From Bhubaneswar it is an eight hour overnight train ride to Kolkata. It is also the smelliest train journey in India. According to the ticket collector, to whom I put the question, the train is plastered with poop for luck and to keep the Trinamool Congress away. Among my personal effects was a bottle of a Calvin Klein perfume called 'Be' which by the way must be one of the daftest product names of the century. Unless of course they meant "Bee" and misspelt it (perfume specialists tend to misspell words like "bee" - abilities problem). Anyway, my kids remembered I was carrying this, made me dig it out of my suitcase and sprayed it liberally over themselves, including on their hair. Apart from this, it was a great journey. One more like this and Sheela will divorce me for sure.
Howrah railway station was a lot better than expected. There were the usual smooth-operator cabbies, but a life time in Mumbai hones one's instinct. Like the sensex, the main contenders' asking price went down from 500 rupees to 100 in 20 seconds.
We were booked into a wonderful, musty, roomy, laid back club named the Calcutta Swimming Club on Babughat, just next door to the Eden Gardens Cricket stadium. After a well deserved steaming hot bath, leading to the demise of several billion assorted bacteria and other little creatures, we decided to step out and have a dekko at the old metrop.
And as we sauntered around, I saw what splendid, operatic names Kolkatans have.We had, and I'm going by the road names and shop signs, Obonindra, Biplab, Charuchandra, Brojen, Bibhudendra..... the list runneth longer. My usual sharp journalistic sense was aroused and I tried my best to find out why they have such lovely names here, where Mumbai sticks to Suresh-Ramesh-Ganesh-Dinesh-Paresh and, in extreme cases, Haresh. I didn't have much luck, alas. The intellectuals of Kolkata keep these things very confidential. But I have a theory now, based on dark whisperings.... Here it is.
THEORY OF KOLKATA NAMES
If you name your son Suresh or Ramesh here, they take him away from you plus give you fifty lashes on the old spot. And if you have twins and happen to name them Suresh AND Ramesh, you get a choice between the hangman's noose and the firing squad. This is why people named Rituparno exist.