Saturday, July 2, 2011

Indian Coffee House

(PICTURE: The Indian Coffee House.)

So how did I get my first case of the runs? Well, I'm not 100% sure but it was either from:

a) A cup of coffee at the legendary Indian Coffee House.
b) A meal from a local restaurant some guy suggested.
c) From a street side coconut I ate. Lets just say the guy cutting it open didn't look like he washed his hands since, well, ever.

Anyway, let me briefly talk about A. My friend Jessica (from Hanoi!) used to live in Kolkata and put me in touch with a friend of hers who was still there. Unfortunately her friend was out of town but he sent me an email with some suggestions. One of the suggestions was that we had to go to the coffee house. Well, after doing some sightseeing we started walking to the place. The streets were a little confusing so we asked some college-aged students who were standing on a corner. One of the guys, lets call him ASSHOLE #1, said to us: "Oh, the Indian Coffee House isn't near here. It's like forty minutes away. You need to take a bus." Well, thankfully I know how to read a map and knew ASSHOLE #1 was full of shit. A second clue was probably when he and his friends started to laugh as soon as we had walked about three feet away. I can only pray that one day ASSHOLE #1 will be traveling in the USA and ask for directions and get pointed down a very shady, dark alleyway where he'll meet some guy with a face tattoo named Spike. Anyway, I digress...

Soooo, ignoring our not so helpful advice, we proceeded in the general direction that I thought the coffee house was in (to be clear, we had a very faded map with only large streets on it. We even went to the tourist office the day before and they didn't have a good map for us). After walking for a few more minutes, I asked another person for directions and he started to give it to us in 99% Hindi. Thankfully a really nice guy, lets call him NICE GUY, came up and asked where we wanted to go. Actually, scratch that. NICE GUY's name was Ankit so lets call him by his name and give him the recognition he deserves. So, Ankit spoke nearly perfect English and said he'd walk with us half the way since he was going that way to school. Ankit told me that he used to work for HP as a customer service rep and got to talk to tons of Americans. Heck, I might have even talked to him before on the other end of an 800 number. Anyway, Ankit took us very close to the shop and then bid adieu. Let me just say, it's people like Ankit who make traveling so rewarding. Unfortunately for the first time ever, this trip had too many people like ASSHOLE #1 and not enough Ankits.

After parting with Ankit, we had to walk for just a few more minutes until we came to the coffee house. Here's the LP description of the place: "The mythic Indian Coffee House was once a meeting place of freedom fighters, bohemians and revolutionaries. Today its crusty high ceilings and grimy walls ring with deafening student conversation but despite the dishwater coffee, it’s perversely fascinating."

The coffee house was definitely a cool place to check out and indeed the coffee was crap...and might have given me the runs.