Friday, November 21, 2008
See that "6am on a bright November morning picture I posted" ? Its the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta (in case any one did not know which in itself is a dumb assumption -everyone would, well, should know that). What maybe some of us may not know is that it costs Rs 4 to enter the Memorial gardens for a constitutional or whatever may take one's fancy to be busy doing there at 6 am on a bright November morning or any time of day or any month for any reason.
Work takes me very often to Calcutta and I stay at this quaint old club on Shakespeare Sarani ( the only road I know on earth named after the Bard - the Bard as in you know who ; not as in how the dear citizen of Calcutta would call a winged friend ) Who were also there by the way ,walking alongside me , enjoying the beauty of the well manicured gardens.
This beautiful, ethereal edifice and its surrounding gardens is just a brisk twenty minute walk away from the Club and it is very difficult to resist the temptation to rush off there for a morning walk. As with Anjeer ice cream, Long Island Ice Tea and other temptations, I do not resist; I simply give in and set off each morning I am there, to join many like minded persons briskly walking around the grand memorial.
So last week when I gave in to temptation I kind of forgot there was this Rs 4 business and all I carried with me were my room keys and my I Pod. Uh uh oh now what? It always pays to be honest so I walked up to the ticket counter , smiled a bright good morning and asked the slightly harassed looking man , " Ticket lena padega na ? " A quick upward glance combined with a vigorous nod and he was back to arranging the coins given by conscientious walkers that morning. I edged closer, putting my best, bright Bombay face forward and said, “Boss, mein to Bombay se ayee hoon aur maloom nahi tha. Kal doongi tho chalega?" Again he looked up about to brush off this intruder of his coin managing ceremonies but maybe my pleading eyes did the trick. He peeled off one bright yellow ticket and waved me away with an actually indulgent smile. Not many would have begged to do this I thought to myself and he must have felt like indulging this earnest request .I hugged my joy at this little victory to myself and went in to pay respects to Victoria. Already my mind was playing the scene that would unfold, inshallah within 24 hours, when I would come with Rs 8 and clear this debt so trustingly given. I was determined to come back the next day and do the Bombay spirit proud. But till then I had a whole hour and the brightest of mornings to revel in. The next day I had to, along with Rs 8 bring the camera too. The eastern morning light in all its glory and the beautiful memorial against the porcelain sky - oh yes I was in the city of joy. Enjoy!!
Ps the next morning it was a wonderful feeling to walk up to the man , hand over two sets of Rs 4 and see recognition and a mildly surprised , happy look of justification of faith randomly given. Now I have let the camera speak .... Also watch this space for what happens on the streets where you live in Calcutta 5 30am onwards.