“Keep up with us, Hank. Its late, and you might get lost“, Brian yelled as we reached the Howrah station.
It was one huge and busy station. Even at midnight, when we finally arrived there.
We dragged our luggage towards the waiting room. While Ted and Hank looked after the luggage, Brian and I went to find a cheap room on rent, but in vain..
So, we had to spend the night in the waiting room. Sounds boring, right ? Thankfully, there was a twist.
On the benches of waiting hall, we met an interesting person (I, at first, thought he was a Bengali, and started blabbering in Bengali :P). He began the conversation first, telling us about his adventures during college, and the ones he often has. Listening to him talk, I realized, age is just a number. Brian took a particular fancy to him.
This man kept our boredom at bay. Till it was around four in the morning. He, then bought the new day’s newspaper and left soon after, leaving his email id with Brian.
We too set to work, brushing, or taking power naps in turn. For an eventful day was ahead of us.
At around 6 o’clock, the cloak room opened. So, we deposited our luggage there, and set out for Kolkata by seven.
Our first destination was Belur Math, the headquarters of a spiritual movement by Swami Vivekananda. We boarded a bus that dropped us opposite to the gates of Belur Math.
It was a very peaceful and lovely place, in contrast to the city that we experienced while travelling by bus.
The purity of the place was magnified by the majestic sculpted meditation hall and the Ganga flowing by.
The ferrymen would not leave without a total of 15 passengers each trip, cause they had to collect at least Rs 150 per trip (Rs 10 per head) . But there were just 10, counting us !!
So we waited, and waited, for 5 more passengers. Instead, a group of aunties got impatient and decided to take the bus route. Seeing no hope, we joined them.
The aunties left us at our second destination : Dakshineshwar Temple
This temple is a very popular for the god-fearing, besides being known for the traditional Bengal Architecture.
We sat inside for a while, taking a number of photos, and watching pigeons.
By then sun was already looking upon us, and we were hungry. So we had some breakfast in a roadside stall.
Our next stop was ‘Science City’. We had planned to go there by cab. Luckily we found a bus before we could find a cab. Travelling in bus reduced our costs by a great extent. A non-AC bus ride cost us 7 rupees (US$ 0.11) compared to 40-60 rupees (US$ 0.66 to 1.00) had we taken a cab.
The bus left us on a roadside. Opposite to Science City.
At first we went in a wrong direction, and later found the entrance to the park. There was a huge dinosaur statue in the entrance. No idea how we missed it !
After buying the entry tickets, we entered a large open area.
There was a large park in there, with a number of fun science experiments, and their explanations. We enjoyed a lot there.
Then we entered the auditorium.
There were a number of exhibits. We saw a 4-D feature film too, the one with 3D glasses and trembling chairs. They cost us 40-50 rupees for each show. We had ice-creams and burgers available inside.
Once outside the park, we drank a glass of lemonade each, priced at Rs 10 (US$ 0.16), and set off for the last place to visit.
Just outside Science City, we got a luxurious AC bus that took us near Victoria Memorial. The bus conductor told us to walk along a road to reach our destination.
As we were walking, Brian and Ted insisted on having another glass of lemonade from a roadside stall, just beside a renowned church, St. Peter’s Cathedral. As I was not thirsty, I wandered into the church, alone.
I had never been in a church before. There was a peacefulness about that place, that really touched me. As I was looking around the place, Brian and Ted entered a few minutes later. Hank was busy on a call.
Seeing me looking at everything so deeply, Brian and Hank actually thought that this church was Victoria Memorial !!! So, they began clicking pictures.
In this confusion, we lost a lot of our precious time. We finally reached Victoria Memorial, just 15 minutes before the entry was closed. We couldn’t get tickets for the museum inside, though.
We sat there for some time, clicked a few pics. But it was already dark.
There was musical fountain show, just opposite to Victoria Memorial. We enjoyed that for a while, then we found a nice hotel to have dinner. Not too fancy, not too cheap either.
After dinner, we caught a bus back to Howrah Railway Station, from where we had started our journey.
In all, our one-day trip turned out to be really cheap, mostly because we took buses instead of cabs. The entrance fees were worth every penny. The cost per head was just about Rs 500 (!!!), ie, US$ 8.33… However, the entry fees were much higher for foreigners at the Science City.
By 8 pm, we reached the station, dead tired. Hank got me a reservation ticket back to college. By 8:30, I boarded the train, and left, alone. Soon after, I fell asleep as the train ran towards my city.