Saturday, July 24, 2010

Life in a Metro

Kolkata always gets step-brotherly treatment as compared to it's higher and mightier metro cousins namely Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore et al.

Kolkata and me go back 37 years. I have been a thorough bred Kolkatan - born and raised here, even married to a native Bong. During my lifetime, the city has earned several dubious distinctions - one of being the most polluted city, highest density of people per sq. km. of land, the "Bandh" capital of the country, the least number of swanky malls and five star destinations, the only city which still has hand-pulled rickshaws and trams, West Bengal being the only state still being ruled by the leftists (their days are now counted) the writing is on the wall, even though I don't like what is coming down the pipe ; the only city where "Messi" or "Zidane" or "Kaka" are equally revered if not even more than demi-god that Sachin Tendulkar has come about to be in the cricketing circuit.

Kolkata and its people love to dwell in the past and keep counting old glories namely - The first city in the Republic of India to go 'Cellular' back in July of 1995 when cell phones were the size and weight of a beer mug and you could easily attack if not kill a perpetrator with it; Got it's underground 'Tube' (a.k.a Metro) back in 1984 after remaining under construction for 23 years; Vivekananda Setu being the one of it's kind cable-stayed bridges which was 14 years in construction was finally open to public in 1992.

I better stop boring you with details, unless I want to risk people to stop reading my banal blog ! In certain ways the Kolkata of tomorrow has 'arrived' or is 'arriving' in fits and starts. With all it's trappings, I am still trapped in Kolkata, for reasons of my own. What I simply want to do is write about destinations that depict the changing face of Kolkata (at least in a certain way), once every week to share my love for the city. Will write about the old Calcutta the new Kolkata; the good Calcutta, the bad Kolkata and vice-versa.

Enough said, this past Sunday I decided to drive down to Metro - Cash and Carry, the first of it's kind wholesale format backed by German majors. They have set-up shops in Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata.

Now let us rewind back to 2007, which is when the idea was first planted in the minds of our ruling CM - Mr. BB. La 'Inception' the idea was organically planted into his brain and he wanted to see it to fruition. There were several bumps and potholes on the road to it's opening even more so than the same found on the mean streets of Kolkata. Well, s*** happens .... and when it does - it rolls down the hill.

Finally after a lot of deliberation and a final 'pull-out' threat by the German company, the powers that be gave their blessings (Forward Bloc and it's allies), even more unwillingly than parents of a daughter who ran away and got married out of her own volition.

The main entrance gate into the super market

As seen above, Metro has extended onto it's own parking lot

This is their section for SUPER bulk buy, where you can sacks of potatoes, onions, rice, pulses, salt and sugar.

Almost empty parking lot (early Sunday morning)

Go - Cart !

Even though Metro has now been around for a couple of years, this has been my first structured visit to the super-market. Now for our brothers/sisters who live and work in US of A, this is a sibling of 'Costco' and 'Sam's Club'. First off you need to have a 'membership' which is essentially free, so long you have a registered 'Business License'. Now this might seem back to the 'License Raj' that India was back in the 70's. All registered businesses in the state, need to acquire a 'Business / Trade License' - which then opens the gates to this supermarket for them. The reason for this being the Govt. of India, still has not opened up 100% FDI in the retail segment. However the wholesale format has been opened up for international players. For more information on how to become a Metro member, click here.

Wide open aisles

Bulk Bargain

Changing tracks now - I had asked my brother-in-law (who was visiting us from Stateside) to break bread with us on Sunday dinner. So this called for cooking up a storm. Chinese dinner was on the menu for the night - with Fried Rice, Dry Chilli Chicken, and Chilly Fish. And simple Vanilla bean ice-cream as the dessert. With a plan in my mind and cash in my wallet, I headed straight down the pike to 'A morning at Metro'. The reason for cash being; Metro only accepts hard cash or Citibank cards. I don't do Citibank, so cash was the only option.

From this point on, I will let the pictures speak for themselves, with only intermittent comments. Enjoy the pic-story and my observations (you can click on the pictures to enlarge them).

TVs for sale

Bikes R Us

Are we there yet ?

The 'Spirit' of Kolkata

Wholesale alcohol, by the barrel !

The 'Meat' section does pack a punch, with a sense of humor about it, find it in the following pictures.

Fresh meat, and Fresher prices ...

This one completely cracked me up ! Yes, indeed the meat section is cold, but this had be customized for India, if not for Kolkata. So if you don't care for these jackets, remember to carry your own woolens (and monkey-caps) when visiting Metro.

Something Fishy !

Just Prawns !

Remember your veggies !

And fruits ...

Sunday, "ho yaa" Monday, "roj khao andey" !

Cheesy !

Got Milk ?

It's payback time !

Next Week, Next stop - The 'Old' New Market, all aboard ...

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