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Kolkata Travel Blog

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This is how many people carry things here. In this picture the woman was switching the load over to her husband.

I made it to Kolkata in one piece.  The family I'm staying with has a gorgeous, huge house and they gave me a very large room with a private bathroom. 

The train was rather interesting.  As I was wasting time I looked up the train again and noticed the time for my train was listed 1 1/2 hours earlier than my ticket.  So I suddenly booked it out of there and rushed to the train station with less than ten minutes to spare.  Then I found out the internet was wrong, my ticket had the correct time.  So I spent a few hours in the upper class waiting room until the train showed up.  I was very proud of myself because I was able to find my berth on my own without help.

In front of the Victoria Memorial reflecting pool
  I was a bit mad because one guy in my area kept the light on all night and was singing so I didn't get much sleep. 

But after I arrived I grabbed a pre-paid taxi for Rudradeb's house.  The taxi driver could not find the place and wanted to drop me off in the middle of nowhere not even on the right street.  I demanded he keep driving until we find it.  Then I was the one who found it, he drove right by.  It was a fairly obvious place too.  Oh well, I'm here now and was able to shower and have a traditional Indian breakfast. 

After much discussion from the family, they decided I should take the public bus to Victoria Memorial as it's cheapest and fastest.   The public buses drive insanely while packed standing room only with the door wide open.

On a pony- no saddle!
  A few times I thought I'd fall out when the driver braked suddenly, which may have been why someone offered me their seat after a few minutes.

When I arrived, I first went across the street to St. Paul's church.  Unfortunately I couldn't take photos inside there (or at Victoria Memorial), but it was very nice.  It is around 85 degrees and humid today and I'm just dying in the heat.  And this is their winter!  I went over to the East Gate of VM but was told I had to go to the north gate.  It's a large property as it is surrounded by very nice gardens and a large reflecting pool and I was sweating like crazy.  I already have a slight sunburn from when I was in Gangtok, so I was trying to avoid making it worse.

Very nervous looking cow in Muslim area of town
  I paid the foreigner's fee (which is 10 times the Indian fee, but still only $3.50).  It was a bit cooler inside, but still not enough for me so I didn't spend as much time looking at the exhibit of Calcutta's history under the English rule as I should have.

Across the street is the Maidan, Kolkata's answer to Central Park.  Since Sunday is a holiday here, the place was jam-packed with cricket players.  I counted over thirty matches going on simultaneously in just the part of the park I was in.  I took a very short pony ride to the other side (mostly as a very cheap way to get out of the heat faster and over to the shady side of the park).  I enjoyed a cool ice cream drumstick from one of the street vendors who gave me bad directions to the Indian Museum.

Kid's Merry-go-round
  After walking 15 minutes in the completely opposite direction, I asked someone else who pointed that it was the opposite way and too far to walk anyway.  So I hopped the next crazy bus to come by and thankfully was able to get off after just a minute or two.  But the streets here have fences in the middle of the road, preventing pedestrians from crossing until the end of very long blocks (equivalent to about six blocks in the US) and of course no shade.  (Can you tell I'm not liking the heat today?).  Because of this I overshot the museum by quite a distance and when I finally crossed the street  I walked right into Sudder Street which is a highly touristy area.  In fact, nearly 30% of the people I saw were white!  (I average seeing about one white person a day on average so it took me aback at first).
South Park Street Cemetary
  Anyway all the shops were sadly closed, not that I wanted to buy anything but I would have liked to sneak inside for some air conditioning and looked around.

I finally got to the Indian Museum which is absolutely beautiful.  It's this large white marble building in a rectangular shape built around a very large garden and fountain.  Some of the exhibits were very interesting- they had an Egyptian wing, a section showing the many different tribes and cultures of India, and some Bengali paintings.  There were several wings of fossils.  Now I've heard of dusty museums before, but the fossil wings were just walls upon walls of glass cabinets holding assorted bones from various animals and I could barely breathe there was so much dust in the air.

Motherhouse
  I pretty much avoided those sections.  I think the oddest thing I saw was a collection of fetuses in jars- humans next to goats and other animals. 

I then walked out in a desperate search for an air-conditioned restaurant.  I stumbled upon Moulin Rouge which looked closed but thankfully was open.  When I walked in the owner quickly put on some music- Barbie Girl.  I think India is where one-hit wonders go to die.  This particular song I really hate as I remember Shannon going through a phase where she played it repeatedly for hours on end and sang along very off-key.  (By the way have I said lately how much I miss my lovely sister?  Hi Shanny!)  I asked for the coldest drink they had and they brought me something like a pineapple drink with ice cream.

St. Paul's Cathedral
  I was told by the family to avoid chicken since the bird flu outbreak has spread to areas outlying Kolkata.  I tried the hot garlic shrimp (Indians love Chinese food) which was really great.  On a whim I asked if they had Diet Coke, almost a joke by now because I have been to countless restaurants that list it on the menu but when you order it they give you a strange look and have never even heard of it.  This place didn't even have it on the menu, but they actually brought me a can!  And it was ice cold, something so rare here I can't begin to tell you.  Needless to say I was very happy.  After the meal I saw they had Western toilets and I thought I was in heaven.

Next I'm on my way to search for a local cemetary and the home of Mother Theresa.  The family told me to take the metro back this afternoon (it doesn't run on Sunday mornings) so hopefully I'll figure that out!

rizky_wisnu says:
what a great and brave trip...
Posted on: May 07, 2008
nicoleah says:
Weren't you the one asking for me to include how much I missed you in my blog? There's no pleasing some people. And Sandra and mom probably remember what I'm talking about anyway.
Posted on: Jan 21, 2008
TravelingShannon says:
RUDE! You know my mom and Sandra are reading this. There is a reason that we don't get along.
Posted on: Jan 20, 2008
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This is how many people carry thin…
This is how many people carry thi…
In front of the Victoria Memorial …
In front of the Victoria Memorial…
On a pony- no saddle!
On a pony- no saddle!
Very nervous looking cow in Muslim…
Very nervous looking cow in Musli…
Kids Merry-go-round
Kid's Merry-go-round
South Park Street Cemetary
South Park Street Cemetary
Motherhouse
Motherhouse
St. Pauls Cathedral
St. Paul's Cathedral
The inner garden of the Indian Mus…
The inner garden of the Indian Mu…
Train to Kolkata
Train to Kolkata
Inside St. Pauls Cathedral
Inside St. Paul's Cathedral
Gate at Victoria Memorial
Gate at Victoria Memorial
Victoria Memorial
Victoria Memorial
Fetuses in jars
Fetuses in jars
Museum exhibit of different dress …
Museum exhibit of different dress…
Kolkata Metro
Kolkata Metro
Cemetary
Cemetary
Gravestones taken from French ceme…
Gravestones taken from French cem…
cemetary
cemetary
Human powered rickshaw
Human powered rickshaw
Riding in a rickshaw
Riding in a rickshaw
Kids playing during a festival
Kids playing during a festival
Kolkata
photo by: sky69