I am lying in my second AC bunk on Howrah Puri Express enroute to Bhubaneswar from Kolkata. We arrived in Kolkata early this morning from New Jalpaiguri, returning from our visit to Gangtok. Mandal-da, my uncle’s driver was waiting at Sealdha station and took us to my uncle’s flat in the Queen’s Mansions, Park Street. We had gupchup for breakfast and then lounged around till 11.00 am. Then Padmaja and I were driven to Gariahat by Mandal-da. It was hot, humid and sunny and decided to leave the kids behind.
Gariahat was kind of deserted. At least I don’t remember it being so empty of shoppers. Maybe because it was a Sunday morning and the housewives were at home. I was of course rather disappointed. A lost opportunity. Bengali girls are rather good looking and like all men, I too look Sad. Maybe next time.
Padmaja was not her usual self too. We hardly did any shopping, only about 800 rupees. Well, what can I say? Women are strange. Champing at the bit to get to Gariahat and when you take them there they hardly buy anything! Or maybe it was my sighs for the missing Bengali Girls. I haven’t a clue.
We went back home about 1.00 pm to lunch and a afternoon nap. I woke up at about 6 pm to find myself sweating and only one the three ceiling fans working. And it wasn’t doing much more than stir the hot & humid air. I lay there for some time gathering the resolve to expend energy to move and generate more body heat. When I finally did, cursing whoever had switched off the other two ceiling fans, Padmaja walked in and told me that there was a power failure and the fans / lights were running on an inverter. I immediately started sweating a bit more
Anyway we had dropped the plan of taking the kids to see Victoria’s Memorial as they were still sleeping. I woke them up and we joined my uncle and aunt for a cup of tea. We sat around chatting for an hour or so, waiting for the power to be restored before realizing that the power failure was a big one. Maybe equipment failure of some sort. Padmaja and I decided to complete our packing while the inverter still held out. My aunt was putting together dinner, chapattis, fish finger, fish in mustard sauce, okra fry, sweets etc. A typical Odiya dinner with three or more curries and plenty of sweets.
The inverter failed while we were at dinner and we finished by candle light. By 9.10 pm we were ready to leave. Mandal-da was waiting with the car and drove us to Howrah station in little over 20 minutes (Park Street to Howrah). Our train was to start from platform number 22, one of the new platforms that have car parking right next to the platform. Also the coach numbers were displayed even though the the train was not in place yet. That helped Mandal-da park the car right next to our coach’s expected position.
The train arrived soon after and we boarded. For this, the shortest journey in our Summer of ‘09 Odyssey, we had a coupe to ourselves. If only we had similar berths on the trip from Hyderabad to Kolkata last weekend!
We will arrive in Bhubaneswar early tomorrow morning, about 5.30 am. My father will be there to pick us up. I have set three different alarms on my phone to ensure I wake up before we reach Bhubaneswar.