Would you believe me if I told you Calcutta was green?

I’m amazed at how beautiful this city is. Sure, central Calcutta is clogged with traffic and noisy as hell, but my 30 minute drive from the airport was quite (surprisingly) pastoral. (My calm may have been increased by the fact that the hotel sent a Mercedes to pick me up!) Miles and miles of green fields and sparse agricultural work were all I saw for the first part of the journey. I saw this verdant spaciousness from the sky as we landed, but I also saw the most sprawlingly huge city I’ve ever laid eyes on. That said, even the city is green, with lots and lots of old-growth trees. That, combined with the colonial architecture makes for quite a sight. The roads were surprisingly uncongested (a relative term, and, it must be said, it’s Saturday) and once we hit the central city, it was a bit of a shock.

Outside my window, it’s now pissing rain and the nonstop clamor of car horns is about to drive me up a wall, but it’s really quite beautiful nonetheless. I’m in the city’s shopping/entertainment district: next door to my hotel is the massive Oxford Bookstore, across the street is an apartment building called Queen’s Mansions, underneath which is a coffee shop (Baristas, a chain), a toy store and several other shops. And that’s just what I can see from my window. (It’s not exactly walking-around weather.)

Thankfully, the two coolest bars in town are right here at my hotel; but there are other hotspots recently opened around the city.

TV sight: Shah Rukh Khan using a snake-charmer flute to make bottles of Pepsi march toward him … and then to make a girl’s shirt come off.

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