A Place to Avoid in Kolkata

25 Oct

So, I just wanted to convey a little story about our first day in Kolkata.  Astrid and I were coming in by airplane because we couldn’t get a train ticket.  Being the end of Durga Puja, many Bengali’s were making their way back from holiday and many of the hotels in Kolkata were still full of tourists, etc.

I frantically tried to call hotel after hotel to get a place to rest our heads, but to no avail.  Either I couldn’t get anyone on the phone, I couldn’t HEAR them once I got them on the phone, or they were fully booked.  Desperately, I finally got through to a place called Capital Guest House near Sudder Street in the Chowringhee area of Kolkata.  They seemed great on the phone, getting us an AC room for Rs. 700 a night and offering to pick us up at the airport for another Rs. 400.  This seemed a little high to me, but beggars can’t be choosers so we decided to take our chances and go with it.

Fast forward to our arrival in Kolkata- everything is smooth, the guy picks us up at the airport as agreed and drives us to the hotel.  The whole time I have this feeling that the place is a dump- it might have been because of the road worthiness of the car which was dubious at best, or the fact that our driver was cross-eyed, greasy, and obviously woke up on the wrong side of the deodorant stick that morning.  Diesel smoke from the cars around us mixed in with the exhaust that was coming into the car from the engine compartment.  Then, without warning the tire popped and we had to wait for the driver to fix it on a busy Kolkata street with buses, cars, and trucks whizzing by all gloriously honking as they went.

After about 20 minutes, we finally got back on the road and made our way to the hotel.  As we pulled in our hearts sank.  The hotel was so shitty from the outside, I wouldn’t want my worst enemy staying there.  I thought “let’s give it a chance and see the inside…” it was no better- tight, scummy hallways with red paan (betel nut wrapped in leaves that WAY too many Indian men chew) stains on the walls, and seedy looking bellhops.  Our bellhop opened the door to our room and I had to stifle a scream. Totally disgusting, dirty, and unkempt, plaster peeling off the walls that were first painted sometime around the partition of India sixty years ago and then left to molder.  The bathroom had a smell that I can’t quite explain with words- kind of that ammonia/ urine smell, but doubled or tripled.  The AC we were promised was barely kicking out cold air.  It was foul- and we were stuck for the night.  When we completed the paperwork, the manager wanted three days rent up front- “No fucking way!,” I thought and agreed to pay for one night and the ripoff pickup from the airport.

After checking in we went straight out to try to find someplace better to stay and have dinner.  After failing to find anything else (but with promise for the next day), we slunk back to our hotel, tails between our legs and went to bed.  Being surprised with dirty sheets and a smorgasboard of bugs that seemed to come from nowhere.

We awoke the next morning VERY early and went straight to the guest house with promise.  We were shown a VERY nice room in a new section of the hotel with a queen size bed, AC that worked, new bathroom, clean, smelled nice, etc.- it was beautiful.  We took it- right then and went back to our hotel to quickly pack and check out.  We sprinted downstairs, threw our room key to the manager at full trot, and ran from the hotel as fast a possible.  As we were leaving, the manager called after us, “Where will you go?”  Without turning around, we both yelled in unison, “SUPER GUEST HOUSE!”

If the story was not explicit enough, DO NOT stay at Capital Guest House in Kolkata- they will rip you off and smile to your face while doing it.  Spend a little extra and stay at Super Guest House.



6 Responses to “A Place to Avoid in Kolkata”

  1. Debasish October 25, 2007 at 12:02 pm #

    Your exp in Capital Guest House is really bad. That sometimes happen in here to the visitors. Sad. BTW I’m from Kolkata. Hope you u have a great tour of Kolkata and India. Hope you love the place.

  2. little indian October 25, 2007 at 10:29 pm #

    I am adding your blog to my blogsurfer page.

    I am originally a Kolkatan. So I’ll be following your blogs with interest. Have a great time. It is a great city, sadly becoming touristy, with all its associated problems.

    We have both, the good and the bad side by side; there will be the honest guys, as will the ripoff merchants. It is the festival season, there will be many of them around for a fast rupee. (or dollar these days)

    Rule of thumb, do not trust anyone.
    The difference in the price between horrible and good, (once converted to $/£) is very little, trying to go for the cheapest is not always the best option.
    Sudder street is not the safest of areas.
    Do not trust zebra crossings, cars will not automatically give way.

    If you are stuck for advice, put up a message here, I will try and help.

  3. Kat November 27, 2007 at 12:08 am #

    Do you have any history on Capital Guest House? Apparently this was my home as a baby 42 years ago. This is the address from my Baptismal Certificate so I decided to Google it and found it has been turned into a hotel (disgusting at that). We left India 41 years ago and have not visited the land of my birth (yet). Any info would help!

  4. Idetrorce December 16, 2007 at 2:07 am #

    Very interesting, but I don’t agree with you.

  5. indiatraveller December 16, 2007 at 12:09 pm #

    Idetrorce, funny, but I never asked you to agree with me. This blog is just my opinion. Thanks for reading.

  6. natarajan March 16, 2008 at 3:13 am #

    some times one may have to pray and hope for the best to happen.

    when, what will happen to bring a surprise god knows.

    but the spirit always makes one to move forword come what may!

    let godliness be with you.

    have peep in to….


    ……for deeper meanings of life.

    all(masters) have spoken the same differently!

    eg – tatvam asi- i am that i am

    ‘kingdom of god is within you’- the bible.

    you own the universe .

    this fact is covered and clouded by the mind and ego.

    a slight shift to contemplation should do wonders.

    that’s what is sprituality!

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