The best part about my job is that it lets me go to places, which I would have never even remotely thought about traveling otherwise. These travels have been either an hour’s drive from my domicile or at other times have been one unending and meandering expedition. Whatever be the roads like or whatever be season, one thing which has left me perplexed is that every place has it own beauty – it’s just another matter that people don’t observe or realize.
Travels have been ample. Some have been adventurous, some dull; and some left me gripping and mad. In three months I have traveled more than I had in the thirty years of my existence! They say business and pleasure do not mix. And sure it doesn’t. But then to look the other way round if I keep my work just to work and try to enjoy the rest of whatever little time I get; it sure becomes a travel so much like me – a freebee… a soul with itchy feet!
Kolkata was one classic example of a roller- coaster ride.
My boss called me one morning and asked me to get my bags packed and check with our travel agent for the earliest possible flight. Within the next twenty-four hours I was airborne. We touched down exactly forty-five minutes later and I was in Kolkata after nearly a decade. As I passed the streets everything had changed. The picture of Kolkata I had in my mind was certainly not the one I was seeing. Well off course for one factor that remains constant – the traffic snarls – that is perhaps one antagonizing phase of this colossal metro.
The driver took a long time to locate the 9 Shakespeare Sarani. As we waited in one long jam the driver popped out his head and asked a passer by in the local dialect where exactly was the 9 Shakespeare Sarani. The passer by looked at me and asked “Aap ko Brook House jana hai?” (Do you want to go to Brook House?) & I affirmed. He explained the driver something. The driver nodded his head and looked at me and said, “Madam, aap ne pehle kyun nahin kaha aapko Hindustan Lever office jana hia”?! (Madam why didn’t you tell me before that you want to go to the Hindustan Lever office?)
I felt like an idiot for reasons I may perhaps never comprehend! But nevertheless!
I reached 9 Shakespeare Sarani and almost immediately I was in the most posh, stylish & sleek office. This is the second office I’ve even seen so very chic. One was the Hughes office in New Delhi. I went there when I was doing my apprenticeship during my mass communication days – a story I will tell some other rainy day! The whole day went by and I didn’t even realize that it was time to call it a day. I was to stay in Camac Street; the hotel booked by the travel desk guys of the Kolkata office. It’s just a five-minute walk from the office. I reached the hotel and was dog-tired. My limbs I knew wanted to relax. I was not here to relax and I had only fifteen minutes in hand to freshen up and get going for the mega programme. Minto Park is again a ten-minute walk from my hotel and I trotted down the aisle rapidly. The awards function was a long one and I excused myself by nine. Ma’am (my boss) understood that I need to unwind and she let me go with a reminder that I should be back at 9 Shakespeare Sarani sharp ten the next day.
The next day I woke up and found a slight drizzle. I had not carried an umbrella. I waited in the lobby of my hotel for a few minutes but there was no respite and the minutes were passing by. I thought of taking a cab but that would not settle my state of affairs as the entire passage is a one-way route and the five-minute would become a nerve wrecking half an hour! So I decided to walk down no matter if I got faintly drenched.
By the time I walked out of office the drizzle was a downpour now. I wanted to rush back to the hotel but the aroma of the kebabs and rolls lured me to stop by in of the take away counters. I looked at the menu and ordered one double egg, chicken and cheese roll. This was sure indulgence but then this is again something I am up-to everyday.
I was soaking wet by the time I arrived the hotel. I asked the receptionist to get the bills ready, as I would be out of the place early next day. I waited for an hour or so but the bills did not arrive. I called up the reception and I was informed that I could settle it the next morning before leaving. No! I insisted that I settle my accounts now, as I don’t like last minute snags. But I was moderately pacified that I could settle the bills the next day.
I woke up much before the bellboy came (he had assured that he would give me a wake-up call at six thirty) to knock my door with the bed tea. I asked him to get my bills while in the mean time I freshened up and got ready. The bills came and I handed out my credit card.