Kolkata: Joy and Nostalgia

After the COVID-19 pandemic, our first grand trip was to Kolkata, and it was also the first journey by airplane – each and every other trip was by car, as we were not sure about traveling somewhere in public with the corona virus around. We did feel that the flight was also going to be difficult with the restrictions around, but thankfully, Kerala and West Bengal didn’t have problems with accepting travelers from the other. The basic motive of this journey was to visit the National Library of India, the largest of its kind in India, so that I could find some material for my research. It did turn out well, as we could get a membership online and use the reading room as much as we needed. The library is a beautiful structure in huge green compound. There is a huge collection of books, and I am sure that I wouldn’t find anything so well-maintained anywhere else. Indian Coffee House of Kolkata could have been better if people wouldn’t smoke in there, and if they had tea like those in Kerala.

The other journeys were to Victoria Memorial and Mother House, both I am visiting for third time – never to be missed while traveling to the city. We also chose to visit the British Council Library which felt so small in comparison to the National Library, and also the Kolkata Book Fair which didn’t seem to have enough English book, but seemed like a nice place to wander – too crowded though. St Paul’s Cathedral was undergoing renovation, but remained as beautiful as usual. Another visit for a show in Birla Planetarium also followed. The South Park Street Cemetery became my third favourite cemetery after the ones in Bradford and Glasgow. We also visited three malls, City Centre Salt Lake, Forum Courtyard and Quest Mall. It was very quick a journey, as we did all of these in just a week and rushed back home. Yet, any time spent in Kolkata brings happiness, as it is indeed the City of Joy. I will still miss the trams as we couldn’t find them in the areas we visited.

National Library of India. The library of the life-time.

All the time, you visit Indian Coffee House for no reason.

Quest Mall is among my favourite malls, all-time.

St Paul’s Cathedral in the evening is lovely Gothic.

This one had fascinated my as a little kid long ago.

There is no end to a cemetery love that goes on.

I have always preferred Victoria Memorial to Taj Mahal.

Mother House has been a place of blessing for long.

The mall is lovely, but needs a food court with options.

Tea in a pot is something that we need here too.

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***The images used on this blog post were taken by me on my Samsung mobile phone during my visit to Kolkata.



A Dream World to Visit

There are only a few places which have imprinted themselves enough in my heart to inspire a journey there. Among them, there are almost none outside the Europe and the Americas except for Melbourne, a city which has had my attention since my early cricket loving times which seems to have lasted an eternity, or a significant part of it. So how did the second most populous city in Australia become the most loved city in my list overtaking the other big names including Sydney, Dubai, Wellington, Riyadh, Doha, Pretoria, Cape Town and Sharjah?

1. The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG): This stadium has been in my list for quite a long time, above many of the other cricket venues of the world. The largest stadium in Australia as well as the whole Southern Hemisphere, this eleventh largest stadium in the world and largest cricket stadium has a special memory from my cricket loving past for me. There has been only one One Day International century by an Indian at the MCG, and it was by Sourav Ganguly – the Lord of the Offside; not to be considered the God, but undoubtedly the greatest of India’s left-handed cricketers. There was no more of ODI centuries by an Indian there again – shows how good the man used to be. That makes MCG our holy place.

2. Melbourne Park: There are not many things I wish for, more than watching my favourite players go against each other, especially Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Australian Open has been among my favourite tournament and I have admired it as much as The Wimbledon. It is a tournment where my three favourite players, Federer, Djokovic and Agassi hold record for winning it the most number of times. It is also that Grand Slam which has given us new stars, like Marcos Baghdatis, Fernando Verdasco, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Fernando González, also leading to the big rise of players like Stanislas Wawrinka, making the tennis world more competitive. Who wouldn’t want to go to Melbourne Park? One day, I will.

St Paul's Cathedral keeps calling one to have a look with its beautiful interiors.

St Paul’s Cathedral keeps calling everyone to have a look with its beautiful interiors.

3. St Paul’s Cathedral: I have seen this Anglican cathedral in pictures, and I was like, why do you always think about Europe when feeling the need to go to a beautiful church? This one is right there among those church buildings of the world that I wist to visit. I have seen a number of cathedrals in Europe in my life, and this one surely has a certain amount of divinity as I keep staring at the photos. The inside of the structure clearly overtakes the outside in its beauty and this is one Gothic building that can make even the horror fans proud along with spiritual ones. The Anglican Diocese of Melbourne as well as the residents of the city can be proud of this creation of man for God.

4. The City Circle Tram: I had developed a certain amount of love for the trams since my early childhood journey to Kolkata, but this one that we witness in Melbourne is not just simple tram, as it has so much of beauty about it. There is that one day when you accidently go through the photos of these beautiful transportation vehicles, and there is nothing left to do but admire them and hope to take a journey in it. There is something about trams, it is related to the beauty and the antiquity – but the tram that we see here is more than that, or the highest point of all of them.

A dram: to travel in this tram, not like any other tram in the world.

A special tram here: to travel in this tram, not like any other tram in the world.

5. St Patrick’s Cathedral: Belonging to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, this is also added to my long list of churches which are to be visited in my lifetime. I have already visited around a thousand churches in my life, and I have kept a count of the same, even as it is more or less accurate. Among the churches to visit, this also has a prominent place, as I have been searching for more each and every day. I have read that it is the largest church building in the country and that adds to the interest. May be, one day I can join this archdiocese, in case a jobless me gets a job there.

6. State Library of Victoria: I have been to many libraries in my life, as I have been quite a reader – but nothing like this one in Melbourne. I saw the structure and wondered if it is really a library or rather something else. I compared it to those which I have visited and thought about it only to feel the respect for the care that is given to history, architecture and over them all, to the procedure of reading. Along with wondering if I can see anything like this in my lifetime, I also feel that something like this won’t be enough, and only witnessing this building and satisfying my hunger for reading can make me happy, leaving me with some respect for myself as a reader.

St Patrick's Cathedral becomes one big Gothic reason to visit Melbourne.

St Patrick’s Cathedral becomes one huge Gothic reason to visit Melbourne.

7. Eureka Tower: I am going to climb to the top of this tower, and enjoy the top view as this would become the tallest building I have ever been to. Yes, I have been to the Petronas Towers, but never went to the top, and was also close to visiting Burj Khalifa, but as those things never happened, I wish to start with the Eureka Tower’s observation deck which will officially begin my skyscraper love. Formerly the tallest residential structure, it is now the fourteenth tallest residential building in the world, and I am reserving quite some attention for this one. What I am planning is to yell “eureka” after climbing to the top of the tower and taking some awesome photos.

8. 120 Collins Street: This one comes next and adds to my skyscraper visiting needs as there are lots of things that the structure reminds me of. This reminds me of the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building of the New York City – I would choose to visit this one and consider myself having visited all three of them. This has that kind of architecture which has stuck to my mind for too long, thanks to those Hollywood movies – I don’t think that I will be visiting the United States of America, and therefore I choose Melbourne to satisfy my need to get to such a structure and hope this can be done some day.

State Library of Victoria: a need to make the reader in me lot happier.

State Library of Victoria: a huge need to make the reader in me lot happier.

9. St. James Old Cathedral: There is no avoiding the older ones no matter how many new structures come up. The oldest church in Melbourne also gets my attention, and it is only one of three buildings in the city which has a history before the Gold Rush of 1851. With its foundation in 1839, there is no way that this cathedral should not be visited during a journey to Melbourne, and I would wish to start my possible journey in Melbourne from this one, as this has been home to God for more time than any other such structures in this city. There is always value for antiquity, and it demands respect and admiration.

10. The Melbourne Museum: My need for the museums have always been alive, and it has been with me through all the journeys that I have made throughout my life. I have visited a good number of them during my journey to the United Kingdom and I wish to do the same with is one belonging to Melbourne. There is no man without his dose of history, and I respect this city for having a wonderful place as this one for keeping the past saved for present and the future. A post-modernist style museum? Let me tell you something – I have always only dreamt about such a building. Night at the Museum, this is your time to bring the exhibits alive.

I have given ten reasons in this blog post for which I love this wonderful city and hope to travel there. So far, I have traveled to four nations in detail, and another one just as part of a longer journey – the four are the United Kingdom, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Malaysia along with the fifth, the United Arab Emirates. My hope is to add Australia somewhere in that list, and it would be just awesome. I would also like to add a journey through the Yarra River as a special need along with looking down from the top of the tallest office building in the Southern Hemisphere, the Rialto Towers.

Spare some time to watch a “Come Alive in Melbourne” video from http://bit.ly/CAMvideos – I would personally choose

Do visit the Tourism Victoria website (http://www.visitmelbourne.com/India.aspx). *All photos used in this blog post of mine are from the wikipedia pages of the respective tourist attractions.

Hosting a contest below: 

So, one question remains here. “Which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why?” [The best answer chosen is eligible to win a gift voucher from Tourism Victoria as it says in the contest page (as long as this entry of mine is accepted). The contest will end by 4th Jan 2015]


The British Adventure

Below listed are 10 locations during my visit to the UK which I loved more than the rest. There are more among my favourites – and a lot remains to be seen some time later. All photos were taken by me with a Sony Cybershot DSC-W310.

10. Sandal Castle: A setting of Shakespeare’s play Henry VI, Part 3, this is the first British historical monument that I visited, and the structure had witnessed the War of the Roses as well as the English Civil War during which it ended up in ruins.

Here I stood on the land fed by blood from those battles B-)

Here I stood on the land fed by blood from those battles B-)

9. Liverpool Cathedral: This Anglican cathedral is huge, as well as beautiful in a different way, deviating from the usual colours of the other churches which I saw in the other parts of the country, and check out for the light reflecting through the glasses.

This is one massive structure that reminds us of our minuteness.

This is one massive structure that reminds us of our minuteness.

8. Thackray Museum: This museum was one of the best experience of history that I ever had, as we get to walk through a recreation of the old British Leeds with its own sights and sounds as we follow the lives of certain Victorian characters.

I highly recommend this museum which will change your idea of history.

I highly recommend this museum which will change your idea of history.

7. Undercliffe Cemetery: I have seen many cemeteries, but this one certainly caught my attention. This world of the dead at Bradford made me interested in death a lot more. Here is one fine resting place for what the soul leaves behind.

I do wish to visit the graves of New Orleans, but this is a nice preface.

I do wish to visit the graves of New Orleans, but this is a nice preface.

6. St. Paul’s Cathedral: It is clear that I won’t go to visit St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica any time soon, and for the same reason, St. Paul was very important to visit, and this is one magnificent church which even makes us feel the need to go to Rome and see the inspiration.

St. Paul and St. Peter - don't I need to visit Rome for the latter? :D

St. Paul and St. Peter – don’t I need to visit Rome for the latter? 😀

5. Westminster Abbey: The place where coronations of monarchs were held, and that which holds the Poet’s Corner; it also has my namesake, Lord Alfred Tennyson. All English Literature students, mark this place.

Enter the world of famous monarchs and the great poets.

Enter the world of famous monarchs and the great poets.

4. Glasgow Necropolis: This Victorian cemetery made me want to die in Glasgow and get buried there so that I can come back as a zombie and take some photos of the most beautiful graveyard I have seen in my whole life.

One day, I shall lie at an awesome necropolis like this - add to bucket list :D

One day, I shall lie at an awesome necropolis like this – add to bucket list 😀

3. Canterbury Cathedral: The leading cathedral of England, and what reminds us of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is no far behind in its beauty and splendour, as comes to our minds every time we read about the pilgrims to the shrine of Saint Thomas Beckett.

The Canterbury Tales - only if I had a time machine at that moment.

The Canterbury Tales – only if I had a time machine at that moment.

2. York Minster: Even as it was not among my top places to visit, this one quickly became my favourite cathedral of all time, as this Gothic structure and the second-highest office of the Anglican Church needs another visit.

Couldn't go to the top of the building as it closed early :(

Couldn’t go to the top of the building as it closed early 😦

1. The Lake District: The home to the Lake Poets, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Robert Southey; can any English Literature student ask for anything more than to be motivated and blessed by what inspired the best?

I would guess that the sheep did find something fishy about me :D

I would guess that the sheep did find something fishy about me 😀