Kolkata Travel Blog› entry 15 of 15 › view all entries
Arriving at Kolkata station was an experience. It was 6am - and the light as we travelled slowly into Kolkata was beautiful- and atmospheric. But as I got off the train - the usual mayhem. I averted my eyes from the people having a poo on the tracks, then tried to fend off the many porters who swarmed at me as I tried to walk along the platform. C'mon - my backpack was on my back - what did they expect from me?
Then, as I approached the taxi stand (the number of yellow cars parked there was tremendous - a sea of yellow) another swarm of drivers crowded around me. I really don't understand why they expected me to take advantage of their inflated fares when the pre pay stand was less that 50yds away. Kept on walking, eyes straight ahead.
Dumped my stuff at The Fairlawn, and then set off for a walk. I'd managed to completely miss the Victoria Memorial last time, despite it being walkable from the hotel. Once I'd run the gauntlet of the Sudder Street beggars and taxi drivers, it was a lovely walk across the maidan to the memorial. Even at 8:30 in the morning there wer several informal cricket games going on...and elsewhere herds of goats.
The memorial was deserted, but for me and two saffron robed monks taking pictures of each other in front of Victoria's statue. On the basis that a monk was probably less likely to run off with my camera than most, I asked one of them to take a picture of me - since the total number of photos with me in over the last fortnight, stood at two. Smilingly, he did.
It was desperately hot by ten, and I really missed having a room to retreat to. The terrace of The Fairlawn was all very well, but it a couple of fans didn't do much. So apart from a few strolls to take photos of street scenes, I didn't do an awful lot with the rest of the day.
I spent a while finding a taxi driver willing to take me to the airport for a sensible amount, only to find when we got there that he demanded twice the agreed amount. Par for the course with Kolkata taxi drivers, unfortunately. The fact that it's not a huge amount of money is immaterial really. It's just frustrating and annoying that they all seem prepared to lie and deceive - having assured you of their honesty at the outset. it wasn't an issue in either Darjeeling or Sikkim, thank goodness - but Kolkata's another story.