Saturday, January 2, 2016

#91, Metcalfe Street, Calcutta – A Parsi Lane

It is like any other Central Calcutta by-lane, which means lot of unorganized rush to rattle one's movement ahead inside the lane which has found settlement with time. However, this lane just does not stop with the history of European imperialism - it has also been a little Persian Gulf enclave since early twentieth century. Definitely not an ideal Saturday afternoon from November as it does not even allow a hoodie to make one feel a bit stylish – a warm one must say.

One look and you know it is not from any kalkatta heirloom. Though old, still it does not have a dying look, not ready for an expensive bargain (there has not been any dearth of fortune either). Yes, it may feel disenchanted at times – A community, which is dwindling in the labyrinth of rituals’, some term them as ‘Orthodox’, (would be too immature to nail it right here) has seen very small number of visitors in the last few years. Here is a gigantic white wall – a pluralist canvas like arrangement (Hold on to your thought right here, as you may be up for surprises later) which has survived many regular roadside nuisances or is it the effect of periodic white paints.

We stood under an almost impregnable iron caste gate, which has been guarding the ‘Atash Adaran’ (the sacred fire) and the shrine since 1912.  Slightly flabbergasted at the extreme nonchalance of the place; expecting the suburban boy emerging out with the freakiest of pretext while his mother has just slipped into an afternoon siesta. While I was looking for a ‘Wala’ for help, we spotted a ‘charpoy’ on the other side of the iron Gate and a man in all white linen, wearing a round skull-cap (now this got me really confused, is he from the fourteenth or fifteenth generation of the Zoroastrians, those who settled by the west coast of India after they were compelled to flee Persia) almost had to return from the middle of a day dream because of our un-called presence.  Make no mistake – he is Ali Cha Cha – he was not expecting anybody at this time, so was about to re-direct us to some other house at Metcalfe.

He confirmed it to be the Fire temple. It took us no time to understand that our entry would not be a regular one. Thus, we were quick to disengage with Calcutta and told Cha Cha that we have come all the way from ‘Jamshedpur’ and we were doing some kind of research on Fire temple. (Now, why did we think of Jamshedpur when it was never planned – let me say - it is an alliteration of some ubiquitous consonance). Though, Cha Cha did not go inside to get any approval but we had a very calibrated entry, just what you do when the person deliberately stands not facing the door eye-hole. You do not have to take off your shoes as this point – it looked as a waiting area for the visitors, couple of stones on the wall most of them written in Gujarati, one stone commemorates graceful contributions of the community members on the centenary year of this ‘Atash Adaran’. A ‘Cyrus who can be scathing critical on something or anything in the most frivolous way, to another who is heading India’s most trusted conglomerate name; An ‘Irani’ whose first few generations knew more about Persia than any Arab today and the mention of the ‘Seths ‘ all over. (History Byte: Bombay City saw the first group of Parsi Seths moving from Surat right at the start of eighteenth century; Rustam Manock was the first and one of the greatest traders and benefactors of his time).

Cha Cha was playing a perfect helicopter host to us...just as you would always find a Parsi Woman doing it for her 40 plus little ‘Dikra’ (boy). It was definitely a big favour given to us by letting us in now we could not ask too many questions to Cha Cha and the only other person from the temple. (Now when I say the only other person from the temple...Let me tell you that he is the only Parsi available in the temple now and yes he has a long beak nose like all Parsis do. You will not find a Parsi or a Zoroastrian who can’t be identified by his nose. Finally, I found my Wala and he is a Mandwala – his family is known by the name of the place they belong to, not by the work or profession. He was looking at the Television, not sure, whether he was watching it – the channel was playing some dark villainous movie, which had Ranjeet doing what he does best on-screen off course and given the deserted situation Mandwala was the Wadia of his estate – Wadias are the first Landholders in Bombay City by the late seventeen century. Yes- you got it right, it’s the same Wadia which has been setting the mood of the day every morning when you dip your Britannia Marie in that cup of tea; for last many decades and generations; no matter which city you are from but your bedroom linen are always from Bombay dyeing. So here, we had another Wadia scion in the Mandwala who was righteous in not sharing almost anything to a non-Parsi). 

Udvada a small town in Gujarat, it has the oldest Fire temple in India, ‘Atash Behram’ – it is the most sacred fire in Zoroastrian religion. There are nine ‘Atash Behram’ in the world out of which eight are in Western India and one in Central Iran. The first three day ‘Iranshah Udvada Utsav’ has been a stunning success for the community (25-27 Dec 2015) in the august presence of Mr. Ratan Tata (A family name, which is a phenomenon in our country, their legacy in nation and community building, is a subject in it). The Utsav saw Parsis and Zoroastrians congregating in Udvada, from all across the world, fostering it to be the most sacred pilgrimage site.

Cha Cha has been very generous within his capacity; (Like, Thebaw the Burmese king who tried every bit for the people of Mandalay even after he was exiled by the British regime in The Glass Palace, the king is one of the real characters in the novel). We still could manage a photo opportunity with the main shrine in the background, which is house to the sacred fire.
A community, which was hesitantly welcomed by the Hindu ruler of a land, which we identify as Gujarat today has a rich history of assimilation in this country. The last Parsi census says a count of only 69,000 Parsis left in India, does that worry you a bit ...... Yes, our government has taken up an initiative called ‘Jiyo Parsi’ to control the decline in population of the Parsi Zoroastrian community in India.
Let’s hope that the sacred fire is perpetually alight and it also douse anything which is not so pure for this already reformed community at large.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Happy Streets “From the Nocturnal Queen to a Sunshine Park”

After a long simmering night, this street (Park) was quick to break the trance and usher the last Sunday of the first season of Happy Streets. My, first ever morning at Park Street. Have never seen the nocturnal queen this early in the morning, she was brimming with eloquence of freshness, which had no ilk of a lustful Saturday night. Here was a chance to see the “Queen” basking under some natural light until she is caught up by the embroidery of the evening.

“Virginia House” on Russell Street saw some young girls running their lungs out with the game of cricket; the tobacco conglomerate is going to post their revenue for the 4th quarter in a week’s time or so. Bengal Club had some early morning members sipping into the finest Darjeeling tea and was in all praise of the initiative.

Kolkata Police Bagpipers; marched across the queen’s stretch, raising the crescendo to alarm those who are still jostling under white linens. Couple of guitarist “Jammed” with students turned crooners and this being the last Sunday until the next winter, they were Jamming, like there was no tomorrow. For a moment; i thought, the paintings of the Cabaret dancers at “Moulin Rouge” would get infested with life and step out on the street for a morning jig, which has transformed into an Oasis of happiness.

Mc Donald’s had some healthy menu for breakfast, CCD & Barista, got their best “Man” on the steam machine to brew. Flury’s; while it was getting ready for the Easter Sunday, the last Sunday (of Happy Streets, season 1) saw the last rum ball go off the rack in a jiffy.  “Au Bon Pain”, was the food and beverage studio and it offered free walk into the house and promised Jogger’s break - fast to all. A “Peter Cat & Mocambo”, wondering how many of them will stay back for an illustrious Sunday brunch.

Stephen Court tenants applauded for the skating wonders, some amateur artists drooled over enacting the right emotions in front of the auction house. Allen Park crossing was the play house for the toddlers and some of them wasted no time; by scribbling their arrival as the, $# generation.  

 Some leggy lasses, turning it on for the shunted boys on the basket ball court, the badminton court had the maximum draw, people waiting eagerly for their five minute turn, the rolling continues but, on the yoga mats by the end of Camac Street.

This was Park Street on a Sunday morning on the occasion of Happy Streets, some of you were present and some will have to wait till the next season. It was all bright and good, a phenomenal make-over for the nocturnal queen. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

My old hilly days


The smooth drive up through Rohini gave a feeling, of whether the deep-rooted radicalism has bought in some quick overwhelming changes, and how some might seriously debunk my parochial Kurseong mindset of mid 90s. Don’t remember the name just in case it had one, the elevated lane (well elevation surely can’t be a highlight for Kurseong) through the congested bazaar, Baba – remember the Hanuman temple. Thapaa’s Inn – (they were Thapaas’, the senior Thapaa , i mean the oldest among all, his grand kids were my boarding mates; he was around in his mid 70s then,  stout like a mountaineer, ran an authentic Napali Kitchen for his late evening neighbours) has been revamped into a departmental store with no mention of the Thapaas’ for good.

Kurseong is changing; at least i could see some. Chicken flavoured Wai Wai in the plains is not even half, of what it tastes while you boil it with the spring water; does that mean you need to climb all the way up just to hog that one local bowl – hope you will definitely find some better reason to climb up. Didn’t see any eloquent change in the tourist lodge starting from its serene partners to its limited edition coffee shop menu. Baba – Rs, 40-cab drive to Himali and a neutral gear drop down with no extra charges, still we used to search for those old fiat cars as it made our deal much better with just 30. However, i always preferred those long never tiring walks through the weeds making all sorts of peculiar pretexts, in case Baba – decides to take me down town for one last time before i am dragged into that facade fencing for next few months. Those old down – shops has disappeared, so finally Himali managed to fight them all out in the best interest of some dissatisfied boarders. The brown field has been cut short with few dwarf structures, classes for some young kids. The abandoned shed with four walls didn’t look any different, wonder how is it used today. For me it has been fight club for the super seniors, away from all the peeping eyes, you can’t complain of the bruises; then once you convince your girl for a jiffy date under that shade; means you are up for your sultry moment. Tried my hands at wall graffiti with some quick English popular lines like Knock Knock Knockin on heaven’s door, yes it has sheltered and nurtured soo many, in their split upbringing. 

Feb – boarders have not yet returned for a fresh start....met a group, well they represent the super senior bunch at the dormitory, yes its the same 3rd floor dormitory where i was put up as a rookie. Yea the same yellow paint all across, but now they have a LCD; yes believe you me !!! Inside their dormitory and i have been told that they can watch it through the wee hours of the night. Two storied dormi beds are not jumbled up any more, lot of free space in between, just want to believe this is how a super senior dormitory always looked. Went looking for the gigantic bathroom on the 1st floor and all i wanted to see; was pipes oozing with hot water and unceremonious clamour by bunch of Nepali didi(s) with hard scrub in their hands and if you dare give them a tough time, they won’t mind planting couple of raw slaps just when you are left with no cover.  Some of them were curious to know how this place exactly looked during my time, i had piles of things to share, some of them knew Sir Donald, he is no more around the hills gone back to his native Kochi. Sir Donald’s cane did most of the talking; and i was quite a regular customer when it came to his canning. While going around the empty classes, trying hard to recollect my desk, all i realised is i have grow huge in size. Must say this man has not changed and probably won’t in some donkey years to come; Sir Pratap, after few minutes of serious pondering i could again reinstall him as our house teacher, well he was definitely more than a teacher, led the school volley ball team, was nothing less than a tactical coach to the football team and his action with Victoria boys supporters in one of the matches was quite popular in the senior dormi buzz.

Some body from the parlour, told its time for Robi Sir to visit his office in the main building. Yes yes !! the same Robbie Subba our Principal then and now one of the directors of Himali. During my time, he was the gaudy pin up man of Kurseong, eldest son to Major and Mrs. T.B. Subba, the family from Myanmar, which also fought the second world war in Africa. It was one of those heavy Sunday evenings, our School prefect, who looked like a henchman to a dead Egyptian mummy started banging the elongated metal though it was still not time for dinner. Our movements were like rhymes, even a small change in it bought, both frugal joy and prodigal suspicion of fear. We were introduced to a new member in the Subba family; Robbie got hitched with a tall sparkling female, overheard some of the seniors saying; this is the best thing that could have happened with Robbie and for us it was feast time with lots of chicken and rice for dinner. Some of them looked dubious and had too many things to ask in a jiffy; like – do i still remember the oldest dormitory warden, who was the school prefect?? do i know anybody from the school cricket team??? Ok at least you would be knowing this old lady, they say “she knows each and every boarder by face” Come!! “lets see whether she identifies you as a boarder or not.”  

Now he is one of the senior staffs of the administrative office, but i know him as a trying quack of medicine. He had very few varieties at his disposal for us, mostly some generic tabs nearing expiry, he almost tried everything, like for yellow fever, he would start with parcetamol, antibiotic and would continue trying, until the last file of liver tonic was off from the shelf. Now there are some house doctors to diagnose the exact aliment before packing boarders to their guardians. 

Kurseong is yet to have its first ever chain of restaurants or Cafes, don’t think riders would be chasing down with pizza or donut from darj, so local bakeries and irregular local joints are still widely popular among the boarders. Actually i had given up on him, ‘Tin wala Chachaaa’, every afternoon he came down by the sloping lanes and squatted outside the dormitory main gate. It was like those huge army tins, had enough evening snacks for those who could afford to miss dinner. The upper tier of the tin was stuffed with two types of pattie – the ones that had only boiled alooo with little bit of Haldi in it, and the other type - had two proportionate size meat and never in the history of that green tin – a pattie was made which had more than two pieces.

The clamouring crescendo of rain on the vast tin roof – The “HALL” right at the top of the old building; the amateur crust for everything which flourished in day’s light and for so many things which never found its way out from the HALL. The “HALL” hosted all the major and special events – saw the first ever BIOSCOPE series, played entourage to BASSANIO in the court of SHYLOCK; learnt and was caught copying, special classes just before term exam. The “HALL” inevitably has preserved all of it.

This was the longest ever walk down to the town – no hurry to catch the last Canter, did not go for a free –fall transgression rather weighed ever moment, who knows!! When will i come this close again - Yes, i wanted to ask this ‘present’ and tell my friend, that how much i know about ‘him’ from the ’90s’. Just like a fine wriggle line of hair on the upper lip might surprise your parents for the first time but won’t confuse them ever. The dwindling light, just bought one more end, the last oldy left the green bench at the station in stoic silence, the cabbies beneath “Shyaams” persuading the last few passengers with happy hour fare, shutters falling down every minute and i was waiting for the last cup of tea which i was told was a special one.

The denizens of this land of white orchid are flummoxed with their share of change and development; some prefer to stay ignorant from the exchange of words and ideas, as they are higly calibrated for a miniscule section of the town. Whereas; i would love ‘Kurseong’ to hold on to its  ‘90s’ for some more decades to come, until i sound like a beige narcissist. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Magic Of Spring

Like my mom I never complained about the departing winter….every year she is almost in tears while enveloping those warm clothes up there in that dark loft. Spring is the best bait to woo nature even after the greatest showdown; the contour of numbness to life is how I like spring to be defined in the microcosm web of entity. There are endless lines and thoughts personified to excavate the eerie riddle beauty scattered wide across. After an ephemeral winter it’s time for spring panacea to smoothen the rough surfaces.

“Spring is the time of plans and projects” Leo Tolstoy. It’s time to re – group back after an enticing winter. The air around becomes pleasantly moderate removing all plagues of uncertainties, this time you are high on hopes and can dare to see the toughest tangent as your mark for rest of the year. Let the migratory birds overhear your little fancy but very real wish/s on their way back, and if you are lucky it would be dropped at the right point.

You have a content smile because like you last year performance even your financial earnings are in green but friend don’t let that be intimidating. Don’t let it matter if the latter is in red, as you have proportionate time for yield and rearrange the skewed equation and trust me if you can “Spring will never let you slip”.

The first loud whisper of Kokil, don’t really remember when was the last time I saw one in action, but even today just one flash, I am left gazing around Wirless Municipal ground with couple of sloshed stumps, the inevitable try to get back last eve’s tennis ball it that weed of multiple use, jostling over the ground cardinal to push the boundary mark (slippers marking the sideline) and just when we thought that we would save the new tennis ball by the day end, somebody timed it really well.

The season of impromptu freshness to old verses, even the most discolored thing looks somewhat appealing nothing is sordid anymore. Spring is the biggest riddle of life and I just want it be the toughest one as well.

Enjoy Spring in true style…….


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Tram for Calcutta!!

As a pompous bong it has always been Kolkata, but as a true Calcacian…. Calcutta is just irresistible for its unparallel probity of charm. 1880 Calcutta Tram Company Ltd registered in London, horse pulled compartments to Armenian Ghat. Two years later steam locomotives were deployed on the same meter – gauge.  Electrification happened later around 1900. A gift to the colony then now an encomium of heritage. 

Anything imperialistic in use would always mock on the face of acute nationalism.  Perhaps “Calcutta” was the widest red penumbra alive; and “Kolkata” thereby removed all hovering darkness for once.

Prince Dwarkanath Tagore the cultured capitalistic mind had engaged in direct trade with East India Company and undoubtedly he was the gaudy pin up boy of Bengal. He was the desi – flamboyant answer to the whole of occidental class. He had hosted some of the best English parties with full attendance but never dined on the same table with them; as his revered mother almost equated such an act to be blasphemous for the entire clan. The Tagores envisioned liberation in conjugation with complete Swedeshi movement but they also believed strongly on East & West cultural synthesis.

It doesn’t honk crazy it creates an alarming pitch for the pouring traffic and pedestrians, very similar like the Dosa – idli peddler found in south of greater Calcutta. A complete riddle until I saw the motor man tapping his right foot to allow the mechanism down to work.  Out of many notifications I always went guessing with this one “Pls move inside the Car” Are the commuters suppose to move around inside the car??? And in which angle does it look like a Car??....

The motorman stands throughout his shift; shifting the brass gear handle, muffler wrapped around the face and rest clad in khaki is one of those early signs of winter onset in Calcutta. The body of the tram is like a slow moving tabloid minus vulgarity. The halo like fans in the 1st class accentuates the vanity of those erstwhile Bhadraloks, as they still deny giving – up on the dying genre.   The left row in the 1st class with all single seats is clearly an example of pricey seclusion in public medium.  

The Chowringhee marked by the bastion Victoria House for Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation still have business share remnants in Sussex ……the Esplanade Tram Depot links it to all possible corners. Clamoring through the largest second hand book market, book huts on College Street have been pampering Bengali intellect over a small cup of tea at Coffee House for several decades, down the lane  Star Theater once the stable for soft power in Calcutta, 3 Gourmohan Mukherjee Street on the left of one of those single seaters house of Swami Vivekanda blissful and fortifying as ever. Buildings overloaded with time some in shambles awaiting the notice from Kolkata Municipal, wide pavements used and managed by the hawkers’ association; the tram pulls up at a distance from the unvanquished hero now mounted right at the center of 5 point crossing. On the left a dark alley shed for all Shyambazar bound trams ….

Tram is best captured by the terrain of Race Course, Maidan, The Paddock for many Viceroys in Calcutta now the only breathing meadow for the city. Officers from Eastern Army HQ those who still debate on the actual number of deceased in the Black Hole of Calcutta fiercely panting after a drill on Red Road while the Kidderpore bound Tram races by. The 2nd Class conductor with curved shoulders leaning on the footboard rod which has that unusual sheen and smoothness, early chill of winter, rolled monkey cap covering his almost bald crown pulled sidewise leaving the ear lobes, solid frame glasses with a fine hair line crack, a Khaki duty sweater with thick leather patch on the right elbow, a mid size pouch belly resting on the old torso. Last time his service shoes got polished on Independence Day laces tied since then..

Till the first few years of schooling I always thought that there is only one way you can reach Gariahat, (Piccadilly of South Calcutta) 24/29 No Ballygunge bound tram from Tolly… those eerie late announcements from the starter room, quite sure even today they must be using the same old mike with irregular buzz. The first right turn out from the Tolly depo and the electric hanger/ Trolley Pole called in Europe goes for a free swing, means an uncalled halt. A lazy diligent team stationed at Rashbehari crossing managing lines for Ballgunge/Kalighat/Esplanade. Very few know the shed at Kalighat another almost redundant area counting days. The Joka depo which had very less traffic has given up to some other flourishing dream.

Can you discuss Calcutta without the Armenians, they discovered Kalikata before the Raj company came over, the Armenian College still stands as testament of faded glory, the Tollly Nullah with some exquisite rich clubmanship in the name of Tolly Club, Bengal and Calcutta. The Park Street cemetery which is as congested as the street, tomb stones with indelible affluent English names. Dalhousie Square the commercial point of Cal, Lal Dighi, Raj Bhavan’s final bill gave sleepless nights to the Company directors back in London. The Great Eastern hotel now don’t know what!!! Sir, Winston Churchill was put in the house with guest of honor, special to the empress and record says in one of his letters he shared his likings for Calcutta Winters and how vaguely he compared it with London. St.Pauls Cathedral which occupies space in the land of colony but never intimidated with so much non- angelic things.

How is a Chatterjee different from a Chattopadhyay or a Banerjee from Bandopadhyay … well the white alien tongues could never wrap it like we do, so preferred a Jee by the end, so now Calcutta is flooded with authentic Jees. The Bengalis, with their efficacy as Clerkmanship in the Company always enjoyed intellectual reverence from folks, never wanted to soil their hands into trade and commerce; which saw a community from Rajasthan cornering the natives to the outskirts of Calcutta.

Post Calcutta Trams Act 1951 state government took over the management in 1967, around 1970 saw some sections winding up like, Howrah, Nimtala ghat route though we had some extension work around the eighties.   

Why did they choose Calcutta to run tram over a Bombay or Madras!!!!

Have you ever seen a tram conductor running down into squabble with a fellow passenger for change or, gregarious appeal by commuters to run it fast so that they don’t slip in late into office for 3rd consecutive day in the week, did you ever witness a tram set ablaze by the local mob turned goons for some high street mishap, don’t really remember when was the last time I saw a overcrowded tram with people just not able to mange on that wide footboard. City livestock can still interrupt its movement with very little admonishment…….

Must say this machine was built keeping in accord with the formative principal which once drove Calcutta, so the city of joy is incomplete without a joyous tram ride.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Kaash Phool immersed in the divine taal of Dhaak against the matte blue and discolored wobbly masses  inflicts the much awaited Shaarod crescendo across Bengal ……..

School kids now on their way back home would get lost into the regular jigs of the Dhakis……

Weigh your piggy bank till Shaasti… and then break it into multiple pieces of joy……..

Your Ashtami wear still keeps you guessing!!!!

Bookmarking Anandamala Pujobarshiki..A must afternoon read!!!

Kolkata would get divided into a North, Central and South….

Shaarod every year stimulates that dying cultural nerve of Bengal……

Going back to the ancestral portico and reliving those days once again under the de – glam chandelier….

The old Kumor…will slip into a stupefying trance under the flickering flame while giving her eyes…

Aesthetic rendition of Rabindra Sangheet is just the perfect sync for the season….

Homemade sweets like a Naru with Nimki is too good as a starter for the season….

Cute faces but this time much more traditional will pamper your wrenching emotions….

The blissful Devi Pakkha….will wipe away all devilish nuances, so here comes Uma and her much talked about Paribar…

The flavor of Shaarod Utsav remains unvanquished against all odds….

So at the stroke of “4” Bengal’s tryst with Birendra Krishna Bhadra the perfect prelude for the biggest festival of Bengal.


                                                            Subho Mahalaya……O Bodhon!!!!


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hills With Frndz.

Engine no 46608 rolled into rain soaked New Mal station, with no much shelter to dither we headed towards the cab stand.. after little bit of healthy bickering with the cabbie a lad of just 20 something, the Maruti van sprinted and we had to think that there was no tomorrow.  

Thought Rakesh deeply wanted to dive into the vastness of serenity, leaving the eatery joint at Chaalsa Bazar we ferried through some of the unparallel long stints of ever juvenile freshness. Mid September happens to be the best time just after monsoon for Dooars gateway. Lonely chirping over abandoned roads, heavy bushy trees almost falling over. The Queen of Dooars is guarded by two impregnable natural fortresses, (Chapramari and Garumara) the long standing trees by the majestic national highway reiterates that you are far off from the ubiquitous buzz and with receding phone connectivity you are nowhere to be found.
Dhar out of many snaps the one with smoke billowing out is just fav; after few rapid pics again we packed ourselves in the van and this time there was no stopping till Jhaldhaka. Jhallong River Camp, we   hopped out from the van and saw somebody waving at us from the camp, yelling with directions………….. We were standing right across the camp and had Jhaldhaka sweeping everything contemptuously.

Mangal the camp caretaker explained how the make shift bridge which used to be a perfect picturesque element for the camp went missing on a scandalous night. The gaudy red carpet with pristine white bed sheet, attached with an English Loo, and the natural squander palpable from inside but guarded by the camp veil would surely raise cosmic shuttle of thoughts. Had never seen such natural lavishes with so much of leisure where you can only indulge and indulge….the misty aerial trees still pampering overnight slumber. Jhaldhaka River all across was nothing less than a non- scarlet battle strip, water pouring out as if some eternal force up there has decided not to stop weeping and the rock studded agile path mustering in all possible challenges to stop it somewhere down.

 We decided to witness the battle closely, choose one big rock must have been sitting there for some quality years; all 4 of us climbed it, and now it was time for a budget toast, but we left the water bottle back in the camp and now somebody will have to trace back and get it, nobody was ready but can the Toast wait??? unified NO from all 4. So……Dhar as usual jacked up a superb nonchalance way. Why are we waiting for just a bottle when it’s flowing all over. So on the rocks like never before.

After few rapid shots now we wanted to taste the chill and Bhaskar straight away accepted his appointment as the lens man; Dhar,Rakesh and myself  was now hanging in between the voracious flow, holding each other tight and some real balance from Dhar while making those high Chinese potions. Some jaw dropping but awful stripping; we were struck by high voltage; even tried lifting some of the rocks as if they were pebbles. Mangal caretaker came for the 3rd time asking us to climb up for lunch and it was also time for the high tide, means that eternal power will sob like anything. Rakesh bhai yes we left the empty 1 liter bottle down there. Cheers!!!!....

Figure out a scene where the hero of the movie is chased by the cops and its late evening into the forest, and he spots a faint light and a small hut downhill, I am pretty sure Jhallong River Camp would evoke similar look and feel from some uphill. With zero connectivity we were just plugged off from mainstream nature of life.

Next morning was damp, sogginess everywhere.  After checking all possible and could be possible places we decided; said yes to Darj.  Jhallong had every little bit in store but Darj can be planned.

Oodlabari: Since some donkey years I was never told but perhaps my Dadu’s stint with Jessop Company in Oodlabari and his only visit to Burma now Myanmar, always made me wonder and how connected they are, also tried angling Maa as Mongolian several times which she never accepted. Now I was crossing Oodlabari o yes very much part of Dooars……… was elated as if I have grounded in some Phoren exotic destination, hypothetically I strongly feel adulteration is the word which would never find its way to this place. Peerless personification of quintessential touch over Oodlabari.

Planters Club, Remember those hawkers on the way up hill to Mall…..precisely opposite Bata, Weekenders and all, selling larger than life umbrellas, warm clothes, dedicated souvenirs….. now they are off the road, Planters would convert the space into car parking.

Got a room at Bellevue with a small ante – chamber, looping right on Chowraasta facing Kalimpong Emporium.  After a quick round of the mall, seeing off the ponies for the day, peeping into Oxford book store, Nathmulls stands as graceful as ever, Hawa Ghar the cultural point of Darj got a fresh look……….

We had a filling thali lunch at Hasty Tasty…..and it needs no special description as well. Time for flavor filled evening tea in tamed brass pot. I got my cup ready but surely not without some puffs and pies. The articulate dimness with neo – classical décor, the red English telephone booth makes it a café of penchant. (Glenarys). Dhar, Rakesh….Bhaskar …u mind changing party…will u guys stop laughing on the tea ever….. it was on me    ha ha ha ha……..

 In between Rakesh bought his first D&G jacket……from Weekender…the girl in the store just could not stop blushing …… she even tried her charm with luscious Bangla to top – up the bill a bit further…….. but lady that was more than enough… We strolled down till Rink Mall…. Who can guess this??? …… Joey’s looked better…….fresh coat of paint and some remodeling of interiors............. Met Joey’s father behind the bar with his cowboy sideburns, he has not been keeping well of late. An ardent rock guy of his time… with no power the pub was gleaming with candles placed on empty soda bottles…….a English flag pinned up making the pub a perfect collage of some dingy motel in Wolverhampton…..
Last Day: After a much needed long intoxicated night with my 3 AM friends it was time for an authentic English breakfast facing the rich but de- glam clock tower. Kev - serving for more than 100 years now, Santhi  ( working with Kev for more than 40 yrs). Crispy toast anointed with butter, golden brown sausages, some heavy meat loafs, baked omelets and some more toasts. The open terrace area basking under the intermitting rays offers wide view of the mountain range from the left and Planters on the right; you can overlook the whole of Neheru Road. A complete English breakfast is like a brunch which means you need to skip luncheon.  
Every nook and corner of Darj was smelling Baarrrrrffffiiiiiiii……….every scene was cheered by the audience. It was just couple of days after the release and Baarrrrffiiiiiiii had become a small town rage which was spreading fast all across. The skewed twist and turns of Pankhabari Road was like free falling to plane from where we would again start afresh …….and we also start counting from here for the next……..
Dhar, Rakesh, Bhaskar……. Lets Bookmark this new chapter. We will come back Darj.........