Day 3 of the trip was mostly leisurely and uneventful. We traveled to the central city – Park Street, Park Circus et al and visited the Victoria Memorial. The Victoria Memorial is a gigantic, gothic structure with beautiful landscaped gardens and fountains located in the central part of the city. It has huge gardens in which you can chill out or if you are the history buff or a tourist interested in museums, you can check out the museum inside the structure.
The museum did not interest me very much except a couple of original hand-written letters by eminent personalities (Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose to Nehru) which were on display on the upper floor.
The rest of the day was spent walking down the famous sari street – Gariahat – with Pritika and my mom going in and out of all the shops and me and dad eating junk food outside.
We had lunch at this extremely awesome south indian joint weirdly called “Chanda Store” located on the main Garihat road run by this Keralite couple. I regret not having taken a picture. It is a small little shop (maybe 150 odd sq feet) – kinda shady and dirty looking and is the only visible food place on that entire stretch. We had masala dosa for 30 bucks and filter coffee for 10 bucks and it was one the best dosas and filter coffees that I have had in quite a while. If you are a guy and stuck at that place, I highly recommend getting a bite to eat there. It has only 2 cramped up tables in the tiny little shop and might look a little shady – but the food was awesome.
Days 4 and 5
Days 4 and 5 were the primary focus of the trip and we went to the my mother’s ancestral houses in the village (both grandmother’s and grandfather’s side). We got the opportunity to eat authentic village food and sweets and also stayed overnight there.
Most houses in the village are built in a rectangular fashion with the courtyard in the middle – something that is ideal for joint families. They will have their own pond and people actually catch their own fish from these ponds. Growing their own food is a given and there are large storage areas built right inside the houses which house grains that have been recently farmed. All houses that we visited have their own small vegetable garden and they grow their own vegetables as well. In addition to this, houses will also have cattle which takes care of their milk needs.
People catching their own fish
On demand, in house milk production
This part of the trip was really the best and my sweet tooth was well rewarded. People actually serve you plates of sweets (consisting of anywhere between 4 – 6 pieces) per head and expect you to finish it. I took this opportunity to actually taste all the different types though my appetite for sugar substantially reduced by the second day.
More than the awesome food and sweets, what really hit us city folks (especially me) was how warm people can actually be. Everyone was extremely courteous and the best hosts anyone could possibly be.
Another thing which you will surely notice is the ingenuity of the people here. Even though means are limited, people come up with innovative ways to get their stuff done and carry on with their lives. There is tremendous scope for technological innovation in rural areas which can simplify their lives and still leave the entrepreneur with enough cash to make a decent profit.
I had an awesome time on this trip for more reasons than one and something that I’ll always remember.