My wish for a good breakfast spot has been granted. Dennis finds a great place right around the corner from the Pushpak on Kyd St. (Dr. M Ishaque Rd.). Two gents there have an open-air sidewalk stove and a recipe for egg sandwiches like you wouldn’t believe.
Fine dining on Kyd. The chef is the man in the red checked shirt.
They do a great business. I have to wait a good fifteen minutes for my sandwich, but it is well worth it.
The bearded man in the white tee sous chefs for the breakfast king, making chai and coffee (instant, I’m afraid), and slicing and dicing.
Step 1: pour most of the magic egg batter in a hot buttered pan.
2: cut some thick bread in half, mop up the bowl with it, then 3: drop it in the pan.
Step 4: after the egg has cooked a couple of minutes, flip the whole thing over.
5: let the coated bread cook up like french toast. When it’s done, fold it all in half and Voila! Egg-cellent sandwich.
Just across the street, up about ten steep, narrow steps is an internet café. The proprietor’s name must be Bengali for Shorty, because the ceilings are maybe 5 feet. The beams are generously wrapped in rubbery foam, thank goodness, because it’s pretty well impossible not to bump your noggin.
That’s Bill squatting on low chair upstairs at the internet cafe.
He’s about 6’3” so ducking is a must.
This lovely man is the owner of the shop. He is seated. Notice the black rubber-padded beam about a foot above his head.
Almost as soon as I sit down to write some emails, I have to pee. I ask him if there’s a bathroom. “No, but go downstairs. You can use the one in my house.” He tells me to turn left at the bottom of the stairs, and his is the 2nd door on the left. “Just go in.” In the video below, you see me walk carefully down the steps, turn left and point the camera briefly into his house. Any more filming would be rude. By the way, notice also the incessant honk of the traffic.
His wife and daughter are inside cooking, and I feel pretty stupid being there, but she motions me with a smile toward the bathroom, and I go ahead on in and close the door. Upon exiting the bathroom, I notice another room where a young man is asleep. The wife, chopping veg, smiles again and I nod my thanks and take my leave. Such a degree of openness and trust is pretty astounding. In the West, we’re very concerned about our privacy and our safety, probably for good reason, but right now it seems a little out of balance. Same with the breakfast place. I’m sure it would never pass Canadian health standards, but again, our concern feels over the top and maybe there are more important things to be so fastidious about. I’m sure India’s fastidious quotient is out of whack too, in its own way, but in this case, if a guy’s gotta pee and you’ve got a bathroom, it seems obvious what’s the right thing to do. So, thank you, Shorti.
That's kol-ka-TOSS-ee-yan, in case you're interested. It's an ancient Sanskrit term for an Aussie living in Kolkata. And if you believe that, you're the star in my new reality tv show, Gullible'sTravels.
Some of our crew are off to see the (Queen) Victoria Memorial this morning, but I can’t seem to get excited about Victorian England at the moment. So Pam, Heather, Tamara and I arrange a walking tour through the streets of Kolkata with Kali Travel Home, run by Australian expat, Martin. He and a partner also offer Bengali cooking classes. They have been living here (returning to Australia for the absolute minimum time allowable under visa restrictions) for 20-ish years, so they really know the place like natives.
We begin our Martian tour by walking over to the subway and going north a few stops. I’m a little confused as to the exact details of where we went, but basically we get off the subway and enter the Barabazaar (also spelled Burrabazar, it literally means big bazaar) from Tiretta Bazaar. The market has both covered and non-covered sections and it stretches for a kilometer and a half north and west over to the river. It’s just north of BBD Bagh (Dalhousie Sq.) for those who want to look at a map. On our walk over to Tiretta Bazaar St., we get a pretty good sense of what Mother Theresa meant by “the poorest of the poor.” The folks living in these cardboard-walled and tarp-roofed huts are construction workers and their families, according to Martin. The city allows them to live there until the building is finished. They even put in plumbing, i.e. a waist-high spiggot on the sidewalk, for washing dishes, clothes and bodies, and in some cases, public toilets. But when the building is complete, it’s time to move on.