Chinese gates and inventions

Kolkata Travel Blog

 › entry 6 of 8 › view all entries
Chinatown, with temple in the background

It has been a long time since i wrote, partly because there was no internet and partly because when I was in places with internet there as no time. This is why i have not written anything since Varanasi, even though that seems such a long time ago. Ok, let me quickly tell you all that happenend since.

From Varanasi I went and boarded a train to Calcutta. One of the major cities in India and one i figured I should see, since I was sort of in the area. I stayed in Chowringee, an area with lots of traveler places and by chance I met up with this couple that was cycling through India, that I had met in Bodhgaya. They had cycled their way into Calcutta in the same amount of time it took me to visit Varanasi and come down.

Calcutta is huge, congested and the airpollution sort of got to me, but other than that I had some really nice days.

an old temple converted into bangle workshop
The first day I went to see the old China town, which is now almost completely deserted by the chinese, but still bears some remnants of its old oriental inhabitants. Streetnames refer to its chinese past (like danzeng lane) and there are some chinese tmenples scattered around, most of which are now used as schools or stores. There was one old chinese family home, with a gate enclosing the courtyard that was big enough to fit the families elephant through. You could still imagine the old grandeur, allthough the building looked quite delapidated now and the courtyrt ws just inhabited by a couple of cows and some odd chickens belonging to the homeless families that were now squatting in the building. It was a nice afternoon, full of controversies between the old and the new.
Big mosk, what used to be chinatown is today predominantly muslim

The next day a girl staying in the same dorm and I went out to see some of the obligatory Calcutta sights such as the queen Victoria Memorial (a huge marble palace like structure that has no apparent function at all, though somtimes expositions are held there) and the Saint Pauls cathedral, which was quite nice but full of memorial plaques for militatry people. After that is was time for a different religion and we went down to the huge Kali temple. There we were met by some temple priest who did everything in his power to ensure we would buy lots of offerings to present to the goddes, which we managed to dodge except for some flowers and incence. The temple was nice, huge and quite chaotic. We had read the ther would a lot of goat-offerings going on, so we expected quite a bllody scene, but nothing of the sort.

When we asked our dodgy temple friend he said that the offerings would only take place in the morning. We did however trip over a couple of goat feet (with no goat attached). Well, i guess we could do without the blood. That night we had a quiet sit down at the hostels nice rooftop terrace and rank some smuggled-in beers (smuggled because the owner was quite stricktly muslim).

The nex day, the battery charger of my amera decided to stop doing its job. I went to one of the many little stalls around the area that claimed they could fix everything to do with mobile phones, and figuered if they could fix phone chargers, they might also be able to fix camera chargers.  The guy looked at my charger for a long time, decided he could not fix it, but he had a universal charger that was just about a hundred rupees, which i bought.

queen victoria memorial
It is quite an ingeniuos device and looks a bit like a cross between a home made bomb-fuse and a UFO, but it comes in a nice little box coverd in what looks to be chinese writing, so it is probably a smart chinese invention, and it works, which is the most important. Quite happy with my new device, i went back to the hostel, where a Taiwanese girl who had been staying there for four months because she was doing some volunteer work, made me some nice lemaonade, from fresh lemons. After that I met up with the cycling couple and we all decided to go to a bollywoodmovie in one of the nice big multiplex theaters. We went to the only movie that had still some seats left called Aaja Nache. Allthough neither of us spoke a word of Hindi, it was not very hard to follow the plot.
saint pauls cathedral
we had quite a good time, but the next day we read in the papers that the film had some contoversial castist lines in one of the songs and that the song would be censored. ofcours this had gone totally unnoticed by us, but at least we were proud to say that we saw the uncensored version! All in all, Calcutta offered some nice variety of cultural experiences, but was still a big, congested city, which I was not alltogether sorry to leave.

Meanwhile I had been trying to track down the address of my friend Siddamma, who lives in Chennai and runs an organisation there that works for the local tribal people. Her old address and phone number were not werking anymore. Finally I decided to just go down to chennai and try her office, so that night I boarded a train for a thirty (!) hour traintrip down to the southern coast. But what happened there is for another story.



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Chinatown, with temple in the back…
Chinatown, with temple in the bac…
an old temple converted into bangl…
an old temple converted into bang…
Big mosk, what used to be chinatow…
Big mosk, what used to be chinato…
queen victoria memorial
queen victoria memorial
saint pauls cathedral
saint pauls cathedral
photo by: sky69