Monday, March 29, 2010

East India, in good company

K gotto to say this….getting back is n that bad….
Beeen out for 8 days, I’d never done East of India before….
Just gonna quickly make a note of a few things for my own future reference and the benefit of those reading…
Observations that might help people traveling that side of the country…did I say help…now fuck help yeah…
Here goes:
Whoever has not been to the eastern part of India is seriously missing out on loads of shit….When I say that I don mean picturesque scenery and the other overrated jazz associated with traveling. I am talking about people, culture, that collective soul…. Did I say soul ,…now fuck soul… but get the drift…

K so apart from really short similar looking pretty people what does the east have to offer…
Well depends how you look at it…how quickly you look at it …how much of it do you see…k I’m trying to get some serious structure to this writing but am failing miserably…whats new…

K K K…so let me just beef my itenary-

First stop Shillong….
Due to a missed flight got only one night in Shillong as opposed to the planned 2… There isn much to do there apart from sight see and appreciate the simple living people…. So we did that!!
NOTE: when u travel to any part of the country take private cabs, talk to the drivers, they know the city, its part of their job to…In the east, people in this occupation are treated well, like equals, unlike a Delhi where they are well “drivers”, the canine toothed others who’re after your inherited (in the case of most upper middle class delhiites) cash.
Observation: On our way to a particular View Point, saw a few locals stop a car in open space, play peppy local music loud and dance at their picnic…quite a party at 3pm...

NOTE: People there are early to bed early to rise variety (this is the case across the North East).,. so adjust your body clock to school timings for highest productivity.

BTW lost a camera in one of the little taxis (maruti 800s) late at night. NOTE: If you lose something it will not be found, so be careful. Taxis can be reserved (rented by one group) or shared. If they are shared the rent is Rs.10/ride (rate applies across the North East). Little bit of judgment helps but generally people are honest so trust them.

Second stop Darjeeling: Stayed there for 2 nights – Walked around town. Most interesting bit: Went to the Himalyan Mountaineering Institute and museum. Learnt about many successful and not so successful Himalayan expeditions. Got inspired enough to walk 6 kms to do some climbing myself. Very very nice.
Apart from the popular Glenary bakery and restaurant there is this almost secretive drinking hole called Joey’s Pub. A very inconspicuous joint opposite the Inox building.
NOTE: Last orders at most places are 10pm, but if you still haven’t had your dinner, please ask the bar tender (who likes to call himself the accountant) where you could get some grub and you will not sleep hungry or sober.
Also, Darjeeling is right at the centre of the Gorkhaland movement, which is a peaceful(well almost) political movement (started pre independence) to have a separate state for the Gorkha people. The two primary reasons for the movement are :
a) Cultural differences with Bengal
b) Inequitable and unfavorable distribution of the current state’s (West Bengal) resources (mainly cash).
Darjeeling also has the best flee market in East India with casual clothing, shoes and trekking equipment being the most popular products. Also, I stumbled into this music store where I picked three rare rock n roll DVDs. One of them is a critical analysis of The Velvet Underground’s music…let’s c when I’ll be able to watch it now then.

3 Stop – Gangtok- 1 night

Best place for sight seeing and a halt if you are to travel upto the North-west sikkim, something we regrettably could not do because our train tickets for the next day were already booked and you need a special pass (Govt. approved) to travel there. Visited the Tibetology museum, the Buddhist monasteries and the Sikkim flower show. I’m not a flowers kinda guy but those damned orchids, woof.
We stumbled upon this café called Café Live and Loud, which as the name suggests is a live gig joint. And what a live gig we got to be a part of. Most of the band members were from other established bands but came together to play a fabulous set. Met the bassist in the loo. I was too drunk to remember his name. Of the bit I remember, he mentioned he keeps visiting Delhi and apparently they’ve started a Noida School of Rock. Couldn’t get a contact etc cuz I din feel like sounding like the fan and blah. So had a very bad bolognaise and got out in a jiffy as we had to wake up early next morning. Note: In the east look out for the live gigs ;)

Final Stop – Kolkotta – 1 night
My wishlist before reaching Kol:
Watch a Mohun Bagan East Bengal game at Salt lake stadium
Eat Rasagullas
Eat Different varieties of Fish
Pick up an antique watch from the watch street (Radha Bazaar, North Kol)

3 struck out of 4 wasn a bad conversion. Couldn watch the game cuz there wasn any :/ We had a local friend in Kol who himself had come to the city after a bit of a work related hiatus in the Bombays and the Hyderabads. Even he wanted to get re-acquainted with the city so he thot it doubly good to take us around. And he did a bloody good job of it. Knowing Bengali helps. Bengalis carry this serious baggage of being the original Indian intellectuals. They love to talk and usually have a vocabulary to do it well. In some cases though it can be a pain in the ass. Especially when they suddenly switch to Bengali, not realizing that you are not familiar with the rather rasagulla laden language. You can however put 2 and 2 together if your Hindi is good cuz they are very expressive.
Touristy activity: Marble Palace (intriguing), Victoria Memorial (yuk) and the tram (very interesting)
Food for thought and drinks for, well deeper thought: Friend’s place (traditional Bengali), Park street (fish steak), Someplace else (drinks and live Delhi based band,), Peerless Inn(Bengali delicacies), Tantra (the top club in Kol), The Grand(coffee and desert). Forgot my debit card at Some place else and realized I’d done that only when I reached Delhi next afternoon. Called The Park hotel and it is safe with them. Will ask me friend to pick it up.

All in all I had a brilliant East India experience. People are a laidback working class with very clear cultural distinctions across states with Bengal/Kol of course being the most Cosmopolitan (imagine that  ) .

7 comments:

Quintessential! Lost, but yet to be found entity said...

brilliant blog dude, well thanks to u now i can bluff about visiting the eastern india, and liberally sprinkle with anecdotes which r orginally urs but reproduced by me (copyright laws...duh!). too cold..isn't it?

brijesh tripathi said...

excellent write mate...some quotes written over here are certainly going to be used by me in the near future.
Never been to east myself and it still remains a fantasy...will take some pointers from this post.

btw, the secretive drinking place remains a secret no more!sa

Kuber said...

Thanks guys...did i say thanks..fuck that...
but seriously, i din think too much of this one, ....but swear the trip was heartshaped....cheersa

Anonymous said...

That was good stuff boy.

But i feel you didnt justify the Shillong visit. And the institute in Gangtok was 'Nangyal' institute of Tibetology....also did you mention Rumtek???

It looks like it was a good trip and hope many many more to come ;)

Anonymous said...

get gifts for pple back home especially your sister...
hope you know she loves gifts ;)
hehehe interesting blog
keep it up

Kuber said...

hehe...I've got some serious critics in anonymity...
will look at covering more and definitely pack some gifts for people back home...

Shashwat Rai said...

rit dude.. exploring your creative genes huh, nice...