Year end travel of 2016 was combined with personal work. I was also thrilled about this travel as I was traveling to the eastern part of India during winters after many years. I remembered about the December days and wished to experience them. We started our journey on the 3rd week of December 2016. I had already booked the tickets on Yeshwantpur – Howrah AC express and avoided the dynamic pricing which was introduced. This train seems to be same as Duronto with similar colour and departs from Yeshwantpur at the same time at 11.15 AM. However, when I booked the ticket Duronto was not written. It takes 29 hours to complete the journey to Howrah if on right time. Arrival time at Howrah railway station is 4.15 PM. However, the train reached the platform at 4.30 PM. This train typically comes on the new section of Howrah station. From the platform hired a porter for Rs 100 who helped us reach the parking lot for private vehicles like Ola. Traveling from Howrah station we first saw the majestic Howrah bridge. Evening hours are normally pick hours and in older parts of Kolkata it is heavy traffic jam time. On the way also saw the flyover whose portion came down in the month of April 2016. The flyover is incomplete and work is suspended now. Driving under that flyover was little anxious. To reach our destination Rajarhat, it almost took about an hour. While traveling in the Ola cab, I noticed little change. Heritage light lamps has been installed on most roads and the lamp stand is decorated with blue & white led lights. On a flyover the railings were also decorated with blue & white led lights. From VIP road onwards the decorations increased 3 fold. Important junctions had been decorated with lights and santa dolls. It was a beautiful sight to view. The city of joy was on a festive mood. At around 7.30 PM we reached Rajarhat.
Next day morning we had went for some shopping to Priya Gopal Bishoyi at MG road. This is one of the best shop to buy sarees in Kolkata. Returned home in the afternoon and an authentic Bengali lunch was waiting. It was a feast in terms of food and sweets. Lunch and dinner consisted of fishes like prawn, Parshe, Bhetki, Tangra, biryani and a chilly chicken specially cooked by my uncle. In the evening went to City Center mall 2 at Rajarhat. There I purchased an ethnic canvas shoe at Khadims store. They have some good collection of formal and ethnic stuffs. Looks like they sell online as well now. Following this it was some munching time. Along with uncle, we headed to KFC. I advised uncle to have Nashville chicken and I went for Zinger burger with extra cheese. This time it was not that cold in Kolkata but do calls for a blanket for sleeping.
Next day it was about my search for Bandhgala. In the afternoon after lunch we headed to Gariahat. I used Ola cabs for most of our travels in Kolkata. I looked for Bandhgala there at Manyavar, Shahenshah, Adi Punjabi, Prapti etc but could not find the design I was looking for. At Prapti I liked a jute wash coat. After trying it looked little loose and the the shops offered to alter it. As I was leaving for Nabadwip the next day, I left the wash coat with the shop and they said they will send the product after alteration to their shop at City Center 2. Also, we looked for saree there at Gauranga Bastralaya, Kalamandir Saree Emporium, Dhakeshwari Bastralaya etc but could not choose one. From there we went to Lindsey street store of Manyavar. It is said to be their biggest store in Kolkata. But due to pipe designs alternations are not possible which was a deal breaker. It was a day before Christmas and there were huge crowd in Dharmatala / New Market area. We moved further and went to a Raymond store opposite New Market. First I checked out the ready made section but not to my likings. Finally thought of stitching one and wanted to gather more info. In decided to remain in the range of Rs 15k to 20k. I liked one material with some texture. I was leaving for Nabadwip the next day and for Bangalore on 28th morning so delivery was a concern. The salesman assured that he will take the measurement now and he will keep it ready. When I come back to Kolkata on 27th December, he will give me a trail and if required he will do the alterations on that day within a couple of hours. But poundered on little bit and decided not to pursue it as it looked to close. While coming back we took a tour inside New Market. My Uncle said earlier it was the largest market in Asia and there is hardly anything one cannot find here. He shown one cake shop offers various kind of cakes and some unique cakes. People stand in queue or book days in advance to buy from this shop. Outside also saw the oldest unit of Aminia.
Next day we booked a Scorpio for Rs 3000 and headed for Nabadwip after lunch. It was an amazing journey through rural and the paddy fields of Bengal. Four laning work on the road which I saw two years ago still shows no sign of completion. Overtaking on this two way road at times looks scary. After going to my maternal uncle’s house one of the first thing I did was going to shop in Hari Sabha para and buy Samosa, Gujia and sweet gur fry. Sweets of Nabadwip for very tasty and economical. We had lot of tasks to oversee and needed to be accomplished within our short duration of stay. Another thing which I absolutely love in nabadwip is the Red curd. This days it can be found from a store near Boral ghat. I bought around 2 kg for Rs 250. My mom wanted to take bath in river Ganga, so visited the ghat with her. It is always a pleasure to visit the ghat. While leaving Nabadwip we decided to take the local train. We planned to board the 3.30 PM Katwa – Howrah local. After we reached the Nabadwip dham station, we found it was packed with people. As per the ticket, the journey had to commence within 1 hour. I was expecting huge rush in the train and was thinking a hired vehicle would have been better. After boarding the train it was crowded for sometime but started to lighten up after few station. Around an hour later, we get seats. Then onwards it was fine. Ticket cost for two on local train is Rs 50 and a hired vehicle will be around Rs 2000. See the savings! On the local I heard songs being played. First I heard it is being played from a station. But I could still hear it when the train was moving. Then I realised that it was being played from the train itself and that it is a new service of the Indian Railways called Rail Radio.
After reaching Howrah station went to the pre-paid taxi counter but it had a long queue. So decided to book an Ola cab. I have noticed that Ola charges little higher than pre-paid taxis. On 27th evening I wanted to watch Dangal at Inox, City Center 2. But it was kind of late by the time we reached Rajarhat, so we decided to skip it that evening. That night my uncle had prepared chilly chicken which was so nicely prepared and garnished that I had asked why did you purchased it. Awesome taste! Next day morning we had our train Duronto scheduled to leave from Howrah station new section at 10.55 AM. In the morning we left home at 9 AM on a Ola cab and luckily reached Howrah station within 45 minutes. It was time to say Good bye Kolkata, see you again. On reaching Banglore, we alighted at KR puram railway station. Normally Duronto do not give stoppage at KR Puram station, it could have been a signal issue. Now Hello Bangalore! It always feels awesome to be back in Bangalore.