The walk begins here.
As I notice the rather large group of people gathered in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral, there’s a coolness in the air and a little breeze which teases the ends of my jacket. I am forever afraid of the cold, so I push my hands down the wide pockets, and a delicate shiver runs down my spine. I have been here many times before, and I shall be here many, many times in the future, but that does not stop me from grinning at Iftekhar Ahsan, who is conducting this walk down my memory lane.
Years ago, in another place, in another time, a girl walked down these lanes, happy, sad, in love, in heartbreak. It was, to her, a short span of time, which was over too soon. It ended with her feeling even more confused than she had felt before, without an anchor, or a hope for the future. But, as she had always done, she walked. Sometimes she walked towards something, sometimes, she walked away, and sometimes, she didn’t know where she was going, but she knew that as long as she walked, she would reach somewhere. And somewhere was better than nowhere, which is where she did not want to be. She hopped and skipped and jumped, and sometimes she fell. It was all right though, for she merely brushed the dirt from her torn skin, mended herself as best as she could, took a deep breath, and continued.
Thinking of a million different people, and a thousand different things, she walked to Sudder Street. Here, the lights were dimming, and the faint smell of smoke permeated the crisp, dry air, as the lights from the streets illuminated the tired city, hungry for sustenance.
And sustenance came in the form of chicken puffs at Nahoum’s. They were hot, the steam escaping the moment one would bite into it, there would be an explosion of flavours and heat. Through the jostling crowd, when one emerged with a bounty of these, bouncing gently inside a white cardboard box, there would be a smile on the face which held the prize, one which would perhaps rival that of a supreme ruler, after a long, harrowing battle.
And then we took roads which meandered and leaned against each other, paths slowly moving this way and that. I thought I was lost.
But then, when you are lost, sometimes, you find the most precious little things in corners which you never knew existed. You find the pieces which string your life together, making a moment worth remembering.
The Park Christmas Food Walk took a brief detour into Kolkata Christmas Carnival. Of course, this meant more food, which was ordered and duly consumed.
And then, there was a walk back to an old, familiar place, which was warm and well-lit, and, we warmed ourselves after the rather long excursion we have had.
And then there was Broccoli Soup.
This was creamy, luscious, and rich, with lashings of salty, rich Stilton which provided the necessary bit of decadence, and warmed the chilled soul to the core of one’s being.
Of course, some chose the Pork Chops, with a maple glaze which was sweet, and the sweetness of the pork fat against it was glorious.
There might have been some moaning involved here.
But then there was the turkey. Perfectly moist, tender, with an au jus poured generously on top, a huddle of greens trying to make one feel healthy and wholesome where everything else is trying to scream otherwise.
And there was, perhaps, my reason for this walk.
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee was invited to the Park Christmas Food Walk by the management.