Searching Shimla


Searching Shimla (15)

It’s that moment in your life when you are about to solve a jigsaw puzzle and realize that the last piece is missing. Exactly the same happened to me when I was writing a blog about a heritage structure in Kolkata with a very important connection to Shimla. That one key piece of information is so critical that my months of hard work would just go in vain. With no immediate plans of visiting Shimla, I put the thought of finishing the blog in the back burner.

One of my friend who happens to be one of my blog fans was travelling to Shimla and he knew my intention thus his trip to Shimla was like a fresh piece of bone to a dog. Immediately I listed down the places that he needs to visit for me while he would be vacationing in Shimla with his family. This was the only opportunity that I had if I had to complete the unfinished blog I would need these photographs.

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That 80’s Goa


That 80s Goa (14)

It was a complete impromptu decision for my family to go on a Goa vacation while we were vacationing at Bangalore (Bengaluru). The year was 1988 and those were the days with no internet, no cable television and very limited telephone connectivity. The plan was impromptu but with the lack of proper information meant that it was heavily dependent on information from friends about the various options. We planned to travel by train but the main problem was that there was no direct connectivity from Bangalore to Goa and we had to change train somewhere in between.

A prospect of bathing in the sea was always a good idea to me and I was looking forward to it. We boarded a train in the evening and were supposed to reach our first halt from where we would catch another train. By the time the train reached this place it was past midnight and we hurriedly got down from the train. Surprisingly our co-passengers who were also travelling to Goa did not even bother to get up just peeped from their bunk to see us scramble all our luggage’s to get down.

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Rajasthan in 7 Days


Rajasthan in 7 Days (62)

It was for the very first time that I was traveling with my family which included our two-year-old daughter on a long trip. To be precise for 7 days we wished to cover Rajasthan as much as possible. Due to our work schedule along 10 – 15 days complete Rajasthan tour was an impossible feat which we cannot even think of so we decided to split our Rajasthan adventure into sections. The biggest chunk of holidays that we the people from Kolkata would normally get is during Durga Puja where the city comes to stand still and the whole city is in a party mood. The streets become choked and the best possible means of transportation would be to use your legs to travel from one place to another. So it’s quite common for people to actually go on a vacation during this period and the same applies to me.

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Japanese Air Raids on Kolkata during WWII


Japanese Bombing of Calcutta (67)

The only person to possibly have witnessed the Japanese bombing of Calcutta (Kolkata) during WWII were my paternal grandparents. I have never seen my maternal grandparents thus never would know their version of the history. My grandmother was a born storyteller, a prolific writer she had the finesse to tell stories and she told it in a way which would surely attract anyone especially a 10-year-old boy which was me. My grandfather was on the other had a man of few words and would be busy in his own world writing diaries and listening to radio something which he continued to do even when cable television had arrived and continued until his death.

Of all the stories that my grandmother would tell me the stories of war would interest me the most. She would tell us about how the windows were all covered up with newspapers to prevent light getting out during an air raid and how the street lights were all covered up from the top so that the lights would not show up skywards. There were also air raid shelters dug up in our locality and all the people would rush to them once the air raid siren would set off.

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When Mirza Ghalib Came To Kolkata


When Ghalib Came To Kolkata

Why are these songs so slow and sound so sad I asked my father, he was listening to the newly purchased double cassette album which was a collection of Ghazals sung by Jagjit Singh. He was so deeply engrossed that he almost missed my question and only on my second attempt did he reply that these were a collection of Ghalib. For years I had imagined Mirza Ghalib to be the one featured on the cassette cover which later when I grew up realized that it was, in reality, the photo of the actor Nasiruddin Shah. Little did I realize that one day I would roam around the streets of old Delhi and Kolkata just to trace Ghalib.

It all started during a recent trip to New Delhi and since I am working with a book retailing company I am privileged to be surrounded by books and literature lovers all the time. My visit to Delhi was nearly after a five-year gap thus there was lot to catch up when meeting old friends and one of them was Vijay Kumar Sharma who has been a regular follower of my blogs and travel tales. During one of our conversations, I had mentioned to him that somewhere I had read that the house of Mirza Ghalib was very near to Connaught Place. Next day he presented me with a book which talked about forgotten heritage places around Delhi and in there was a mention about Ballimaran (Gali Qasim Jan) which was quite near to Chawri Bazar Metro station. This place was just three metro stops from Connaught Place and during a weekend managed to track this place.

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