Who says that romance can be found over candlelight dinners, or cosy spots alone?! Romance can be discovered during an eye lock while travelling in busy local trains, while searching for books of your favourite authors in a library or exploring the busiest places of the country and rejoicing over an ice-cola! All you need to do is to look for it, and keep an open mind. 🙂 And plan your weekends too! Because the best of the moments are lived and cherished in Life on Weekends.
Early mornings in Kolkata
I wanted to explore the city, walk through the flower market, enjoy my Kulhad Chai from the Ghats, take a boat ride and meet the rising Sun, and take a long walk in the streets, through the iconic spots of Kolkata. And thus began my morning with Yellow Taxis, infinite photography sessions and braving the humidity with a smiling face.
I had plans to spend my Kolkata trip doing all the touristy things. I guess, I had crazy energy back then. Because I wanted to do everything- dress up, visit Victoria Memorial, College Street, Jorasonko, Eden Gardens, Belur Math and shop for Lal Par, Murshidabadi Sarees, Taant and Tussar, and eat the famous Kathi rolls – all in one day. If I were to repeat this trip, I would probably go for a walk in a loose hoodie/ T-shirt and my night pyjamas with my hair tied up in a messy bun. I would probably visit only one place of the list, and spend the whole day exploring it. I guess, the kind of travel you prefer, changes with the kind of person you become/ are.
The iconic spot of Kolkata: Howrah Bridge
Also known as Rabindra Setu, Howrah Bridge is the essence of India for me – beautiful, generous and busy.
Generous because it’s home to homeless people at night, carries a daily traffic of approximately 100,000 vehicles, more than 150,000 pedestrians – making itself one of the busiest cantilever bridges in the world. And yet it stands tall and strong. Welcoming to one and all. Maintaining its peace and calm.
Busy because it still attracts a lot of traffic. Even at 8 am, I couldn’t be less careful on the bridge as there were speeding vehicles zooming past me every 10 seconds. Buses, taxis, cars, motorcycles- I saw everything. And then I noticed people who were sitting and sleeping on the sidewalk, to balance it out.
Walking on Howrah Bridge: Fine Memories
That morning, I started walking on the sidewalk, trying to figure out if something was indeed peculiar about the cantilever bridge. There were many Yellow taxis crossing the bridge, and the atmosphere was full of humidity and sounds of noisy horns. I must have found a decent spot from where I could observe my surroundings. And I noticed dirt, poverty and helplessness in people who lived on the sidewalk. It’s easy to obsess over it and lose the bigger picture- which is that while there’s a lot going on to my Left on the bride, the scene on my Right was quite pretty and chilled out. I saw boatmen, families eating breakfast and hundreds of vendors selling flowers. I guess, it all comes down to what all you can observe and where do you choose to look. While poverty and inequality are the truths of life especially in a developing nation like ours, it’s important to assess life in its totality. Over the years, I have questioned myself many times over – what did I do differently that I deserve all what I have got, in comparison to the people with limited means that I see and meet during my travels. I lost sleep over it, spent many restless days and lived with that anxiety. I might not have found the perfect answer to the question yet but I have begun to realise – Life is what it is. And it’s unfair, unequal & brutal…but it’s also beautiful, generous and kind! It depends upon what you choose to focus on, mostly.
That morning, I came back to my hotel with so many distinct memories…and even today when I think of Kolkata, I feel happiness and love. Someone rightly named Kolkata as the city of joy.