The first time I noticed it was when it was wandering around my terrace on a pleasant autumn evening. A stark outline of a flying brain against a vibrant, beautiful sky. At the first instance, I thought it to be some sort of kite, a common site in the Kolkata (Capital city of West Bengal, India) sky during the Vishwakarma Puja (Worship of God Vishwakarma). But as it came nearer, I perceived it’s true identity. It’s a balloon.
“Or is it a brain?” I wondered.
“Silly, it’s a brain balloon!” rebuked a tiny voice inside my head.
Wonder-struck, and my mind wondering whether I am alive or this is some sort of U.F.O or maybe a Chariot to Heaven, I found myself stretching my hand towards it. And, it came down, as if waiting for my hand to hold it. The string touched my palm and I clenched my fists around it. The balloon waited, as if for a signal. Time, my friends, stood still…. The wind whistled past and the Sun waited too. The tiny voice in my head, impatient of this dramatic scene, whispered again.
“Let’s go for a ride, bud!”
To my own astonishment, my hand tugged at the string and …… KABOOOM!!!! I was soaring in the air, the wind roared past my ears like ballistic missiles. Down below, the earth seemed to be accelerating its rotational routine and the clouds seemed to part to give way to us.
Kolkata seemed like a vast multitude of concrete waves from up above.
How weird is the thought that we want to see the world with our own eyes, but not knowing the city you live in? This was the time I first felt the urge to explore Kolkata. To know my city. My home. From up above, I looked down at its vast expanse. The roads and by lanes. Its colors and shades. The City of Joy is truly wondrous.
Hanging down from a weird balloon has its own benefits. One could introspect and look at the other. The city, in its full bloom from above is a sight to remember. In a mood to introspect, I realized that the boy and the balloon is the other – I, myself is the Other to the city. Victoria Memorial Hall, beside the lush green Brigade Parade Ground or Maidan looks beautiful and serene. I could see the fairy on top looking at me suspiciously. Probably she is not used to seeing people flying above her. But, I couldn’t help either. Will have to come back for an apology later, maybe!
Yonder stands the mighty Howrah Bridge. A sight to be cherished. Standing tall with two legs on either side of the Ganges, the spectacular structure is the landmark of Kolkata.
The boats seemed like small moving creatures on the Ganges. And there, just beside lies the Princep Ghat. The Park Street with its colonial hangover lies close by the Maidan. And there near the Esplanade lies two more treasures of Kolkata – The Shahid Minar, and the Indian Museum. Shahid Minar being a monument constructed in 1828 to commemorate the successful British defence of Delhi against the Marathas and the Indian Museum being the oldest and largest museum in India. Within a second, I found myself above College Street. Just beneath me, stands the centre of intellectual debate- The Indian Coffee House with its unique ambience. From there, I could see the house of Swami Vivekananda and as we proceeded near Shobha Bazar, there stood the Shobha Bazar Rajbari(Palace). The Brain Balloon soared higher, and faster, in flashes I saw the Jorasanko Thakurbari– home to the national poet of India, Kalighat Temple, the Town Hall, Nakhoda Masjid(Mosque), Jain Temple, Mother House (House of Mother Teresa’s tomb) pass by. A glimpse of Subhash Bose’s house. A glimpse of Dakshineshwar Temple. One last view of the vast expanse of my hometown. A distant sound of the Dhaak(Local membranophone instrument). The Durga Puja (Worship of Goddess Durga- a five day long carnival). Cut. I lay wide awake in my bed. Panting. But happy.
I wondered where the Brain Balloon went. But sometimes, while taking a stroll by the Rabindra Sarobar Lake, I do spot it here and there. The fests are near, and this is high time I should get hold of it for another long drive around the town. Till that next time, my fellow travelers, I bid thee Goodbye. Adios!