Changing money in Kolkata
Whenever you change money in Kolkata you have to declare the transaction on a receipt. They call it an encashment certificate. "We hereby certify that we have purchased today foreign currency... bla, bla...", and you have to show your passport, write down passport number, name and sign the letter. Bureaucracy!
Indian Coffee House at College Street!
Situated at 15 Bankim Chatterjee St, Kolkata, India( Just opposite Presidency CollageThe most famous Coffee House branch in Kolkata is the one at the College Street, also known as the "Coffee House at College Street". It is situated opposite the Presidency College, Kolkata and has been for a long time a regular hang out for students (and ex-students) of the Presidency College, University of Calcutta, and other institutions in College Street.
The history of the Coffee House at College Street can be traced to Albert Hall, which was founded in April 1876. Later, the Coffee Board decided to start a coffee joint from the Albert Hall in 1942. Notable citizens, including Rabindranath Tagore and Subhas Chandra Bose, were frequent visitors to the place. In 1947, the Central Government changed the name of the place to "Coffee House". The place became a meeting place for the poets, artistes, literati and people from the world of art and culture. In 1958, the management decided to shut down the Coffee House, but it was re-opened the same year, after professors of Presidency College and Calcutta University rushed off a special petition to the government, to save the heritage place.
The place is also associated with many famous personalities of Calcutta and India. Some great personalities who were regular are Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Manna Dey , Aparna Sen and many many more.
In 2006 condition of the place was so dilapidated that many corporate house showed interest to renovate it. Finally it was renovated by Asian Paints in 2008/2009.
The place now has totally new look but without changing the aura of the place. Now it also has several paintings. Apart from genuine filter South Indian Coffee, they also serve lunch and dinner or just plain snacks ( See the menu and more pics in next tips). You can sit over there with a cup of coffee for entire afternoon, nobody really minds. We had our lunch there with Mix Chowmin and Garlic Chicken. It tasted great though not up to the mark of genuine Chinese food what is available in Mainland China. But who complains when the price is about a dollar per plate?
Like anywhere in India, taxi's are cheap if you negociate a price before your trip as the driver invariably turns on the meter. They're even cheaper if you take a pre-paid taxi from outside Howrah Station. A taxi from here to Sudder Street cost me Rs65. I also took a taxi to get to the Pareshnath Jain Temple and the fare was calculated using the meter and a conversion chart which was a little off-putting. Autorickshaws only operate in Howrah and some of the suburbs and don't operate in the city centre which is quite spread out so your only choices to get around are rather horrid buses and trams or the more expensive taxi's.
Shiraz and Mezban are the two best muslim restaurants in town making some awesome chicken biryani.
Shiraz is a restaurant where families can sit either indoors in an air-conditioned environment or outdoors and eat biryani.
Mezban is more a take-out ambience. Chicken Biryani is the bomb in both restaurants!!
Chinese Food Made by Chinese for Chinese!!!
In our quest for better Chinese food we have now discovered one of the better eating places in China Town( Tangra), of Kolkata. Yesterday ( Sunday 13.05.07) we went to Shun Li ( Smooth Sailing) Restaurant of Tangra. I got the tip from Mr.Star Zinkojai, Vice President of Holcim Thailand, who is now posted in Kolkata with our Co, ACC LTD. Mr. Star himself is a Chinese from Chiang Mai( Thailand). This place makes Chinese Food for Chinese people so the taste of the food is just Authentic Chinese. We introduced ourselves to Mr.Matthew Chen and his sister Mitchell Wong, and what they suggested, is a marvellous authentic lunch at a very reasonable price. We also become very friendly as we also invited them to ourplace for Bengali treat. Here the food is cooked by Matthew's mother and his sister Mitchell and most of the clients are Chinese people of that area or visiting foreigners. Though Beijing, Hot Wok Village & Big Boss do much better business as their food is almost Indianised Chinese, here they maintain the best of the aroma and taste of North & South China. Here we tried Chinese Spinach Curry from Hakka region, Choi Sui fish, Vegetable Prawn, Mixed noodle with gravy and plain steamed rice. we could not eat this much and we had to bring back home some of the delicacies. We learnt that the Spinach is imported from Bangkok! It was simply superb and Choi Sui fish was really excellent. We had to take Rice noodle for Munu as she loves noodle, which she ate with Chop Sticks!! Our newly made Chinese friends were simply impressed!
we have now decided to visit this place more frequently and take our friends too!! Matthew's mom cooks so well that we have to make it again & again.