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Kolkata Reunion - Old City New Places

This was a long planned trip which went through great ups and downs before the plan could be finalized. In fact the planning process in itself can be an independent post in itself.

It all started with a simple catching up meet with Seema on her Hyderabad visit. During a meet at corner sofa of the Lemon Tree hotel where she was staying, the idea of a reunion took birth. We talked about the idea and decided that it seemed to be worth an effort to see if we could take it ahead. Within a week there was a Facebook page up for the reunion and the idea introduced to the group. The response was instantaneous and encouraging. Everyone seemed to second the idea of a get together after almost 7 years. Many of us had met individually sporadically but everyone touching base at a time was something which we had not been able to do until now. So once it was finalized that a reunion was long due and everyone was up for it, the tussle for details started. When where how and who were the questions that needed to be answered and each needed quite some effort to be answered. Well who was kind of obvious – the entire BNR group with Nilu owing to him being a non-resident member of the group! Where was contentious in the start with locations like Ladakh, Goa and some other tourist attractions doing the rounds but an emotionally charged appeal from Richi turned the table towards Kolkata.. And the same appeal answered the how part of the question too..So it was going to be Kolkata. When was something which was the most difficult part. Everyone was busy with their jobs and getting a 3 day window common from everyone’s schedule was not less than a challenge. Many weekends of Feb and March were the contenders and each of them suited someone’s preference. But after a lot of coaxing, requesting and pressuring we got everyone to commit to a date – Feb 18-19-20th!!! Settled then it was…most basic questions answered and it was time to get to nitty-gritty. Well we left that to the people best suited for it… Richi and Seema who were already in Kol and hence it were they who got the job of planning those 3 days of Feb for us and let me put it here itself, they did a brilliant job on that.

As the day approached, Richi and Seema called up everyone to confirm the “participation” and get the travel plans. Once these were settled, Sandy got the accommodation finalized for everyone. And this completed the planning phase of the trip.

For me the trip started on evening of Feb 17th when I flew out from Hyderabad at approximately the same times when Swati left Bangalore and Priti started from Delhi. Sandy was already there for his cousin’s marriage in Kol. So there were we – Richi, Priti, Seema, Swati, Me and Sandy – at the Turf View Railway Guest House BNR at the ring of the midnight. All huddled up in a room with a lot of chatter as there was a lot to catch up with – 7 years in no less a time! And then there had packed aloo parathas and dosas for a late night dinner from Richi’s home. Bakar went till wee hours that night and we finally retired to wake up to bright new morning in Kolkata. A late start to the first day was inevitable owing to late nighter and consequentially a late breakfast at Seema’s place – great homemade food….it was a treat in itself – Pav Bhaji and fried idli!!! On the first day, we started with the Prinsep Ghat – We touched the place and on we started the photo sessions to capture every moment of this great tour we were starting with. Then was the turn of the most important destination of the tour – Our good old school KV Fort Williams. Although most of the teachers from our time were transferred or were not there but visiting school itself was a great feeling in itself- Those stairs, that dice, those labs and those class rooms...being in vicinity of those was enough for us to remember those days of standing in balcony until the teachers came in shouting, reporting others’ samples in chemistry lab, reaching late to post lunch classes from the canteen, running in corridors with gals after guyz [: D] …and on and on…

From there we moved on for some fun at a bowling alley...and it was time well spent with me, Seema, Swati and Priti in close competition and Richi leading all of us [well scoring low had its own incentive in the game :D]. This was followed by lunch at money square mall where we entered in a buffet with no signs of hunger…but still stayed on till we were almost thrown out of the place to ensure we had a Paisa Vasool B). This was followed by a mehendi session for Richi and Swati. That was an end of the late day…well actually not…any late day would and should have a late end and so this had to….The day actually ended with a sumptuous dinner, bonfire and music (well we had a singer amongst us - Sandy) at Richi’s place!!! Sandy took a leave after that to attend his interview next day.

The next day, contrary to the first one, had an early start (a very early start – atleast for me a 6AM wakeup call is very early). But the excitement of getting on a Heritage Tram got everyone out of bed in time to be at the ticket station at 8 but then that was what we thought…The expression on the face of the WB tourism center clerk on hearing the name –“Heritage Tram” told us soon that we had to find an alternative plan (Richi was so close to getting cursed for that!!!)…So what could one think of after an early morning and a “lost” Tram – A Coffee and so we headed to The Coffee House (since 1952 :) … A lot of inquiries and reverses we finally reached the place to realize that we were 10 minutes ahead of its opening time and the caretaker did not mince words in asking us to come later. Well but we did have our coffee and breakfast there. Next stop was the Jain Temple…an awesome work of glass from inside and picturesque maintenance outside. As we were exiting the temple we got a chance to put our hands on a “Dhaab” – Coconut water and we moved on to Tipu Sultan Mosque. Once we got out of there, we were hungry enough to talk about food J and we decided to have a Bengali Lunch and hence next we knew we were all seated at a place called Kwipie. After having a great lunch we moved to Forum for some usual TP…while exiting from there we got a quick look into our futures (at a roadside astrologer) which looked quite similar and yeah we now know for a fact that if some day we all decided to be partners in a business it is sure going to flourish!!

Next on the cards was Victoria Memorial where we had a “tanga” ride. Post the ride we also had a chance to have glimpse of Sharukh and Kajol (well their ancestral versions). That was last destination of the day which ended with another awesome dinner at Seema’s place. After the dinner it was now time for goodbyes and see offs…

Sandy is already in Mumbai by now…..Richi has a site visit with her bosses tomorrow…I have just (before starting with this) completed a deck to be presented in the afternoon….and Priti and Swati have one more day of fun left for them before they carry on to their offices… we will all be busy for now but I am sure none of us are going to forget this weekend any soon…at least not until the next reunion which already has its buzz started!!! And yeah I really wish Manisha and NIlu could have joined us…it would have been much more fun with them on board!! Well I hope they make it to the next one at least ……………

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