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The Kolkata (Calcutta) Experience – Part 1

Well its been just over a week since I landed back in Melbourne and I thought it time to blog about my experience in Kolkata. Lets start off with an overview: I was in Kolkata for 4 days for business (if you don’t count travel and spending a night in the hotel), I stayed at the Taj Bengal hotel (5 Star) & I was there with my Boss.

A typical day:

  • Wake at 8ish
  • Breakfast till 9:30
  • Arrive at our Development company’s offices at 10ish
  • Work through till 9 – 10pm at night
  • Go back to the hotel, eat, sleep
  • Wash, rinse, repeat.

So during this time, the main experiences were had at the Hotel, the Office & being transported between the two.

Part 1 – The Taj Bengal Hotel, Kolkata

Kolkata, India

The first impression I got of the Taj was that of an American Airport… Security Everywhere. Upon arriving at the gates in one of the office employee’s car, we were screened for explosives, the staff looked in the trunk, the bonnet & under the car. Once we got out of the car, you had to place your belongings in a tray & put your bags through the x-ray machine.

There’s good reason for all of the security though, in 2008 the Taj Mahal Hotel (same chain) in Mumbai was attacked as part of the 2008 Mumbai Terrorist Attacks.

We walked through the metal detectors and checked-in. At this point, it changed from feeling like an American Airport to something like being royalty coming to an impoverished country with lots of money.

First off, the staff had remembered my Boss from the last visit he made around 8 months ago, by name. Then every 10 steps we took it was “Good Evening Sir”, “Is there anything I can do for you sir”, “Yes sir 3 bags full sir” etc… I was amazed at how many staff there were working there, most seeming to be doing very little, or nothing at all.

Taj Bengal Pool, KolkataThe Taj Bengal was quite stunning, nothing but Marble, high ceilings, impressive chandeliers & the like.

The view of the pool & Kolkata from our hotel room was also quite impressive, not that Kolkata is much to look at, its mostly run-down buildings that look like they’ve been set alight several times.

The food at the Taj was absolutely spectacular, especially the Chinese food (would you believe?). Breakfast each morning was absolutely awesome.

I would have a custom made omellette (there was a lady whose sole responsibility was to make omellettes by request). bacon, toast, lychees, pomegranate (pre peeled etc), pineapple, grapes, smoked salmon and usually a cup of Ceylon tea. On that note, you haven’t tasted tea, until you’ve been to India. Wow. The man from Dilmah keeps telling me to try it and try it I did. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, see linky: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGnF3lKZCJk

Well thats it for Part 1 of my 3 part series. Here’s some more photos of the Taj: