The train reached Cal by 9 and we managed to squeeze every bit of luggage into the tiny Tata Indica that had come to pick us up. Groaning under the weight, the car made it’s way to W’s friends house. After a quick wash and some breakfast, all of us went out to explore Cal. W decided to hang out with his friend. S, P and myself drove around staring at the beautiful British buildings on Dalhousie Square. We were too late to catch lunch at the Coffee House, a popular adda place close to the university. Adda as the Outlook magazine put it is ‘a discussion without agenda’. We managed to see why the place generated the amount of conversation it did on philosophy, arts and economics. I could not think of better settings, with high ceilings, fans hanging low, faded walls, cavernous room, tables packed close together with wired wooden chairs, for pontification. We wandered about seeing Presidency College, Cal University and the mostly closed bookshops on the platform. The ones that were open had some brilliant books.
After a while I left to visit the house in which I had stayed in sixteen years ago as a child. Nothing much had changed, including the flower shops on the platform as you stepped out of the building. Cal is the best place to wallow in nostalgia. Nothing changes.
After taking a lot of snaps to show my family, I took the underground metro. It had been unique sixteen years ago, and even today remains unique. I could not think of too many other places in India where such prime advertisement locations could be filled with paintings and quotes from Rabindranath Tagore’s Geetanjali.
P and S had spent the afternoon drinking tea at a lovely tea parlour on Park Street. The parlour was simple and elegant, again with the typical Cal high ceilings. The best part were the enormous windows overlooking Park Street. One could watch the world go by while the sun poured in. I joined them and after just one quick cuppa, it was time for us to go to the airport.
We rushed in with our large pile of luggage and checked in. P luckily prevented any awkwardness in the last minute conversation by disappearing and leaving us all wondering if she was going to miss her flight. Finally, after we had charted out quite a few dramatic scenarios, she arrived and told us that she had gone in to check a penknife she had carried in her hand baggage by mistake. Incredulous and laughing, all of us waved good-bye and P and myself left to take the Chennai flight.