On 14th April, we started the day with lunch at Peter Cat, a visit to the Birla Planetarium followed by St. Paul’s Cathedral, and a boat ride at the Prinsep Ghat. As dusk settled down in the sky, we were exhausted and craved hot tea.
Dacres Lane, near Esplanade, houses one of the oldest and most sought-after shops, Chitto Da’s stall or Chitto Babu r dokan. During any time of the day, one can find a crowd of office goers, residents, and travelers relishing tea, butter toast, chicken stew, or fish fry while sitting on the long benches on the opposite foot. It’s not a fancy or upscale eatery, but the kind that satisfies the nostalgic soul of a foodie. We gorged on tea and butter toast, while the kid ate a fish fry.
By the time we got into the car, it was around 6:30 p.m. and a trip to the Ecopark didn’t seem like a viable option. Also, the kid was super tired from running around and doing other activities. So, we headed towards Minto Park to spend some time at the Iskcon temple. We witnessed the evening aarti there and drove back home to New Town.
Kolkata is a heritage city, rich in so many spots worth visiting that a day’s outing can never do justice to the heart of a traveler. But we want the kid to know and appreciate his birth city as he grows up. So, we decided to start taking him out on such short day trips. We hope to carry on the tradition of sightseeing new locations in the city as and when it fits into our schedule.
Hope you enjoyed reading my series as much as I loved writing the blog posts.
When we left St. Paul’s Cathedral after covering Birla Planetarium and lunching at Peter Cat, the watch showed 4:30 p.m. The kid wanted us to stop at Maidan to play football, a ritual we followed on most weekends during winter. But we had a different plan in mind and convinced him to a fun ride at a destination new to all of us. We reached Prinsep Ghat, the favorite spot of every movie director depicting Kolkata on the big screen (remember ‘Parineeta’?)
The child ran in the park, leading us to the ghat. We rented a boat for the four of us for around thirty minutes. The boatman rowed towards the opposite side of the ghat only after we put on the mandatory life jackets.
Initially, the kid was a little scared since the boat swayed in the river. Once he discovered the joy of splashing water, there was no looking back for us.
Of all the places we visited in our day’s outing, the ride on the Ganges against the backdrop of the yellowish-orange sun setting in the pinkish-blue sky became the most memorable part of our trip. I captured some gorgeous snapshots of the setting sun and the Vidyasagar Setu, before sailing back to the ghat. The kid was so happy about the ride that he made us promise to bring him back for another trip soon.
On the way back, we saw the Chakra rail; the kid happily posed in front of Fort William. It was already 6 p.m., and we craved tea. Through Burrabazar, we headed to Dacres lane towards our fifth destination. Stay tuned to know which place was next on our list.
After Peter Cat and M.P.Birla Planetarium, our third destination choice was St. Paul’s Cathedral, the largest church in the city. Every year, we visit the church in December when it is decked up for Christmas. It is located adjacent to the Planetarium. So, we parked our car inside the premises to visit both places.
A portion of the church is still under renovation, but one can still sit inside and soak in the silence of spirituality. After spending some time in tranquility, we took a look around to appreciate the architecture designed in an Indo-Gothic style. Next, we went to the children’s play area in the backside. The kid had a great time on the swing and slide while also running behind squirrels.
St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of my favorite places in the city to spend some time alone. In 2018, when I had just begun blogging, I wrote a detailed blog post about this spot. Needless to say, we would again return here on or before Christmas.
We spent some time in the garden area before driving out towards our fourth destination. Stay tuned to figure out where we took the kid next to have a gala time.
After our first destination, Peter Cat, we headed over to the Jawaharlal Nehru Road for our second stoop, M.P. Birla Planetarium. The kid has recently developed a fascination for the solar system and space. We got him a couple of age-appropriate books to satiate his curiosity about the planets. But he is always looking to know more. So, we thought of taking him to one of the shows currently running about ‘Cosmic collisions.’
After parking our car, we got the tickets by standing in a long queue. The second line was for entry, which was longer than the first one. Honestly, it was a big turn-off in the scorching heat. After getting inside, we realized that one could sit anywhere they chose to. We decided on sitting in the last row to have a better view, though the seating arrangement doesn’t make much of a difference once the show begins.
It was a mesmerizing experience. Once the movie began, we felt transported to the enormity of space. At times, the kid was baffled because most phenomena were beyond his age and understanding. However, that didn’t deter him or us from enjoying the experience. After the thirty-minutes show (which we felt was too short), we walked to our third destination in the vicinity. I’ll share more details in the next blog post.
Photography is prohibited inside the planetarium, so I’ve shared pictures only of the entrance and the garden area outside the building. You can find details of the planetarium on their official website.
Last month, we finally managed to find a day when the kid had a holiday, I didn’t have pending writing work, and it was a day off from duty for the husband. So, we took the kid out to explore the city of joy. Since it was peak summer season, we left around noon to eat at our favorite restaurant, the heritage place called Peter Cat at Park Street. After many decades, the eatery is still relevant amidst severe competition. It’s noteworthy that the joint hasn’t lost its nostalgic touch.
I won’t get into details about the history of the place since a lot is available on the net. But it’s essential to mention that this is one of our frequent places to visit and the quality of food stays consistent and unmatched. While we had fish makhmali and dum ki rann for starters, let me share pictures of two iconic dishes synonymous with this eatery – Chelo Kebab and Mixed Tandoori Grill sizzler (our choice for the main course dishes).
This blog post is the first in my ‘ Exploring Kolkata in a day ‘ series. Stay tuned to find out which was our second destination on the day of our outing.
It’s more than two years of spending every minute with this munchkin. While his father was busy as a frontline warrior, this kid and I held on to each other for support. From his online classes, restaurant outings, and going on trips within the city to dealing with my sickness, we faced it together.
At times, I felt annoyed with not finding a moment for myself. My writing schedule was messed up, and my daily routine went for a toss. Can’t wait for the school to reopen – I often voiced it out.
Last Friday, when he wore the uniform after two long years, picked up the bag, and got into the school bus at 6:40 a.m., it hit me hard how much I was going to miss having him around in the house. When he waved me goodbye at the school gate, I fought hard not to tear up in front of him.
On Monday, he cried a little, and I realized how much he missed attending classes with me. It’s a huge change for the kids, and along with them, parents and teachers are putting in a lot of effort to make this a smooth transition.
On Tuesday, our car followed his school bus in the morning. He wanted to wave me goodbye at the gate, but he also assured me of returning along with his friends by pool car.
Last night, we discussed his fears and insecurities in this new phase. He didn’t cry while speaking about them, and I was glad to be the patient listener instead of my husband. We decided that he was ready to make both onward and return trips by himself. I silently swallowed the lump in my throat; I had to let him find his way out.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post on the boy’s unusual capability to get emotional and shed tears while he was a preschooler. It became a little better after he started pre-primary school. Deep within my heart, I know that he might still feel sentimental, and we would need to repeat these pep talk sessions frequently. Yet, his efforts and baby steps toward becoming independent touched my heart.
As much as I feel happy that kids are finally going back to the life they deserve after being deprived of the joys of childhood for two years, a tiny part of me will never get over the feeling of a void in the house and my heart.