Part 2: Packing, Chennai and a Bucket of Biryani

So on with the story. Every time a holiday comes up, the following conversation happens between me and my husband:

Hubby: “So we are going to pack just 3 pants and 3 shirts each for three of us and you are also going to pack something similar.”

Me: “Are you crazy??? 3 dresses for a 15 Day holidays!!!”

He: “So how many dresses do you need? Are you going for a holiday or a fashion show?

Me: “I can’t be seeing wearing the same dresses every day or every photo!! What will people think??”

He: “Are you going to see a new place or are you going on a holiday to show people how many clothes you have??”

And so on and so forth. This is the basic story before any packing and the problem of being the only woman in a family of 4 is that, they don’t understand the need of a woman to be in a different dress every time we are taking a picture in our holiday!! So ultimately we compromised to 4 shirts and pants set each for the three of them and I could carry four tops, two pants and a dress maybe as well as our swimming costumes.We ended up with a large suitcase and small suitcase as well as a bag which is actually was my mum’s and had the clothes we were going to wear on a flight to Chennai and which we were to leave in Kolkata. Tip no 1; if you are going to multiple cities with different activities, pack the dresses accordingly. For example, I packed some day dresses, like comfy cotton clothes for going around in Singapore (our first stop), and kept all our swimming costumes in the bottom.

So the D-Day arrived. We had reached Tenjing Norgey Bus Stand well ahead in time from where we’re going to take the Volvo to Kolkata. The AC buses in this route are quite comfortable; they provide a blankets and a bottle of water and a cake as well. Most of them have a TV where they put on latest blockbusters and charging points which mostly work. Last time I traveled, I had reached Kolkata very early by 5 AM.; but this time I knew we were going to be late because the roads between Kolkata and Siliguri was in a bad shape. So bus left in good time and thankfully there was no traffic jam and they put on a movie and everything was going on Ok.

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Then they stopped for dinner, which generally is somewhere near Malda, but this time they took a different road and the only shop that was open in this route, was the most horrible one I have ever been to!! It was a small dhaba and there were three or four buses standing there and everyone had to practically snatch the food from the servers as they were delivered!! If you have eaten in such roadside Dhabas you will know that they have standard dishes like roti or rice combo of roti/rice, dal, a fry, a sabzi along with a non veg dish, if you want. The roti is delivered faster so we ordered 4 roti and dal fry. It took 40 minutes, when generally dhabas take less than 10 min to deliver!! That too after my husband had to shout at the owner, literally escort the waiter so that others did not take our order and the worst part, the food was horrendous!! But since the alternate was going hungry all night, we tucked in. So Tip No 2: pack some foods while traveling by bus in this route.

Bathroom in such places is always a nightmare and this was one was the worst!! There was no lights and no water and the smell was what you can expect from a public urinal!! Thankfully I had with me up my PeeBuddy which is why I didn’t had to squat and do my business in that stink hole!! Seriously, if you are traveling, especially in India, make sure you have this product and PeeSafe with you! You can check this video of mine for more info. And this is my Tip no 3 for any road travel/train travel in India.

We reached Kolkata pretty late around 12 PM. My maternal cousin, who was staying with us then, had cooked a lavish lunch for us as well as a good breakfast for my sons because my sons love the food cooked by their “mama”. So we had a brunch of rice, luchi and everything in between. My husband made the dinner which was his famous “kosha mangsho” (spicy dry mutton curry). Next day, my husband’s flight was around 11 AM so he left home after a good breakfast and I left around 1 PM after lunch with my two sons (our flight was at 4). I thought of checking out the food court because I never been to the food court of Kolkata Airport and let me give you Tip no 4; if you are looking for good food in a budget (well airport food budget where everything is always overpriced anyway) then I’ll suggest go to WOW Momo. They have good food for around 100-150 whereas others have way much price for less amount of food.

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The flight to Chennai was uneventful; we were given a little refreshment and what I noticed is that, the air hostesses were all quite old, in their middle ages but very efficient and courteous. Susanta was waiting just outside Chennai airport and we walked to the airport retiring room that I had spoken about in my last post. As in any Government properties, this one needed a lot of paperwork to be done before you get to the room. The room was very good; it was just a stone throw away from the airport that can accommodate 2 adults and 2 children aged 10 and 14 very easily, for Rs 1500 a night. The room had all the amenities like AC, geyser in the bathroom, TV and ample space to keep your suitcase and everything. As for food, there was a canteen downstairs but it had only vegetarian options and also inside the building, there was a small kiosks selling bottle water fruit juices cold drinks, water, etc. Jugs of drinking water are offered in room, plus tea or coffee, otherwise, get water from a shop outside as the water and other products are costlier here. This is my Tip No 5.

We were not eating in that canteen, so I did Google search and found Al Arabian Delights that delivered to our location. I called up and thankfully the person spoke English as well as Hindi quite well so he suggested that we ordered their family bucket which came with Biryani with 6 pieces of chicken + 4 boiled eggs + 2 plates of chicken 65 each having about a 6 pieces. It sounded really really good and all this for a 600 rupees!! We also ordered a pet jar of Coke and two diet Coke for me and hubby. The problem arose with the delivery guy who did not speak English or Hindi that well so he had to give his phone to complete strangers to talk to us so that we could tell him where we were and co-ordinate accordingly. Delivering to the room by the delivery guy wasn’t possible as I said it was a government institute and they didn’t allow anyone outside. So we had to go outside and get the food and bring it in. When we opened the package we saw it was literally a bucket of biryani; like a small red bucket filled with biryani and had all the eggs and chicken 65 dishes!! Now we didn’t have any cutlery or plates with us and they hadn’t provided any (they had apologized for that); so it had to be communal eating with four of us tucking in from the bucket!! The taste was fantastic, the Biryani was subtly spiced and the best was the Chicken 65. But the quantity was too much for even foodies like us, and we wasted about 20% of it!! So Tip No 6, if you plan to order from here, make sure you order depending on how many people you have. This is enough for 6 people!

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So it was off to bed after and woke up refreshed!! We had ample time to get ready, but there was no water in the bathroom! Not even for morning business!! So woke up my sons and sent one to ask for water. Turns out, the water supply is virtually absent in the morning. So Tip No 6, if you are staying here, make sure you fill up the bucket in the bathroom the night before. Anyway, we were provided with a big, I won’t say bucket, because it was one of those green big garbage collection boxes you see outside, and it was really difficult to take water from it to the bathroom. While I dressed up, father and sons went downstairs canteen for a full South Indian breakfast of idly and vada and got some for me. Everything done, we were walking down to the International terminal (the retiring room is between the domestic and International terminal), when a battery operated ride stopped and asked if we needed a lift. I am glad I opted for it, because the terminal was farther than we imagined!! So Tip number 7, hail a passenger assistance battery car. They are free, it is not obligatory to tip the person driving, but he was so good and helpful, that we had to slip something in his hand. Immigration was smooth and hassle free and it was about an hour wait for the flight. Checked out the Duty free which was very limited but we got some good vodka from there!! You can bring one bottle of alcohol with you to Singapore, where booze is really costly, so we got it here. That could be my last Tip in this post. As for how was Chennai Airport and the room, do check this video in my channel.

See you next in Singapore. Do leave a comment on how you are liking my travelogue so far!!

Disclaimer: Affiliate links present.

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