March 2017

Our rented flat at Lord's More in Calcutta.
More pictures of our rented flat.