East India & Company

I’d known it’d be hot, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the sticky, suffusing 44°C heat that greeted us in Jamshedpur. After the 37°C in Pune that I had whined as being oh so hot, this was like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. But that’s tropical summer for you, I guess.Jamshedpur reunited us with family, and showed us some things new, some things pretty, some places old and some places nostalgic. I got to spend a few, unhurried sunset moments by the confluence of the Subarnarekha and Kharkai Rivers – my favourite place in the town, and at Jubilee Park, where illuminated fountains lit up the late evening skies with their refreshing colours.

We travelled to Kolkata next, and though it was relatively less hot, it was definitely more humid. But there was so much here that made the noisy, dusty, yellow-death-cab-filled-city, fun for me. 

Rating highest perhaps was a delectable lunch at Flury’s, a place I associate with childhood memories, warm, mouth-watering flavours and the feeling that I’ve stepped into a different era. 

The Victoria Memorial was well worth a visit, and we spent a large part of the evening on its manicured lawns. 

Princep Ghat and the Vidyasagar Setu Bridge spanning the Hooghly River were impressive, both beautifully lit and standing out against the inky black of night. 

We might’ve visited a lot more places in Kolkata if we’d had more time, and if it hadn’t been so hot, and I guess the holiday might have been more enjoyable if this had been November, and not May. But in the end, the joy of meeting the people you love far outweighs the discomfort the weather inflicts on you. So while I’m back in Pune, enjoying (and appreciating) its cooler climate, what comes to mind isn’t the sweltering heat, the sweat and the endless, blazing sun in the east.

I remember instead, the sharp aroma of mustard seeds sputtering in hot mustard oil, the sweetness of fluffy, white rasgullas, the warmth of shared laughter and conversations with loved ones over endless cups of tea, the places and people that I hold fondly in my thoughts…And I bring home with me, the assurance of prayers and whispered blessings of the family elders, and reasons to return, another day. 

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