Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Shutterbug on Park Street

Walking down Park Street, I'm like this li'l Jap tourist in my shades and camera. If we start straight from the tip of Park Street, where it connects with Chowringhee Avenue, there's the great big Warren's building, housing Warrens Travels since Donkey's Ears. This place has been functional since long before independence, and though it's got several other offices in the building now, Warren's is still a fantastic part of its history.

Right opposite Warren's, there's the Asiatic Society building. And if you consult the history books, you'll learn that the Society was formed many ages ago, in 1784 to be exact, and made it quite fashionable among the British and other Europeans to delve into 'Oriental' studies.

Nestled right next to the Asiatic Society, is the Family Book Shop. :) Very family-owned, and the same homely charm of Bombay's own Strand Book Store. :) Their stall is completely mobbed every year, during the annual Calcutta Book Fair.

Queens Mansion, opposite the Park Hotel, straddles a whole block, from the Russel Street junction. This gorgeous white building houses several offices, restaurants, stores, and even a posh saloon - A. N. John's. O, and of course, we mustn't forget the little stalls selling everything from imported chocolates and false perfumes, to cigarettes and condoms. :)

The Russel Street junction is also where you have the India Hobby Centre and BigMax - Calcutta's first brush with the burger, long before McDonald's set foot in the city. The BigMax burgers were amazing - humongously large, with loads of mayo and coleslaw, and you could never not get your hands dirty eating them! :) When they opened a Rollicks ice cream parlour here, they used to dish out the largest ice cream sundaes ever - with some cones balancing upto five scoops of ice cream precariously on top! And of course, every trip ended with me and my brother gazing longingly at all the toys and games exhibited in the store windows of the Hobby Centre, on our way out... and sometimes, lighter wallets for mum and dad. :)

Gosh, and the street has these great furnishing stores - probably much cheaper than Bombay, even though these places have been around here since forver! The Oriental Carpets gallery on top is practically an institution, and so is the Nu-built store, which always has the most antique wooden four-poster beds and ornate cupboards at the windows...

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