Kolkata sleeps early. So when by chance I met a certain gentleman (whom the local newspaper later reported was a Mr. Poddar) at around 9.00 pm somewhere on the street, we were intrigued by his car.
“It’s a custom made car….” He said. The vehicle was a twin seater with huge wheels resembling a Go-karting sportster. We were amazed at the unusual vehicle. What we didn’t know that he was probably just returning from an exhibition of these jet setting beauties at a prominent mall.
Fast forward to Chetla market. Nestled at the backside of the outrageously priced Alipore Road is this humble settlement on both sides of the road. Gracious local shopkeepers invited me to view their merchandise.
“No, I’m not interested in the fishing nets, but can I stand here and wait for my cab?” They seemed surprisingly courteous.
The road was lined with buses. Tomorrow is Election Day. Cars are moving at snail’s pace. Its takes us 45 minutes to cross a 2 km stretch. Somewhere in a building nearby, a supervisor seems to be giving instructions to party workers in Bengali. A hand cart vendor tries to negotiate the road. A pedestrian tries his luck as well in an attempt to board his bus. Among this chaos, a premium styled Jaguar is also stuck with the same fate. With traffic, it equalizes the rich and the poor. No one furthers faster.
Saturday morning is generally quite lazy. After a few kilometers walk and a cup of beverage, it is more so. Rather than walking back, I decide to take a cab. Saturday morning at 8.00 am is in no way a good time to find a cab easily on Nariman point. Overpriced Merus and Cool cabs line against the street, waiting for an unassuming tourist to step out from Trident. I am in no mood to pay price of a Starbucks coffee for the short commute, so do what comes naturally to many Bombayites; hail a kaali peeli.
Kaali-Peeli , translated : Yellow-Black cab; comes in many versions. Gone are the days of the oversized Ambassador, the linear Fiat; now we see stout Korean brands, most newly bought; zipping past and stopping only if they like where you are going. (!)
So, when I spotted a kaali peeli, I got a bit disheartened.
“The old Fiat!” I sighed and waved to the driver.
He caught my eye and soon trudged down the road with his 1990’s engine roaring while I waited impatiently.
I almost shut my eyes while I mumbled out the destination.
It was just a moment, …then…Blink! Blink!
My seat was a canvas of colour. Bollywood colours and dialogues made me a captive audience.
Then I asked him about the interiors.
( to be continued tomorrow)
Top two pictures: Old Delhi, Red Fort Area at Night. Bottom Left: Turkman Gate, Old Delhi. Bottom right: Emporio Mall, Delhi
After the first impression that I got last week after stepping in Delhi, it took ten days to look at some of the brighter sides.
While the wide roads had distanced people and reassembled them into groups, most of the youth looked exactly the same. Most women had long hair, wearing leggings or slacks with boots.
The metro rail had masses of smartphone totting people, who were extremely warm and cordial. It seemed like a different world underground than what was on the roads above.
While some “sculptures” and “mosaics” apparently made in the name of beautification were horrendous to say the least. (Thats why no pictures here!), but a chance visit to NGMA revealed a better management of art sculptures. (but no camera that day!)
Top: Delhi park on a misty morning. Middle left: foggy journey starts. Middle right: A Red wattled Lapwing goes for a morning walk as well. Bottom: Toll Plaza at Gurgaon at mid day
Weather has dramatically shifted from chilling decembers to killing january and the last I heard, the temperature was 1 deg Celsius. Fog and mist stay for a longer part of the day and most of the night. While Delhi recorded the lowest temperature in 44 yrs, the cold wave has taken over most of North India. As the icy chill cripples my hand, it is an accomplishment to have created this post. Time for central heating of homes!