So, yours truly went to attend a STAR India press conference at Kolkata last week (and I do realise that this is a long overdue post). Although it was a day trip, it was a lot of fun. Can't really say it felt like I was in a different city though, since the car that was taking us to the Taj Bengal (yes, we are grand) took the highway I think, and I passed the same hoardings that I see in Mumbai. There was the same Shoppers' Stop hoarding, then R. Madhavan and Vidya Balan pimping Airtel to us, and the eggjactly the same HDIL and DLF buildings, etc. Just that perhaps, the main roads are narrower, and the traffic madder than what it is, here. Oh yes, and elephantine Ambassadors are still popular with the Bongs, as I couldn't have missed noticing.
The morning began with the highly effecient Meru cab waiting for me downstairs 10 minutes after I woke up. I'd suggest all of you to book Meru cabs online before going on trips to places. They're highly punctual, very safe and very reasonable, too. And no, I'm not getting paid to endorse them (although I should). After a forced conversation with an extremely friendly cabbie, I made it to the airport and stormed through to the Kingfisher Airlines desk. Two girls wearing their best fake smiles walked up to me and issued me my boarding pass, and I was off to wait for my flight. Can't believe how easy traveling alone by flight is. I'll spare you the details about the flight, because it was like any other you've traveled by. But one thing I must point out is the bloody in-flight entertainment on Kingfisher airlines. Firstly, it has the world's shadiest channels (partnered with Dish-fucking-TV). Who the fuck watches Ten Sports, NDTV Good Times, Zee Music, Zee Trends, Cartoon Network, Zee TV? Oh yes, and one channel was dedicated ONLY to Jannat, the movie with the current shittiest songs right now, featuring none other than star monkey and Serial Kisser, Emraan Hashmi. Wow. And that's not all. The fucking movie was playing on my way to Kolkata, and back. In fact, on my return trip, one screening got over at about 10:30 pm, and they began playing the movie AGAIN without wasting three seconds in between. So that channel was out of the question. At the start of the flight, Vijay Mallya scared the shit out of me by suddenly popping on my screen and telling me what an indispensable traveler I was to Kingfisher. I couldn't help my eyes welling up at that. *scoffs* Also, Mallya darling claims that every air hostess has been "personally" selected by him, through a tough process (from what I gathered). Of course the process is tough. Sleeping with someone the size of Vijay Mallya has to be tough, no? As if Vijay fucking Mallya wasn't bad enough, Yana Gupta pops up on my screen giving me safety instructions in Hindi and English. I'm really not surprised no one gives her roles in the movies. She can't fucking act her way out of safety instructions of an aircraft, behaving uncannily like a third grader does in a school play. By the time this entire Mallya-Gupta torture conspiracy was over, the flight takes off and you're in the air.
Oh yes, while we're still in the flight, let me give you a tip. Don't ever opt for a window seat in a plane. Waiting till your bladder's about to burst before you wake your sleeping co-passengers is really not a wise thing to do. Alrighty, when we landed and all the concerned people from Star India and the PR firm assembled, we were packed off in cars to go to the Taj. I was with a girl from the Delhi bureau of a website, and she was quite nice. So we chilled with this very nice lady from STAR, till it was the time for the press conference. The event was nice and punctual (!), except that in the words of the PR guy we were with, "The press conference should have had subtitles." The entire thing was in Bangla yaar! I inched closer to this woman from TOI Kolkata, who farely had a good grasp on the language. She translated most of the stuff for me. The best thing about these places is the number of people you get to meet. Right from other media people, to CEOs, VPs, etc. of really big places. I LOVE my job. :) After the press conference, the Delhi girl and I were heading to our room, when my shoe snapped. Yes. I was stuck in a far away city with a broken shoe. No worries, the poise queen in me said aloud. I simply decided to go out in the afternoon in search of a cobbler / shoe shop. Everything seemed so set. We'd take a faraway look at Eden Gardens, visit Victoria Memorial, since they were 15-20 minutes away from the hotel. How blissful was I! I'd get to see the places in just a day trip, and get back home to my comfortable blankie in the night. Paradise!
My ass, it was paradise.
The Delhi reporter screwed up her internet connection, so sending the story across to her office became a problem. I was blissfully unaware of all the drama that was going on, since I decided to catch a nap before stepping out for our dream shopping trip. I wake up at fucking 6 pm, and find that the Taj lobbies are galore with two other journos/ PR people scurrying between rooms and the business centre, in search for Wi-fi connectivity. By the time, it was too late to do anything since reporting time at the airport was fast upon us.
Ah. No worries, I told myself again. I'd grab sweets on the airport. As for sight-seeing, I'll come back.
Except there was a problem.
I had a broken shoe, and no time to mend it up or buy a new pair.
Hobbling around the hotel, much to the merriment of the PR people and fellow journos (the woman from STAR even stuffed the Taj bathroom slippers in my bag, in case of emergencies. They were fluffy and white, FYI), we tried to all help the Delhi woman get her story across. And now we were desperate, since there was a teeny chance we would miss our flights if we didn't leave without wasting a second. After 15 excruciating minutes, they got her story across, and we had to leave. Me still limping across the fucking Taj’s grand hallways.
Taking a quick look at the time, we drew the conclusion that there was a BIG chance about the flight leaving minus us. Since I panic real easy, I was the first one to dash out of the hotel (quite like a bullet from a gun) in spite of the broken shoe, and hop into the car that was to escort us into the airport. The others piled up on me like a rugby team, and the driver was instructed to bhagao the car as much as he could. The next time, remember that that’s very wrong advise to give a driver in Kolkata. The madman drove the Qualis like it was the Knightbus and I promise you that cars, humans, flora and fauna jumped out of our way in sheer terror. But I now believe that there resides a God somewhere in our midst, which gave the driver excellent control over the steering, and each of us reached in one whole piece. As in, the individuals we had initially set out as, and not one big mass of people. After the check in and boarding pass nonsense, I finally got the fucking sweets I wanted to buy for home and Sweet Tooth. I admit they weren’t much, but at least I did something in Kolkata.
The flight was pretty uneventful, except the Mallya-Gupta torture conspiracy was still going pretty strong. After a long limping walk from the airport to the rickshaw stand, I finally reached home, by what time my foot was completely aching and swollen. I was almost teary-eyed to see mom, what with the aching foot and my beautiful house that I so, SO missed.
My trip made me realise one thing. Fuck everything. Fuck the irritation parents cause and the arguments I have with them. At the end of the day, it's them I want to goodnight to, and them I want to be grouchy at, first thing in the morning. And did I mention I wanted to live away from home? Hahaha...One day in a faraway city and I was teary-eyed when I reached home at 2:00 am (and my sweetheart mom was awake for me, as she would be even if I reached home at 5). I think I'd be dead if sheer homesickness if I ever decide to go abroad or something. Here's a big middle finger to moving out plans.
* big middle finger*