We had got 2 rooms for us. Myself and Kartik were sleeping in one room while CSK sir was sleeping in another. I woke up around 6 am and started preparing for the next destination which was Kolkata.
I completed my morning chores and taking a bath was the most satisfying thing knowing that I had slept the previous night without it as it was the most ‘sweatiest’ day for us.
I started packing the stuff which I had taken out, back into my saddle bags. Kartik was still sleeping and I think CSK sir had woken up and was doing the same. That was my assumption and I thought of not disturbing him. I went outside and checked my bike. She was all perfect and ready for today’s journey.
I caught hold of the guest house care-taker and requested him to serve tea for all three of us. I first started with cleaning and lubing the chain of my bike and orienting the bike so that I could load the luggage onto it.
In the meantime, CSK sir too came outside with all his belongings and Kartik was also getting started when I went back to the room to check.
The time was around 6:45 am. The night before, we had decided to leave early around 7 am.
Shashi too came to see us off and around 7:30 am we started our trip. Our next immediate stop was the famous ‘Phallo Market’ for its ‘Rossogullas’. In fact, the previous night, when we had ‘Rossogullas’ along with dinner, they were brought from the same market, the market which we were going to pass now soon.
I had also planned to do some shopping in the city the day before but, due to the bike issue, all planning went haywire. We were not going to miss ‘Phallo market’ since it was some 8-10 kms ahead of Bhubaneshwar city and close to highway on the way towards Kolkata.
At around 9 am we stopped for breakfast and tea at a road side stall just after toll plaza. The breakfast was quite unique with its menu. We had south Indian styled ‘Wada’ along with ‘white peas’ subji. We finished it with tea at the end and then moved ahead.
By now, my ‘Bum’ had started to ache a little due to it being in constant touch with the sides of the seat and so I used the DECATHLON pillow( real use is to rest your head) as a cushion. Thanks to CSK sir for offering me the pillow. It was instant relief for the ‘BUM’. I felt like I was literally riding on air.
The roads were really good and we were not having any king of trouble. Also, the distance to be covered was manageable considering the amount of time we had for the day. But, there was an flip side to this.
We had to reach Kolkata city early as it was Durja Pooja time. A big festival for the Bengali people. And today was the day when the Durga idols were going to be placed in the pandals erected for them. I phoned my local friends to get an idea about the situation in the city and they too told to make it to the city as early as possible before the traffic starts to pile up.
Meanwhile, after driving for quite some time we stopped for lunch when we entered into West Bengal and tried our hands on our first ever Bengali menu.
After the lunch, we made it quick since we had put a mental target of reaching the city before 5 p.m. and for that we had to put considerable amount of kilometers under the wheel without taking break.
Also, with the help of my friends we were able to book a hotel for us through the GOIBIBO. We booked this hotel (https://www.google.com/maps/place/Hotel+Arya+Internationalemail@example.com,88.3514292,18.03z/data=!4m8!3m7!1s0x0:0x153192b53e3aee47!5m2!4m1!1i2!8m2!3d22.5370734!4d88.3524682) located in Bhowanipore area.
We chose to avoid going in the centre of the city and instead booked one which was just on the outskirts and better for us when would we leave the city afterwards.
I wanted to take a halt before we reached the city as I had to buy the pillow which I was using. I had managed to locate a DECATHLON shop and to my luck it was right besides the highway and right on our route towards the city. To save time, I sped up and tried to reach the shop and get done with the shopping before these 2 people arrived.
I managed to find the same pillow which I was using and rushed back to the parking lot. CSK sir and Kartik had just arrived. We took a small break there before pushing ahead.
After that, we set our maps to the hotel location and without halting anywhere decided to reach the destination as early as possible. Half way along the route, the mobile battery charger started behaving abruptly. It was not able to charge my phone which was low on battery. The other 2 people were not using navigation and were dependent on me. I was worried that my phone could go off before we reach the place and then we would get scrambled and will need to look for directions by taking the help of the people.
We passed Howrah and then finally entered the city by passing a large suspended bridge (I think it was the Vidyasagar Setu ). We had tried to stop to take a photo but the traffic was too much. Comparatively less than what we were expecting. On our West, we could see the Sun going down beautifully on the horizon.
We were about to reach our destination and we could already get the Durga Pooja vibes. There were decorations all around and with music blaring from the speakers. Finally, I had my eyes on the famous Yellow taxis of Kolkata. Now, I felt, we were in REAL Kolkata. The city of Joy, as they proudly say.
We were comfortably able to find the hotel before my phone could die. We checked into the hotel and as usual we had taken 2 rooms for us. We already knew what our rest of the day plan was and so we all got fresh as early as possible and decided to head out. After all, it was Durga Pooja time. And this being the biggest festival for the bongs, it was long pending in my wish-list to explore. I dont know whether it was my luck or my trip dates coincided with the Durga Pooja time. Earlier, before planning the trip dates, I was unaware that I would get such a sweet by-product from it.
The city, being new to me, I had to call my local friend Simranjeet. We had met in Jan in Udaipur during a annual bikers festival meet. He told me to explore the nearby Durga pandals around our hotel and we followed him blindly. I was in constant touch with him since the morning as I had shared my live location with him. He wanted to meet me and he was already present at the location of our hotel, but, only some hours before we had reached. We decided to meet later in night and he too was busy with his schedule as he was a Radio Jockey and had a long list of programs to be run during the following night.
As per the info given to us by Simran, we explored the nearby places and stumbled upon these beautifully decorated Durga pandals.
Following that, we visited other nearby pandals and got a glimpse of the architecture of each one of them. I heard that all the pandals have their own unique design and none of them are similar to each other. Also, to take it to a level higher, each year the design/theme is different. So, you can pretty much imagine, how much would be the variety available for you to see!
Truly, each and every pandal was worth visiting.
Later on, we went on to meet one of my another friend Nivia, who heads the ‘Bikerni’ Kolkata chapter. She had recently opened up a cafe and invited us to the place. The cafe goes by the name ‘CAFE JVN’. Due to the ongoing Durga pooja, it was tough for us to find a cab and after many cancellations by the driver himself, we got lucky to get one for our self !
We ate some sandwiches there which were really tasty and I would definitely recommend this cafe if you by any chance happen to drop in Kolkata city. The location of the cafe is in Behala. They have some really unique menus.
So, at around 1am we left the cafe and decided to head back to our hotel for a good sleep. It had been a long day for us and we really needed some rest. Tomorrow, it was a rest day for us as we had planned to take a day off in Kolkata. It was as per original plan. But, we still had to wake up early as we wanted to visit the famous ‘Howrah’ bridge early in the morning during sunrise and before it got too crowded for us.