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well that's it then

INDIA | Wednesday, 9 December 2015 | Views [324]

This evening I ate a vegetable biryani and another dish I didn't really need from Arkashan restaurant on Rippon Street. The Earl/Marquis/Lord? of Rippon was I believe a Viceroy of India at one point. I discovered this at the Victoria Memorial to my pleasure as my sister in law, Anita, is from Rippon. WYBI!

Today was THE day that I ventured out to rediscover my roots/routes namely my actual place of birth, places where we lived, the circket club my Dad captained and where I used to play (not cricket) as a toddler and Tollygunge Country Club where I also used to play (not cricket) and where my parents played golf and sought I suppose pleaure, relief and sanctuary.

It all began this morning, as usual rather later than I would have wished, and after what has become a routine of going back to bed a few times, ablutions, teetwash, yoga, chi gung and meditation (this morning a rather absorbed and pleasant one).

I hailed a cab using the Ola internet app and raced downstairs this time using the lift rather than walking the five flghts as I usually do in order to catch the cab that waa due to arrive in three minutes. 

I prompltly almost jumped in the wrong cab (beckoned to as I was by a toothless driver) but thankfully, and I'm rather pleased abuot this, did not. After several abortive calls with the cab dirver which neiher of us could make much sense of we finally united thanks to him repeating the number plate that had been texted to me in confimation of my booking.

The next thing was trying to explain to him where I wanted to go. I finally plumped on the Woodlands Nursing Home, logistically the first stop on my life trip and I was reckoning the easiest to find. 156 rupees worth of cab fare later found it we had and having understood that the driver would not wait for me I took my fate into my own hands (rather dramatic Iknow) and left the sanctuary of the yellow cab for the streets of Alipore.

My first stop was actually Alipore Estates which seem to lie on the doorsteps of the Woodlands nursing home. If this is correct than my mother did not have too far to go to give birth to us all. I think I managed to convey to the security guard that I had once lived there and though he was friendly he was pretty convinced that at least two other families had lived in the apartments since we moved out and that I could neither wander around the complex or take photographs. I accepted this with good grace and happily took a quick snap when he had to rush off to his cabin to answer the phone. 

From there to the Woodlands Nursing Home where I was able to wander around and have a pineapple danish in the lounge area. I considered going up to maternity but rejected it as being superfluous though as I write these words I feel a wave of regret. Would that not have been great? Actually I could not find the maternity unit listed on the lift register, only several super luxury rooms which I rationalised it would have been more likely the temporary abode of my mother. 

Anyway, that word again, I left without even a picture of the hospital (also forbidden me) in order to take advantage of a passing cab driven by a wild looking long haired Bengali. I was not being fussy. I don't think he quite understood Balygunge Cricket Club but he got enough of it to usher me in. Around 100 rupees later and with the driver having asked various locals for directions he did indeed drop me outside the Calcutta Cricket and Football Club in Ballygunge which we were assured was the right place by the security guard.

The guard ushered me through some imperially inscribed gates that looked very promising and from there to the office of the secretary of the CEO of the club, Mr P Banerjee, who very kindly gave me a tour of pavilion, changing rooms and ground. I have taken a load of pictures, principally for my Dad, the most striking one beign of the board of the club's captains on the outside wall where my father's name, M.D.Ford is inscribed not necessarily for history but for a good time yet I hope. Seeing my Dad's name there brought tears to my eyes and does so again now as I write. Not sure why. ANYWAY the cricket club is a beautiful oval with a plush clubhouse (with dart board) and three wickets raised rather above the rest of the ground by years of groundwork (whatever groundsmen do with wickets). I do have pictures which I hope to post. 

After about an hour I parted with Mr Bannerjee with his card and the advice on which side of the road  to hail a cab to Tollygunge and as importantly the admonition to seek out Mr AR Mukherjee the CEO of Tollygunge. I had to be patient before I successfully hailed a cab, it seems it is not just I who wants to use them and can afford to do so. Once again it took a while for my driver to understand that I wanted to go to Tollygunge. 'Aaah, Tallygunge', he finally repeated.

Same story in finding Tollygunge. About 100 rupees worth of drive where I was not sure if we were going in right direction and about 20 rupees worth where I knew we were close. Initially, we went to the Golf Club but thankfully were redirected to the Country Club where with Mr Bannerjee's card and Mr Mukherjee's name (he was on lunch) i got permission to stroll around the club and golf club. 

Again I spent about an hour or longer wandering around, noting the Bengali up to his waist in a pond on one hole I presumed feeling for golf balls with his toes and enjoying the plush club house with its leather chairs and comfortable divans, duelling pistols and lances on the walls along with a couple of picuteres of the city of London, Muhal prince and princess, and several race horses. 

My feelings throughout were rathe apologetic. I had not grounds for being there except that my parents had been members of the club, both cricket and country, when the white man still rather lorded it over the native population. Now, of course, most members were Indian and I was part of a past which I was unsure how it was perceived (that does not seem like good English). Of course, I also enjoyed the sense of priviledge that my appearance gave me, that I was believed and could walk about to my heart's content and also be the subjecto of good will and hospitality as a result of something my parents had been a part of and played a part in - not me I was just a toddler and now an unemployed traveller. 

ANYWAY, Tollygunge very helpfully called a taxi for me which they need not have done but I'm pleased with myself I asked for (sort of).

150 rupees later I was dropped off at Brook Street, was instantly propostioned for some girls who would do whatever I wanted of course aftert the usual prelim of where are you from, how do you like Kolkata? I answered his questions but declined his kind offer.

That pretty much, in a long sort of way, takes me up to where I begain with vegetable biryiani and too much food. 

I finish with food and a winge. Marvelous!!

Love to all x


Tags: nostalgia, revisitng past places

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