When in Kolkata all one needs to do is apply an imaginary black and white filter in their heads, you'll feel like a character out of a 50's movie and the city happily plays its part in pushing itself to this cause.
The drive till you reach the outskirts of the city is quite pleasant, the roads are smooth and have a flurry of factories alongside, which keeps your eyes occupied, however, I kept checking if I was using any of the products that were being manufactured right ahead of me.
The gazing came to a stop when I entered the city in the evening and found myself complaining about the narrow roads and ultra-slow traffic which, however, didn't seem to bother the locals even a bit as I saw quite a lot of them swoop by on bicycles you know, just like back in the day.
The idea of driving around Kolkata in a four-wheeler felt like a helpless cockroach trying to get ahead in a line full of ants, so I left my vehicle at the hotel next morning to sought what the public transport has to offer. The first thing I noticed was a bunch of hand-pulled rickshaws, a remnant of the British Empire, parked aesthetically, orderly maintained and painted in jet black just like the Viceroy would have liked it. I was tempted to get a ride to just to get a feel of a vehicle that runs on a human heart but after being guilted by a friend on the grounds human rights and my obesity we decided to call the 'Yellow Ambassador Taxi', which literally features in every video and photo that has to do with Kolkata, and rightly so because it adds so much to city's charm.
The chunky yellow car arrived, it looked like its best days were behind, but this tough cookie had a few rides left like any other yellow cab in the city.
The cab inside was a surprise, it is one the most comfortable cabs I've ever been and the closest probably I've ever gotten to sit in a vintage vehicle, something the Viceroy would rather prefer than a human cart. Also, if you have a political opinion the drivers are waiting to strike a conversation. I had a really intense conversation with one of the drivers, we exchanged notes on Mamata Banerjee and Asaduddin Owaisi.
I got down at the Victoria Memorial, this place seemed to be a bit more popular than I expected it to be. What I saw was a crowded big building with too many paintings and many sections seemed to be closed as the building was being restored hence I wasn't too amused, however, there is park outside where I spotted a two-piece band playing classical music, the violinist had the whole parked gather for him when he played the classical piece 'Canon in D' by Pachelbel.
After visiting Victoria Memorial, my next stop was the Howrah Bridge. The cab drove through city's dusty old buildings and narrow lanes and with Kishore da's music playing in background gave me a sense of the past and also to check if this cab was from the movie 'Back to the Future'. It was really amusing to cross the Howrah Bridge on foot, to feel the bridge jiggle to the traffic with a view of the river and a really large crowd buying flowers at the Mullick Ghat is a dominant memory of Kolkata in my head.
If anything, else Kolkata is known for is its food. There is authentic Kolkata cuisine served at places like Koshe Kosha – fish curry cooked with mustard oil welcomes your taste buds to the trip and restaurants like Arsalan while infusing Aalu some in its Mutton Biryani stands right there, competing with the best biryanis in the country and the service at these restaurants makes you almost forget the communism was a prevailing idea here once
Kolkata is much more than what the generic 'Top 10 things to do' suggests you. The understated aspects of the city, the streets, the taxis and their food surely make Kolkata, the 'City of Joy'.