It was April 2022 and my Great Grandmother had left for her annual Kolkata trip, we dropped her at the airport and on the way back was thinking how Covid has disrupted travel plans and vacationing has completely changed to what my dad calls – “Staycation”. My last flight journey was in 2019 and ever since it’s been only car journeys. In the last week of April my Great grandmother suggested over phone that why don’t I come for a holiday to Kolkata with my mom for a week and all three of us return back together. My little brother Vedhav, still not very travel friendly, would find it difficult to travel, so we decided that I would fly to Kolkata with my dad.
We booked the tickets and I was excited to fly again in a few days. I took my Indigo passport – a kid travelog which Indigo gives to kids on flight and packed my bags. On 4th May we left for Kolkata; it was a Via Chennai flight with a stopover in Chennai airport for around 2 hours. I started reading the safety manual which is kept on the seat back, my daddy started to tell tales of how as a small child as young as 2 years I would reach out to the safety manual and look at it in detail. It was funny. We landed in Chennai airport, and we were hungry and headed to the ID restaurant, it was sambar idli but felt it could have been better. We emplaned to Kolkata and I was all the more excited and the joy of meeting my Great grandmother made me feel very nice and I snoozed a bit. Woke up and found that the flight was being prepared for landing, and got the autographs on my Indigo passport from the cabin crew who were really sweet to me. We collected our bags and were all excited to meet my Great Grandmother – Durga ma who had come to receive us at the airport.
The unique joy of visiting a new city is something I realized in this journey. We drove to the ancestral home “Ma Niketan”, the city felt like watching the movie Piku, sweet shops everywhere, a bit laidback and suddenly a tram coming along chugging its way into the traffic signal jostling for its space, wow, what to say about this beautiful city of Joy which my dad calls “City of Joy”.
We refreshed ourselves and went to the Sai Mandir which was built by my Great Great Grandparents – Captain Ayodhya Rama Devarajulu & Sarojini Devarajulu. After offering prayers, daddy took me to his favorite Chinese restaurant - Attari on Rashbehari avenue (named after the freedom fighter Rashbehari Bose) which was amazing and I fell in love with Chinese food, even vegetarian food tasted so good and I was happy.
Woke up in the morning and Durga ma had ensured that Dayashankar Ji made good sambar and dosa for breakfast, after this we visited the science city. Science city was huge and very educational – saw a show on Evolution of mankind and also the dinosaur section which was a mobile sound and light show with statues of Dinosaurs placed with audible explanation. After a sumptuous meal at China town we went home and rested for a while and ventured into tasting Rasagollas at Gupta brothers. It was spongy and juicy and now I understood why Kolkata is called the sweetest city.
Next morning Varun Gupta, uncle of Gupta brothers, had sent Idli Churmur – an idli preparation which was very different and nice along with Poori Sabzi for breakfast. After this we went on a drive to the two Howrah Bridges and it was structurally very nice. Lunch was at Oh Calcutta, and I tasted some authentic Bengali food which was delicious. Dad’s MBA day friends Trinanjan Uncle, Surobhi Aunty along with their kids Ryan & Shanaya had come home in the evening, played with them and it was very nice meeting dad’s friends. They invited us to their home for lunch on Sunday. Talking about the memorable stories of Durga ma’s childhood in the city I went off to sleep.
Whether Gods and Ma Kali were very kind on us, it was not the usual summer heat and pleasant, so it was easy for us to venture out. We went to Mainland China, Durga Ma wanted me to taste their Dessert which looked quite exotic and something different – Lychee with ice cream with mist coming all-round. She wanted to give me the best experience possible and Durga ma went all out to make my holiday a memorable one. Evening Dad took me on a metro so I got to experience metro rail too, we got off at Park Street station. Dad said let’s have a small walk on Park Street and suddenly we stopped at Flurys, wow what a surprise, Flurys was the iconic patisseries of Kolkata, sampled some goodies and traveled back to Ma Niketan through metro rail. Evening I played with Sayesha who had come home with Smriti Gupta aunty. Sayesha had come home with Smriti Gupta aunty, played with Sayesha and had a very memorable day. Later went for a small walk and was happy to see that Ma Niketan was two houses away from the house of the legendary Bengali intellectual and thinker - Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, and also behind the estate of Rani Rashmoni.
May 8th was the memorial day of my Great Great Grandmother Mrs Sarojini Devarajulu at the second Shirdi Sai Baba temple which she founded in Mukundapur. We went there early in the morning and it was beautifully decorated, a big portrait of my Great Great Grandmother was placed in front below the Sai statue. An abhishekam was performed on the beautiful marble statue of Baba. Kanwal Chopra uncle and other devotees mentioned how they went to Jaipur and collected the statue. Met Siparna Mitra the daughter of Rana Mitra Uncle at the temple. Later Trinanjan uncle came and took me and dad to his place. Surobhi aunty had made a scrumptious lunch and it was truly amazing. Played with Ryan and Shanaya the whole evening and post dinner went to Mukundapur Temple and picked up Durga ma and went back to Ma Niketan. Next day was our flight back home and was a little sad to leave Kolkata.
Morning, we went early to the airport and did our chores, there was a sudden downpour and the flights were not taking off due to rain. Saw Kolkata style rain through the glass in the waiting area. Later after the clouds cleared, we boarded and I was taking off from a beautiful and memorable vacation. Ellappa anna was waiting at the airport to pick us up in Coimbatore. Back home I was greeted by my baby Brother Vedhav and my mom and great grandfather were waiting to see me. After narrating my experiences to my mother and playing with Vedhav a little went to sleep thinking of the City of Joy Kolkata.
Sanjanaa Jaganathan, a budding writer of Verandah Club, is studying 6th grade in Vidhya Niketan Public School, Coimbatore. Her interests include reading, painting and writing.
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