Tuesday, October 31, 2006

KOLKATA WEST INTERNATIONAL CITY

As promised, here are more pictures of Kolkata West from my visit on Sunday. I was just awestruck by the gate. It looks even more impressive with the sunset in the background. You'll also notice that work is on in full swing with huge earth movers working on the landfill.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Sunday Movie

As usual I spent the evening watching one of the movies I had got on saturday night. The plot might be a bit weak, but it's more than made up with the pairs of Mitsubishi's and the American muscle cars packed with NO2. 2 Fast 2 Furious is worth a watch. which just makes me wanna go out and get some more cars and bike flicks, like The Fast & The Furious, Gone In 60 Seconds and Starsky & Hutch.

I've got to get me one of those machines. Maybe a Mitsubishi Lancer EVO VIII

REAL ESTATE BOOM in Kolkata

Kolkata is truly seeing an upswing as far as development goes. Industry is being wooed into the state, IT is entrenched quite firmly now and only growing and with all of this housing is the need of the hour. With the influx of huge business houses and the standard of living moving upwards, the people of Kolkata are also looking at new age homes and are opening up to western lifestyle.

With this boom, real estate is suddenly exploding in terms of the new projects and new areas being developed. When I left Kolkata 12 years back, Salt Lake was far out. Today it's part of the city and the Eastern Metropolitian Bypass, is now the hotbed of the real estate Boom. With two five star hotels, The ITC Sonar Bangla and the Hyatt on this road and several High Rise Apartment buildings already being occupied, EM Bypass is no longer a bypass, but a main thoroughfare connection "old Calcutta" to 'NEW TOWN - Rajarhat". Property rates as I found out are dashing skywards, the same way the buildings are, on a weekly basis.

On Sunday I headed to Rajarhat and was impressed by the Bengal Unitech's site office. if this was the sight of things to come, living here was going to be great. Two projects already sold and the third being offered at Rs. 2750/- per sq. ft. was steep, but then that's what one pays for luxury. From there I headed to KOLKATA WEST INTERNATIONAL CITY located about 10 Km from the Vidyasagar Setu. Wow this was truly something way beyond what i had expected. The huge gates seemed like I was entering some ancient Roman City. Thereafter I went about on a recce of all the various bungalows that were available, from 2 bedrooms upto 4 bedrooms and priced from Rs. 19 lacs upto Rs. 86 Lacs. Man this is going to be the place to live in 5 years hence, if they live upto the promise of what is being shown as the 400 acres mini city.

Chatt Puja

Saturday was quite a boring day at office, yet on the way back we witnessed the millions of people from our neighbouring state, Bihar, who had descended on the streets of Kolkata in all their decorative splendour to head to the River Hooghly for “Chatt Puja”. The drive with five of us burly people squeezed into Jaideep’s car was also quite hilarious, especially Amrit’s attempt at a puppet show with the Dog cushion. The poor doggy’s ears had to be used to shut his eyes and ears because of the level of humour had reached way beyond of his young “years”.


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Anyway later that evening I met with some of the young boys my dad is mentoring. Quite a nice young bunch! They were there to take last minutes tips on conducting the quiz at Army public School. Then I went to meet friend of mine from Delhi who was down on Holiday, and though this would break our tradition of Monday Night Partying, which had become quite the customary day for us to meet up, we decided Oasis on Park Street on a Saturday night would just have to do. So while I waited, I thought of dropping into MUSIC WORLD and pick up a couple of VCDs. Those couple turned out to be more than half a dozen. Man I’m become quite popular at that joint, not to mention Oasis either.

So I finally got a call from Alakananda and headed out to Oasis after paying that wallet-lightening bill at MUSIC WORLD and headed across the road to meet her. Man I’m not buying VCDs for at least another month. We spent the next two or more hours over some great chitchat about being of the marriageable age and how our families had got behind us to find someone and just get it over with.

I got back home, had dinner and watched two movies back-to-back till the wee hours:

1. ICE AGE

2. ICE AGE: The Meltdown

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Kolkata is Crazy about Cricket

Today Jaideep was a bit disappointed and told me I had lost focus on my blog and the essence of the initition was to be Kolkata centric and it had lost that. Well I do agree that was the objective, but after all it’s my blog and about my surroundings and so if my surroundings had temporarily become the wide roads, clean air of Delhi and the wide expanses and high rises of Gurgaon, gues I can’t help but write about them. Besides On my arrival I was glad to be back in Kolkata and it’s hospitality. A special mention of my Cab driver who kept me engaged in conversation all the way from the airport to my house.

Yeah Kolkata is way ahead of a lot of the other cities in a lot of ways as Jaideep and I were discussing on the way to work this morning. A lot of things that have happened here have been taken to other cities. That discussion done, the rest of the day was quite uneventful, except the fact that I came upon a flock of pigeons outside my office during lunch break. Kolkatan’s really like animals and nature I think. Feeding birds is quite a pastime here.

Anyway the high point of the day was exactly at about 6.02 pm on our way back from a gruelling yet productive three hour meeting when I saw a large crowd gathered on the right side of the road kicking up quite a commotion. The thought’s running through my head were, they’ve caught a thief, or there’s some political trouble brewing up, only to find that the people were annoyed that the TV on the wall hadn’t been switched on and the match, India Vs. West Indies was reaching critical mass. I couldn’t help but just stare in awe and capture a couple of pictures of this bizzare incident. Cricket is huge. And so I noticed out side every shop on the short walk back to office. Weary office goers, tired labourers and street urchins crowded up any shop that had a television to catch a glimpse and the latest update on the match.

The TV in the Wall Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Morning Show - The Ant Bully

From the time I arrived back home, Rahul my cousin started pestering me to take him out. I was dead tired in the evening from 4 hectic days in Delhi and decided to call it an early night with the promise of taking him for a movie in the morning. He had been dying to watch “The Fast and the Furious – Tokyo Drift”. So we woke up and got up, got dressed and headed out for the movie at INOX. I had a holiday for Id.

When we reached INOX, I was told that Tokyo Drift had been changed and since I was there I wasn’t going back without watching a movie. So we ended up watching “Ant Bully”. It was a nice animated movie with a nice plot and message saying be nice to animals kind of thing. Effects were great though.

Halfway through the movie I got calls from office telling me it was a working day. Wow! When did that happen? So I rushed to office after the movie, all the while thinking it was some kind of prank my colleagues were pulling on me, but sure enough the holiday had been called off yesterday.

Anyway it was a normal day and without much ado.
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Kolkata Airport is Hi-Tech

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Once back in Good old Kolkata, the temperature announced on landing was 31 degrees. Delhi was already below 20 degrees and plunging daily it seemed. Man what was I going to do with two suitcases full of Jackets and sweaters in Kolkata. Hey Kolkata has aerobridges and we alighted from the aircraft straight into the terminal. Sometimes I think it takes away the excitement of being on a bus steering through all those aircrat parked on the tarmac following all those dotted lines but then this saves so much time.

Once out, I realized that the option of a prepaid taxi was eliminated. I had spent the last of my monies on excess baggage. So I went out of the terminal and tried hailing a cab, which for some reason seemed quite impossible. Then one guy caught me and asked me to follow him to his cab. I did, only to soon realize he was a tout and asked me to she out Rs. 375 for a ride to Park Circus. Are you crazy? I asked him. Then I swore at him in Bengali and unleashed my fiery tongue. Was this guy shattering my beliefs about Kolkata’s public transport? And he was trying to convince me it was according to some bogus chart. Then another guy approached me, and tried to negotiate at Rs. 200 and said he’d take on another passenger. Man I was getting annoyed and I overheard the first guy tell the second not to pursue any further as I could speak Bengali. Hells speak, I corrected his fallacy and gave both of them a piece of my mind.

Then I walked a bit further and though the cabbie was being taunted and harrased and chased by the cops and touts around, he pulled up 50 meters down and I got in. Not to be let off one of the touts came and insisted that he pay Rs. 20 for taking me on board. He settled it at Rs. 10. Wow! What was all this about and then on the ride back home the cabbie unraveled the entire racket that the cops, touts and certain cab guys were running at the airport on unsuspecting passengers. It’s a shame an I am seriously going to take this up with the authorities. Kolkata otherwise is such a great place for transportation. If people get this impression right at the airport I don’t think it’s going to do a world of good for getting business into this state.

I got to Park Circus and paid off the cab and headed up the five floors with bag and baggage all of 32 kgs. Good exercise I guess. The last time it was 57 kgs.

Kolkata Here I come (Back)

Tuseday morning, I got up and headed to the Radio City Office in Okhla as that would be the most convenient place to give to the Taxi guy, as Vinay’s place was a bit hard to explain. I had spent the night at his place and truly appreciated the hospitality right upto the cornflakes for breakfast. How did he know I loved cornflakes and it was my staple diet every morning? Anyway while I waited for the taxi at the office, I caught up with Siddhartha Prasad my friend from college, who happens to work for Radio Mirchi just a couple of buildings away. We chatted over a smoke and I also met with Abhijeet and Abhinendra while I was there. Then I caught my cab and headed to Gurgaon.

On the way there Priyanka messaged me that her show was going to start and I tuned into Fever 104 FM. I was pleasantly surprised that Priyanka sounded so full of life and she had that excitement which was evident in every link that she did. They were short, crisp slick. Way to go girl. Radio needs more RJ’s like you.

Once in Gurgaon, I set about the task of putting my Backpack together and packed in all my stuff. Yeah 1 suitcase, 1 oversized Rucksack and one backpack, I was definitely going to be charged for excess baggage. Anyway we’d see about that. After I had a quick lunch put together by Faye, Parantha’s, anda bhujia, gobi sabji, dal and pickle, we said a short prayer which was customary in my Brother’s house before setting out anywhere and I said my goodbyes and headed down the twenty floors. I was truly going to miss my angel Lavanya.

Anyway I got into the cab and headed to the airport and caught the end of Priyanka’s show. Yes, she was definitely sounding better. By now I was a bit concerned and was wondering why I love cutting things so fine. It was nearing 2pm and my flight’s scheduled departure was 2.45pm. I managed to get into the airport at about 2.10 and as I stood in line for the baggage checking, they announced boarding for my Indigo Flight to Kolkata. But proper management by the ground staff and the quick handling of the passengers got me to the counter for my boarding pass. I put both my suitcase and Rucksack on the weighing scale and the girl at the counter gave me a look indicating I had excess baggage. Well it was 32 kgs and I was aware of that, but I refused to pay, saying that I was a frequent flier on their airline and I had just flown to Delhi a couple of days ago on their airline which she said she was aware of. So after a bit more of a struggle I told her I just had Rs. 300 on my person and if she wanted to charge me excess baggage, that’s all I’d pay. So she charged me for 4 kgs, which worked out to Rs. 280.

All done, I bumped into a friend of mine from Greater Kailash – II, Rahul Kapoor, looking all dapper in his Pilot uniform. Rahul Kapoor was the first officer on my flight. How about that for a co-incidence? I boarded the bus that would take us to our aircraft and as we neared one crossing, that had marked below STOP, LOOK, GO, our driver stopped the bus and I thought to myself, wow these guys really follow the rules, unlike most drivers on Delhi’s roads. Thank god for that, because as these thoughts were going through my mind, a huge Go Air Airbus crossed from in front of us. Phew!!

Anyway boarded and got to seat no 12A, which happened to be the one right next to the emergency exit. So while I was getting settled in one of the hostess’s came to me and enquired whether she could brief me on the execution of the emergency procedure in case the exit had to be engaged. Why not? She was the prettiest girl on board and I listened to her with all the concentration I could muster up. When she finished and asked me if I had understood what had been told and whether I’d volunteer to engage in the procedure in case it was called upon, I said yeas and added that I hope I wouldn’t have to on this or any particular flight. She smiled and went back about her work of assisting other passengers settle in.

The flight was without incident, and I caught up with a few more pages of Red and wrote in my diary about the expenses in Delhi and other stuff I could recall for my blog and landed in Kolkata.

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The Unusual Suspects @ Turquoise Cottage

The unusual suspects were Abhay Tikku, Aditi and gang. Monday night partying. Anyway if you must party on a Monday the party at Turquoise Cottage.

Rock on people and keep the Spirit alive. Posted by Picasa

Whirlwind Monday & Turquoise Cottage

Vinay & Amrit

I managed to fit in quite a hectic schedule on this whirlwind tour of Delhi.

Monday mroning I headed for Delhi, a bit later than I would’ve liked, but all the same the day had started. I picked up my motorcycle from Praveen’s place at Chirag Dilli and headed out towards my bank which was in Okhla. Man this bank work can drive a normal person crazy. I wish I knew the finer nuances of banking. After two incredibly long hours in the bank, I still had no answers and they still hadn’t a clue about the whereabouts of my Gold Debit Card which I had apparently been upgraded to. So with no more cheques left in my cheque book and no ATM Debit Card, I had no way of operating my Account and the money I had in my pocket is what I’d have to make do with for the remainder of my trip. The money in my bank could stay there a couple of more days and I hope earn me some more interest, I hope. While all this was going on and I was waiting for some answers, I witnessed true Dilli culture with several Jaats ensuing into a rowdy argument with the bank teller and then with the Manager with no respect for any of the other customers.

I left bank satisfied with the fact that they were willing to change my communication address and besides I had lots of people to meet and got straight to the business at hand. My next destination was Nehru Place where I met up with Kaushik, Tanmay and Jimmy. After a brief chit chat and reminiscing about Kolkata, I headed out to Khan Market to meet Aishwarya. I was there at 10 past 4 and a short wait later met her in the predetermined meeting point, in the middle lane of the Khan Market near the Nokia Shop. There was no way I was heading back to Kolkata without meeting her. I hadn’t even met her before I left for Kolkata in August.

She still looks as gorgeous as ever and though it’s just been a month and half or thereabouts since I had left Delhi, the fact that I’ve moved to Kolkata just makes the time away seem like an eternity. We headed for the Market Café and climbed up the winding stairs and were received, especially Aishwarya, quite royally.

We got ourselves a table on the terrace and the next hour talking about how our lives were, our parents, my neice, her nephews, my work, her pottery, et al passed by in the blink of an eyelid. I guess like all good things and hour didn’t seem lik an hour and left me with a desire for it to extend, ut I had places to go, things to do, people to meet. We came down the spiral staircase and she showed me “The Mexicans” (a half a dozen jars she had made and that had been purchsed by the establishment to decorate the place. They were Mexicans, because of the lid being shaped like a Mexican hat) displayed in the wall. Our coffee rendezvous was over and as I walked her to her car, we hugged with the promise that we’d meet soon.

I then got on my bike and literally flew back to where I used to live in Delhi, my house in C. R. Park. The Movers & packers were there already and the moment I laned we set about the task of packing. I had actually got all my boxes neatly packed in Cartons and it took not more than 20 minutes for them to be on their way with my stuff. So my computer, bike (bicycle) and bike (motorcycle) were out of the way and would be in my possession in less than a week in Kolkata.

I briefly met my landlord, not so much my landlord as much as my adopted guardians in Delhi and got to the business of a matter long overdue with him. So while I told him I had another prior engaement for a brief 20 minutes or so after which I’d come back, he allowed me a grace of an hour on learning that I was meeting a young lady for coffee.

I got an auto and headed to Greater Kailash - II Masjid Moth. And just as I was alighting from the auto I met Mehak and her friend (forgive me if I don’t remember his name, because he left immediately after and the fact that his name was a bit complicated. Parent’s should be considerate towards their newborns who have no say in the names they get and which stay with them for life. Please keep them simple.). Mehak herself was looking as lovely and charming as ever, but for a few pounds she had gathered. Success can do that. And she’s going to kill me for this too. But I shouldn’t be talking as I myself having gathered a couple of extra inches around the mid section. Yeah we told each other we’d have to hit the gym soon.

While we sat at Café Coffee Day and chatted and caught up on what was happening and mostly about my previous place of emplyment and the good old days at Radio City 91 FM, Delhi, I got a call from Amit & Abhishek (we were a buddies from our college days and were by some heavenly coincidence in Delhi this Diwali. Amit had moved to Mumbai, and Abhishek to Chicago) and they had already reached my place. So I asked them to join me at Café Coffee Day. On arrival though they did seem a bit hesitant to interrupt my rendezvous with a gorgeous young lady but I insisted and we spent the next half hour enaged in catching up with each other. Mehak’s friend came back and we guys took our leave and headed back to my place to set out on the plan at hand.

We were welcomed by Uncle (Dr. Sen my landlord) and got straight down to a couple of large ones. 12 Year Old Chivas Regal. The evening was turning out to be quite entertainging and Aunty kept us chmping on some fabulous “Shami Kebabs”.

By 9.30 pm we were off to good old Turquoise Cottage. The trip would be incomplete without a pit stop at my usual watering hole. I met the usual suspects and some unusual ones there too. Amrit, Vinay and Anjan were already there and had got a headstart. My brother and Sheldon arrived shortly after. Wow I even bumped into Shorbo, and why wouldn’t I, I thought to myself, the guy is one of the pillars of the place. The guys gave us a 20% discount on our bill just because I was there and they had missed me, I guess.

After a rollicking time and laughetr like never before over Amrit’s antics, it was time to head home. I escorted Amrit & Vinay as they didn’t know the way and after dropping Amrit at the guest house, headed to Vinay’s place in Kalkaji and spent the night there.
Sheldon - my biker buddy and chef par excellence
Anjan (Malcom - Tipping Point) Roy Rajdeep (My Brother) Posted by Picasa

Beer & Mutton Korma - Sheldon the Chef

I finally met Sheldon on Sunday Night and though he lived close by, my busy schedule made it a bit tough. So he came over late in the evening and after chatting at my brother's place, I went with him to his house to meet his mom. It would be outright harakiri not to visit Aunty if I had come all the way to Delhi and moreover if I was staying Gurgaon.

We tipdoed into the house, but after going into the kitchen did manage to wake her up. Which I was glad for and I got to meet her and she was happy too.

Then we went upto his room and had a couple of beers, which he keeps stocked in his fridge. Attaboy. Good thinking. Then, seeing the orange gravy and the chunks of meat, I couldn't resist the Mutton Korma and rice that Sheldon had prepared and had a good feast. I must admit, I've always enjoyed this chap's cooking. He ought to open a resturant soon. We guys then spent some more time chatting and finally we got in the car and headed back to my Brother's place.

I clicked this pick when I got back from his place, realising that I my blog didn't have too many pictures of me. Posted by Picasa

Upa Uncle's Visit

Though I had met Upa Uncle in Kolkata, before he headed out on his even more hectic tour of India, we met up in Delhi at my brother's place on Sunday after he had visited Chennai & Bangkok.

We picked him up from his cousin's place in Vasant Kunj in the morning and we spent most of the morning chatting and him telling us about Canada and his life there and how India had changed.

We had a great lunch or Biryani and Butter Chicken and headed out to Mayur Vihar.

The Drive from Gurgaon through AIIMS and India Gate and over the Nizammudin Bridge really impressed him on how the city landscape had changed since his last visit many years ago and how India had become quite worlds class. All it needed to do as the next step was to eliminate the dust and the corruption and we were ready to be among the leading countries in the world. Posted by Picasa

More Diwali Pics

Abhishek signing off the diwali Cracker bursting with the final gulp of Limca.
DT Mega Mall on the way back
Regency Park - I, with Richmond in the background
Another shot of the same. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 23, 2006

Diwali

Yesterday was the festival of lights and what better way to celebrate it than being in the city that celebrates it with such fervour. The buildings were outlined with strings of lights, the deep blue sky was being being illuminated with rockets breaking into sparking flowers of light and the streets were lit with lightbulbs the colours of the rainblow.

We went down from our 20th floor aprtment to the 17th floor visiting one of Faye's friends for the Puja and then went down into the car park to start the festivities adding to the already noisy, illuminated envirnment with all the other revelers. well not before I had popped one king size "Boondi ka Laddu" into my mouth.

Well aremed with a sugar high, I set about the task of lighting the "Phuljaris" and used them to set a few "Anar" and "Chakris" to excite the couple of kids hanging around. The fountain of sparkles into the air and the spinning wheel of fire on the ground were being thoroughly enjoyed the kids that had accumulated around from various apartment blocks, only taking the attention away every time a loud cracker went off in the background.

A short while later we were off to Delhi to a friends place to celebrate Diwali. By the time we got there the party was in full swing, with rockets being launched, atom bombs being set off blinding everybody and of course shattering our eardrums. Kaustubh & Preeti are the true organised Puja celebrators, if there were such a thing. Cut-to-Cut celebrations. Nothing left to the unknown. I realised this from my Pandal Hopping in Kolkata during Durga Puja.

7 pm they had started bursting crackers. we got there by 9pm. Ofcourse it was great fun with great hospitality. Especially the two boys - Chikoo & Peeku (I hope I haven't got the names wrong. Lads forgive me or correct me if so) who were in the thick of the action. It seemed like a war campaing and we were the armoured corp. Projectile after prjectile was launched into the sky and each one that exploded hundreds of feet above us in the sky brought a smile to our faces, like happy soldiers who had painstakingly worked out the co-ordinates and hit the target bang on. We carrie don till we ran out of ammunition, which was just a bit past 10pm. by this time the elders (read married and boring people) had gone done in preparation for the victory feast of our campaign on the terrace. We guys did one last recce, salvaged an atom bomb and that last deafening blast was the victory dance.

We came down washed up and like vetereans back from our "Tour of Duty" filled our plates with the monstrous pieces of Tandoori Chicken, Korma and Naans. The chickens here are definitely better fed than the ones in Kolkata. After dinner , while the others were eating, I kept a couple of two year olds at bay while their parents were eating. The next half an our in the room, locked with the children took the life out of me, but what a pleasure it was. I wish I was a Kindergarden teacher. It was either making them fly, or jump, or dance or even pretend to sleep and I must admit "Mothers have full time jobs, don't believe anything otherwise".

At 11pm Kaustubh was ready to head out to the Kali Badi for the Kali Puja. Like I said. Cut-to-Cut. We guys headed back home to Gurgaon. Once back. I was again amazed at the lights and couldn't help but capture a couple of more pictures.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Green City, Clean City: Dilli


Last night after a near heart in my mouth situation on VIP road where I got stalled in a traffic jam and was cursing myself on not having taken the Rajarhat Highway. Anyway made it to the airport in the nick of time and checked in my bagage and headed straight to board the aircraft.

IndiGo gets 5 Stars on my travel plans. This is the second time I'm travelling on the brand new Airbus A320 aircraft that they are using which are impeccable. The landings and take offs are without incident. I used to hate that thud of the wheels making contact on landing when I've flown other airlines. Not IndiGo. The Cabin Crew are very prim and proper and most of them quite pleasant to look at. Isn't it always a welcome sight to have a pretty girl attending to you or even if not attending to you, but you knowing that she is there to attend to you. Well not that I'm one for too much attention. If I'm not fast asleep (and alot of my colleagues envy me for that), then I'm glued to the window, or else like this time around, glued to a book.

Anyway landing at Delhi and as I stepped out while one of the flight attendants threw me a cute smile, I stopped on the Stairs and took a deep long breath, filling my lungs with the clean autumn air of Delhi. This city is definitely pollution free.

While driving back to my brother's place and noticing how fast work was progressing in the NCR on Malls, Buildings, flyovers et al, I noticed this city is nearly devout of pollution. No honking on the roads. How about that. In Kolkata that would be considered a handicap in your driving abilities.

Anway the city was lit up for Diwali and we stayed up till 3 am chatting before realising that we had a long day ahead of us.