Tuesday, May 11, 2021



It might be largely a weird thing to do...visit Kolkata from Bangalore by bus but this is what I embarked upon in March this year. It was in my mind for a long period of time to see what this city of Kolkata is all about. I studied the covid statistics for many days in March and found Covid to be dominant only in Maharashtra state and adjoining  areas and I was in constant consultation with APSRTC control room about all issues regarding travelling through Andhra Pradesh. I studied the map for a few days and finalized my basic plan...Bangalore to Vijayawada....Vijayawada to Vishakapatnam...Vishakapatnam to Bhubaneshwar  and Bhubaneshwar to Kolkata ...and the entire journey should take forty hours if everything goes well. I was thinking till the last moment if it was worthwhile to embark on such a journey but when I used justdial to book a room in Kolkata I got in touch with a senior man who runs a motel in Kolkata...precisely in Lenin Sarani..Dharamtalla.Since I found a room without much ado I decided to go on the adventure.


It was a  Sunday I dont remember the exact date...I reached the KSRTC bus depot by Metro and found an APSRTC bus bound to Vijayawada. I boarded this bus.Somewhere this bus was a mistake because it takes around fifteen hours to reach Vijayawada and goes via Tirupati which I was unaware of. The good thing about this bus was I met Venkataramana Shastry who was bound for Tirupati and the journey was enjoyable because both of us got talking on various issues. The bus took a halt for dinner few kilometers before Tirupati and Shastri and myself  had some fine dinner and tea. From Tirupati the bus had to enter NH 16 which is the Chennai -Kolkata highway and some one hour Tirupati the bus was on this highway ...a splendid four lane highway of International standards. I saw the board IIT Tirupathi after the bus left Tirupathi towards the NH16  highway .The entire night I did not have a wink of sleep generally marvelling what I saw around. Almost early morning the bus was on its way to Ongole ...I could see splendid landscapes in this part of Andhra Pradesh and morning 10:30 the bus reaches Vijayawada

Some twenty years or more I had visited Vijayawada and I was pleased to see it again.The bus stand is all the same but with much more population.I had three idlies in the restaurant ..the idlies were much bigger than what we get in Bangalore and cost Rs.15/-each.I had a stroll around the bus stand and saw the training center of APSRTC on the first floor and some statements of Peter Drucker displayed at the window panes of the training center and I was pleased that APSRTC has some regards for Drucker. At 11:30 am there is a VOLVO Dolphin coach to Vishakapatnam..which is a one of a kind bus....looks like a Boeing 737 in the inside and I booked into this bus ...It was a very comfortable coach...the bus should have reached Vishakapatnam at 8:30 pm but was delayed due to traffic jams at the entry of the Vishakapatnam city and reached its destination at 10:30 pm putting my plans haywire.Note that Rajamundry is a city that comes between Vijayawada and Vishakapatnam also called Vizag.


At 10:30 pm in the night there are no buses to Bhubaneshwar.There are no Government buses connecting Vizag to Bhubaneshwar..there are only private buses. I had some good egg fried rice in the restaurant at the Vizag bus stand and some touts there told me there is a bus at 1 :00 am. I decided to take a chance resting in the airconditioned waiting hall at the bus stand paying  Rs.20/- an hour but the bus that was to appear at 1:00 am never showed up. I made a quick decision to stay at Vizag for the night and booked into an AC lodge adjacent to the bus stand and faded off to sleep. The room was an exceptional one for Rs.1000/-..AC working perfectly well with 24 hours hot water and a large wall mounted TV.I think it is called Sai Baba lodge. Tuesday  morning I had a stroll of Vizag town just the areas near the hotel and found Vizag to be a well oriented city. People behave in a polite way..I had tea at an outlet near the hotel....and thereafter some good breakfast and booked a night ticket to Bhubaneshwar by a private bus set to leave Vizag at 10:00pm.I liked Vizag as a city and from my hotel room could see the Eastern Ghat mountains and planes landing at the Vizag airport.


That night I set off to Bhubaneshwar. A deluxe bus driven at high speed on the highway by an experienced driver. He stopped somewhere en-route for re-fuelling.I got off the bus and boarded after the refuelling. Some hundred kilometers before Bhubaneshwar he stopped for tea and resumed again.It was night time. At dawn the bus was  some forty kilometes or so from Bhubaneshwar and I could see a road sign towards Puri Jagannath temple. At around 6 AM i get down at the main highway near the Baramundy bus stand which is some kind of an inter-state bus stand.I did not have a wink of sleep all night. At this bus stand I fould a  8:30 am bus to kolkata which is an air-conditioned coach which is half seating and the other half sleeper.


The bus was driven at full speed and passed through Cuttack and Balasore...stopping for lunch at Balasore.Few kilometers ahead was entry into the state of West Bengal..one of the next stops was Kharagpur some three hours journey away from  Kolkata. At around 8 30 pm the bus reaches Babughat bus stop at Kolkata and I was off the bus and had a first view of Kolkata and its environs. I decided to take a taxi to the hotel.


No-sooner I settled into my room a cozy single bed room in Dharamthala..more precisely Lenin Sarani  and relatively close to the  Esplanade metro station.I had some strong dinner at a road side eat-out and went to sleep waking up six in the morning and taking a stroll around.There was a tea vendor who was at his work boiling milk using a single coil electric oven.I was amused to see a single coil electric oven.It was a pretty long wait and he served fine tea possibly with ginger in an use and throw mud cup.Down the road I saw the Sacred Heart Church Dharamtalla and had a small stroll around its premises and then on exit saw a tram.Out of spite I got into the tram and had a ride full circle up and down.This place called Esplanade was the heart throb of Colonial administrators when they were here and I could not have found a better location in Kolkata to stay. This is Thursday. In the afternoon I took a taxi to Victoria Memorial and had a stroll over the estate a well maintained edifice from far looks like the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore.But a Exhibition on Netaji Subhash Chandhra Bose was underway inside through which I pondered with involvement. It was nice to see statues of people like William Bentick and many other Indian and English administrators of the past and also the Statue of Edward VII the son of Queen Victoria. I had a short chat with a CISF jawan who was posted here. CISF stands for Central Industrial Security Force. I came back to my room in a Taxi and had a nap and with sun becoming more mild tried to study the Metro Railway system of Kolkata.


In the Kolkata Metro system entry is only through Smart card..so I had to buy one and set off on one of those trains to the Dum Dum metro station. Metro in Kolkata is fully underground and manned by the Indian Railways..Bogies appeared to me to be metallic and the AC makes slightly more noise than in Bangalore and most of the stations are Single platform.It was a pleasant journey and I reached the Dum Dum metro station. I had a chat with RPF personnel there and also a Metro pilot.Metro pilots in Kolkata are aged some forty years or so unlike in Bangalore where the system is manned by people in their early twenties. I returned to the Esplanade metro station and had a stroll back to my room. The two terminal points in the Kolkata metro system are Dum Dum and Kavi Subhash.I would like to make a statement of warning at the outset.Dum Dum metro station is very far from Dum Dum International airport..please dont get misled by the word Dum Dum. If you reach Dun Dum metro station and want to go to Dum Dum international airport you have to take two local buses. If you want to reach Dum Dum International airport get down at the metro station just before Dum Dum and one local bus will take you to the main road near the Airport and it takes half an hour. From this junction on the main road you have to take a taxi to the entrance of the Airport which could be some three kilometers. Iam told a metro connection directly to the heart of the Airport is under construction. What iam trying to emphasise to some extent is that Dum Dum metro station and Dum Dum International Airport are poles apart as of now.


The next day Friday morning I had my tea at another outlet near Lenin Sarani and after my morning chores decided to explore the Metro sytem even further.It was nice to see many school students using the metro system to go to school and I had a chat with some of them.This time I travelled in the direction I think towards Kavi Subhash and randomly got down at a station called Rabindra Sadan and was having a stroll outside and was told the house of Subash Chandra Bose is near by and is now a museum and I went searching for it. It is a very up market residential locality in Kolkata and I had a stroll around the house which is a Mansion or a Bungalow even by modern standards. The Austin car which he used is displayed at the entrance, I had a stroll back to the metro station and reached Esplanade and got into the Sacred Heart church and had a long meeting with Father Peppin of the church whom I came know later is a Tamilian and we started conversing in Tamil.


Sacred Heart Church  Dharamtala

Friday evening I got to see the vast expanse of Colonial buildings on the other side of  Lenin Sarani ,buildings which must be more than hundred years old and painted Coronation red..the mammoth nature and organization of these buildings left me spellbound.I was also at the entrance of Hogg market , a market named in honour of Saunders Hogg an officer of the ICS in the nineteenth century.I even happenned to see the Tippu sultan mosque near-by.

Sir Stuart Saunders Hogg I C S


I had developed  Diahorrea  due to some wrong food I ate somewhere and was worried. I decided to fly to Bangalore from Kolkata.I had to take a Plane  considering that I was sick had to reach Bangalore at the earliest. Saturday morning I surrendered my room and did all the planning that was needed for my onward journey.I set out of the room had a Ginger tea at an outlet near-by and set out for the airport from Esplanade and getting down at the station just before Dum Dum. I surrendered my metro card and took a local bus that took more than half an hour to reach the Airport Junction from where I took a taxi to the entrance of the Airport.I had to book a ticket and fortunately found that there was a 12:20 flight to Bengaluru of Air India.There were many Covid  procedures  and finally I was on-board and after two and a half hours reached Bangalore. What a relief? I had a chat with Anita the flight attendant who introduced me to the Pilot and Co-pilot with whom I spent some time on the tarmac. The captain was Mr.Sinha from Patna and co-pilot from the north east whose name  i do not recollect.


Thus ended my adventure by road to Kolkata from Bangalore a full two thousand kilometers..some times I ask myself..was it warranted.But now Kolkata as a city is no longer a mystery for me..dropped anywhere in Kolkata I can find my roots.


The diaohrrea ( i dont know how this word is spelt) I developed in Kolkata hurt me a lot. I met the local Government doctor here  who was of no help.I took Endopar but the thing resurfaced again.I was upset. On an evening walk near my house I met Dr.Katti who told me to take Norflox 400..which I did which gave ninety percent relief. Dr.Katti told me it is stomach infection. I was worried inspite of Norflox why things are not getting perfectly well. On the internet I came across Tiniba 500 which is given for amoebic infections. The whole damn thing became cured after one cycle of Tiniba 500.This means I had Amoebic dysentery. Taking lime and ginger frequently is also a supplementary cure.



Some of the observations on my journey which i would like to make regarding my journey;


1.I found it very pleasurable travelling through Andhra Pradesh and I find some administrative finesse which can be adopted by other states too.


2.A night or day bus from  Vizag to Bhubaneshwar operated by APSRTC  or  Oriya RTC is long over-due. Presently there is ORTC bus from Vizag to Jeypore in Odisha only. Such a bus would improve connectivity.


3.The staff of ORTC in Vizag need to be properly trained and oriented in the work that they do and a more professional approach is needed.


4.The food and other support systems at Baramundi bus station in Bhubaneshwar must be improved. There are many hotels  which are unsafe and unclean.


5.I found the entire area  of Esplanade in Kolkata needs better upkeep and maintenance. Cleanliness levels must be improved. The food served here at some places might lead to stomach bacterial infections.


6.The West Bengal Govt could pitch in to put mini-restaurants at various points where simple meals are served clean and people can sit in a dignified way within a hotel and have their food instead of relying on street vendors alone .

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