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June 2024

2. Third and fourth week in Kolkata


Wednesday 26 December 2018

Time to take farewell of Shantiniketan and return to Kolkata. Mattias and Daniel were lucky to have train tickets and left by a passenger train at 06.29 (Bubu rose up at 04.45 to give them tea, and an e-riksha was ordered for 06.30). The rest of us – Boni and Rana, Bubu, Marie and myself spent the following hours packing and then departed by road at 0830. The boys arrived Howrah Station at 10, whereas we arrived Kolkata via the second Hooghly bridge at 13.45, more than five hours travelling on the busy highway full of lorries, And heavy queues while entering Kolkata. 20 years ago the traffic was very limited in mid-day, but now the car park is so large that there is a chaotic traffic situation all day long.

Day of relax and did some planning for our coming visit to Bangalore 29 December till 3 January. In the evening Budhu (Ranas sister) and her daughter Rikhia came to visit and then also Munjini with family back from Apollo Hospital in Chennai.

Thursday 27 December 2018

The children met their cousins at Tala Park, including Tutus daughters having arrived from Bombay and Delhi respectively.
I spent the whole day at home, reading Tharoor…. Took a walk past Deshapriya Park and the restaurant Burnt Garlic where I had suchnqie pizzas and Bira beer in January, but the restaurants s one closed down. Instead I landed at a boring Chineses restaurant near Gariahat, the old style India restaurant, dark, no windows, lousy service…

Friday 28 December 2018

Invited to Ritayan Chatterjee’s and his parents house in DumDum for lunch and concert by Mattias and Daniel. Bubu sang as well and a few other guests joined. Great day with many visitors to the family, and as usual a delicious lunch. 1,5 hours journey by sever taxi from Lake market, travelled the long flyover from Rabindra Sadan to EM Bypass, passed the airport and finally through the narrow and winding lanes of DumDum, impossible to navigate in without gps – that the Uber taxis have. Mridul Bose came for the concert, nice to meet my old friend from Jadavpur University, retired since only a month back, again.
At 6 PM we had to return to Lake Market, nw with two Uber taxis since we were going to Bangalore the following day and needed to pack our bags. First leaving Buku who also joined us for this one day excursion at Munjinis place near Chetla Bridge.
Unfortunately I have caught a severe cold.

Saturday 29 December 2018

Up at 05.30, and away by car, Rana‘s driver transported the five of us to the domestic airport, reaching there 07.15.
We were flying by Spicejet  to Bangalore. Nice 2,5 hours experience since we had paid for additional services, Spicemax, that included nice seats in row No. 2 with extra leg space, also complimentary breakfast served for us, and speedy handling of our luggage..

We were in constant telephone contact with our Bangalore host Professor Gopal Karanth on how to travel from the airport. Since Marie was supposed to stay not with the rest of the family but with Sugandha Sukrutaraj (Sugii) – mother of our friend Deepak living in Lund, she took a separate taxi to Dollars Colony in north Bangalore, whereas the rest of us took a second taxi for the Majestic Metro Station in the city centre, and from there travelled by train to the southern end station of Yellachennah. There, Gopal met with his car to take us the short distance to their home in a house called Shankar’s Pride, located in J P Nagar Phase 8.

Warmly welcomed home by Gopal an this wife Raji, who spent one year in Lund 2011, Gopal being the second ICCR guest Professor at the Dept. of Sociology, Lund University – the ICCR programme organised by SASNET. We became good friends. The following year 2012, SASNET successfully organised a conference at the prestigious Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Gopal’s then home institution in Bangalore. That was the last time we met. Gopal has now left ISEC and is the Director for another institute, namely the Karnataka State Labour Institute.

While preparing for our Bangalore tour I had also contacted old-time SYDASIEN magazine friend Zac O’Yeah, working closely together with me and Katarina Sandström Blyme in the 1990s. SYDASIEN published his initiated articles on the Bollywood film industry already 1993, and we often had editorial meetings in Norrköping where Zac came from Stockholm, me from Lund and Katarina from Vadstena. Zac’s capacity was manifested in our20 years jubilee issue No 4/1997, when he spent half a night going through the 20 years of publication an excellent summary of it all. Unfortunately a few incidents led to a break in our relation, that took some years to heal, and again when I was working with SASNET in 2009 another incident happened again we lost contact. However, now that is forgotten, and we had agreed to meet on our first night in town. And at Koshys legendary restaurant in central Bangalore, a place where we also met in 2007.

We got transport by Gopal’s official car to Koshys reaching there at 18.15, and found that Marie already reached there. Zac arrived soon after, and we had a lovely time updating ourselves on our lives, and I had the same Mixed Grill I had last time, wheres Mattias and Daniel ordered Kerala Beef, a dish not mentioned in the menu, but still existing. So nice to revive our friendship, and for Marie it was extra exciting to get Zac’s autograph to her paperback copy of Guru that she currently reads.

I forget to mention that Gopa and Raji only has one guest room for Bubu and myself. For the boys, Gopal had made a booking for a hotel which we believed was quite close by, but in reality took 10-15 minutes to reach. They were left there in the evening but were not very happy with the standard, Ao instead they googled for a centrally located hotel and found one at Richmond Road, the Elanza Hotel. They moved there the following day.

Sunday 30 December 2018

Whole day tour by hired car to Belur temple town more that 4 hours  journey toward Mangalore, Bubu and I, Matias  and Daniel, Gopal and Raji. Departed Bangalore at 7 AM an returned exhausted at 8.30 PM. Had our breakfast and lunch at nice and clean motel-type restaurants and enjoyed the magnificent temple sculptures in Belur, dating back to the Hoysala kingdom of the 11th century AD, at the same time the Lund Cathedral was constructed. Once there, I discovered that Bubu and I already visited Belur in 2012, on our way from Bangalore to Mangalore. However for the boys i it was an extraordinary experience to see it. Besides tea wether was beautiful, pleasant Swedish summer weather.
We also visited the Halebib temple complex near to Belur, and that was a new place for Bubu and me.

Monday 31 December 2018/New Years Eve

Morning, watched from the balcony the military drill at Ennare School just beside Shankar’s Pride. I find it highly disturbing.
Gopal had to we went to work today since the budget for his institute has to be finalised and approved, instead Bubu and I plus Raji went by Uber taxi to downtown, first to the Elanza Hotel to meet the boys at 2 PM, and together with them we went to a fantastic traditional South Indian restaurant nearby, suggested by Gopa. Wonderful food served on banana leaves.

Then we took two autorikshas  to the Commercial Street, the main shopping area in Bangalore, spending a few hours strolling around.

Back home at 7 PM, nice evening, Gopal, Bubu and wen to a liquor store and bought a bottle of imported white wine plus a small bottle Signature whiskey för 2 000 rupees. We had a relaxing new years eve, checked Facebook and sent greetings to friends all over the world.  Finally, at midnight we went out on balcony to enjoy the cascade of fireworks over town.

Tuesday 1 January 2019

There seems to be a curse on me to fall ill while travelling in India nowadays. After having problem with a running nose, coughs and since I had pneumonia a couple of times a fear that the infection goes down into the lungs, getting diverse medicaments by Gopal and Raji, today I also got digestion problems. Gopal offered a special breakfast, a plate with some unidentified cereals. My body did not like it, I felt dizzy and tired with strained stomach. Still Bubu and I left by Uber taxi at 3 PM down to Elanza Hotel, meeting Mattias and Daniel in the foyer. Went to the toilet and could  not stop vomiting, the entire breakfast plus the lunch.

Afterwards I felt a little relieved and we called for a new Uber taxi to take us to Dollars Colony and Sugii’s house. We had been invited to her place (where Marie stays) for dinner at 6 PM, and this visit was planned for already in the planning process, since Gopal had announced he had to work this day.
Dollars Colony is a ultra modern housing complex with exclusive flats för well to do Bangaloreans and some foreigners.
In-between the 18 stories high houses a nice enormous courtyard with swimming pools is open for the residents and their guests, guards make sure no outsiders use the place. Mattias and Daniel looked forward to use the pool like Marie has done every day, and after some checking with Sugii they were allowed to swim. I was not feeling good, so I lay down in a resting chair.

We then took the lift to the 17th floor and Sugiis flat, warmly welcomed by Sugii and her mother. Bubu and I were here also in 2012, but for Mattias and Daniel the spectacular views from the balcony – the entire Bangalore seen from here – were great to photograph. I had to take rest in Maries room, slept an hour and not feeling even worse afterwards. Sad, because Sugii had prepared lots of wonderful food, including pork and chicken curries, served along with wine, I would  have loved to take part but could not…
Taxi back to Elanza Hotel and Shankar’s Pride, home at 22.30.


Wednesday 2 January 2019

Home whole day, recovering from my bad health. Gopal’s theory I did not manage to digest yesterday’s breakfast, and that is probably true since my stomach otherwise is working fine. Bubu and Raji went out in the afternoon, with Raji’s yellow car. Alone in house for few hours.
Mattias and Daniel arrived along with Marie at 17.30, after the boys having done their Bangalore sightseeing – something I missed, however I have been in the city several times before. In the evening we ate and were given presents to bring back to Sweden.
The boys returned to their hotel whereas Marie stayed with us for this last night at the Karanth flat, so we could travek together to airport next morning.

Thursday 3 January 2019

Flight back to Kolkata, by Air India, departing Bangalore at 11.10, got up at 05.30 and seated in an Uber taxi at 06.45, reaching airport already at 08.00.
Our flight however delayed by two hours, reached Kolkata not at 13.30 but 15.30. At home by 5 PM. Long journey but still not boring, since it is such a great feeling that the entire family is united for such a long time. Already I miss that Mattias and Daniel leave back for Sweden on Monday morning.
My cough does not diminish, I fear that it will eventually lead to pneumonia. So tired in evening, to bed without brushing teeth.

Friday 4 January 2019

Cured my health by staying at home whole day, whereas Bubu and the children went to New Market in the morning – ending up only buying Bandel cheese, that Zac O’Yeah had spoken enthusiastically to us about. In the afternoon the family was invited to Tutu and Tuki, and again the rest of us went there but I remained at home. They got lovely food and met the daughters who are in Kolkata right now. Marie was promised housing in Mumbai with Mamburi in mid-February, she can do her translation work from there, after Bubu and I return to Sweden on 12h February.

I managed to produce an extensive travel report, Resebrev No. 74, on my stay at Tala Park in July 1982 and visit to Partha Munshi in Bastar, an important part of how Bubu and I became man and wife.

In the evening I met Mridul Bose and Asoke Bhattacharya, they should pick me up at 7 PM but came only at 8.15. We had a nice dinner at Coastal Macha at Hindusthan Park, recently moved from Southern Avenue. I had pork vindaloo. Discussed Asoke’s new position as Director, Institute for life-long Learning in Dhaka, and the sad thing that my newsletters are no more.

Saturday 5 January 2019
Visiting Munjini’s house. The boys played at Chai Walk Cafe in Tollygunge, nice photos posted on Facebook.

Sunday 6 January 2019
Tala Park visit. Mattias and Daniel stayed overnight.

Monday 7 January 2019
Boys returned to Sweden by Emirates flight.
Took a long walk to Ramakrishna Mission at Golpark and back via the Lakes, 10 800 steps, calculated by my Iphone health app.
In the evening, STAFFAN LINDBERG, my friend and colleague since 40 years passed away at hospital in Lund, heart stopped.
I make a break in this blog thing…

Tuesday 8 January 2019
Bharat Bandh announced by 10 trade unions supported by Congress and Left Front. Limited affect on city life, bank offices closed. Took a 11 km walk from Lake Market to Esplanade/entered Grand Hotel, onwards to Park Street, had lunch at Kwality and ice cream at Parallells, taxi home. 16668 steps, 11 km.
Info about Stafffan from Dan and Danielle Collberg, called them in evening.

At 19.00 met Christabel Royan, acting Director for the Nordic Centre in India (NCI) university consortium, at Banana Leaf close to our house. We had originally decided to meet at Flurys, Park Street at 11 AM but that was cancelled because of fear thta the bandh would make transports impossible.

We met last in January last year when Lars Gerdmar got assistance for his Indian study tour. Now we discussed critical issues regarding NCI – Stockholm University will also leave the consortium just like Uppsala did last year, and also my problems with Nordic South Asia Net, the web site out because of virus.