I have gone to the Kolkata Book Fair almost every afternoon with Srutasrava Prabhu, and will probably continue to do so until the fair ends on Sunday 8th We walk to Jessore Road, get an auto rickshaw to the Belgachia station, and ride the Metro to Maidan, just a stone's throw from the fair.
Kolkata is one of the busiest cities in India, and its narrow roads (which seem to be in a perpetual state of disrepair) and hundreds of thousands of cars, buses, taxis, motorcycles, rickshaws, and bicycles cause long traffic jams. For an overpopulated and congested metropolis like Kolkata, the Metro is the ideal commute, because it is so much faster than any other form of transport.
The Kolkata Metro is pretty awesome: it is India's first underground railway. It can transport vast numbers of commuters (80,000,000 passengers in 2003) at peak hours, over long distances, at minimum cost (we pay just Rs. 7/- for a three-zone eleven kilometer ride).
There are eight coaches per train, and each coach can carry 48 seated and 278 standing passengers, so each train can carry approximately 2,600 passengers. We must have our full complement this afternoon: the train is packed. On any working day there are 142 trains (maximum permissible speed of 55 kph) that run at ten-minute intervals during peak hours. It takes just twenty minutes from Belgachia to Maidan.
We walk from the station to our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math bookstall to join Jagamohini Devi Dasi and the other devotees who always arrive earlier to open and set up the displays in the stall.