I almost fell off but was saved by this sign
Hey there, finally found an internet cafe that looks like it will have power. Can you imagine living in a country where the government just shuts off the power whenever it wants to? Well that is what happens in India. It can happen at any time of day or night and can last from half an hour to several hours. Crazy.
Anyways, I left off leaving the tribal region of Orissa and we went into a own called Puri. It is on the coast or the Bay of Bangal. Crazy town. No real large stores just hundreds of little stalls selling everything including the kitchen sink. Had a few days off to explore so put on several km's. Tempature was down to mid 30's so was not too hot. Got a few good photos and learned about a dish called Chilli Chicken. Amazing flavours. I have had it three times since but only when we stop in a town. Otherwise we are veg heads all the way.
Also took advantage of the lobster offered for sale on the menu. Got an interesting creature that resembled a lobster with no claws. Tasted good and only cost 10 bucks. All part
of the adventure.
After Puri we boarded an overnight train to Calcutta. Now that was pretty cool. Oh wait it was actually pretty hot as we were jammed in a sort of cattle car with bunks. There were some fans on the roof that mixed up the hot air ith the really hot air to sort of cool things a little bit. We slept ok but had to convince the group leader that we actually had arived 45 minutes early which is unheard of in India train travel. We had to wake him up when we noticed everyone had left the train.
Then we hit the streets of Calcutta. All I can say is WOW, WOW, WOW. 17 million people live in the city and they either drive a cab or have a stall selling something. We spent three days there and I got lost for the first time in a major city. I left the hotel and did my custmary turn right and explore 10 blocks to the right of the hotel. Well after 2 hours of wandering around areas of town were you can get your cell phone fixed on the sidewalk by a 15 year
old kid and his sodering iron. I finally flagged down a cab and haggled for a ride back to the hotel and cooling of an air conditioned room. Yeah right. Air conditioned is a relative term.
The next day I went 10 blocks to the left and did not get lost. Amazing town that would take weeks to explore properly.
On the third day we went as a group to the Usthi Foundation. They operate several schools for poor children and this is were I was dropping off 10 soccer balls. Great time playing in the sun with the kids and I got great photos. The director of the foundation says the balls will last them two years so thanks to everyone who pitched in.
Now I was going to end this entry here but I would be remise in not mentioning the nightlife in Calcutta. Let me say it is strange in a Twighlight Zone kind of way. Some of you will understand the story I am about to tell, the others hopefully can visualize what I am saying.
Fist off, you must undrstand two things. Alcohal is available everywhere in India but you are
not allowed to see it. When you buy some they wrap it in newspaper and in a restaurant sometimes they wrap your beer glass in a napkin so nobody will know you are drinking beer.
The second thing is single women and men do not associate on a regular basis so when you mix the two sexes and booze you get some strange goings on.
So here goes
On the first night in Calcutta I went to the bar/restaurant in the hotel to have a snack and a beer. This was at 4:00 pm. I walked into the bar and sat down at a table that had a red table cloth on it, the lights were low and people were smoking right under the no smoking sign. I ordered a beer and lo and behold I got a Foster's. As well I ordered some cheap chinese food from the restaurant and settled in. Within a few minutes though four guys walk in in jeans with the hair slicked back. They walked up the stage at the end of the room and flicked on some disco lights including a mirrored ball and began to set up some instraments.
Bay of Bengal
All of a sudden I was thrown back to the spring of 1986 and the Wainright Hotel. I half expected the band to start up a cheesy version of Stairway to Heaven and the time travel would have been complete. Turns out they were just a local band so I was calling their music HINDI rock instead of INDI rock. LOL
Afterwards a few others joined me and we went to the other side of the bar where they were having what I would call a cross between Kareokee night and the Indian version of American Idol. There was a three piece band playing and a steady stream of women coming in and sitting in chairs on the stage. At one point there were 15 women all dressed up. Next thing you know they get up one at a time and sing a few songs each. Pretty normal so far, but wait. There were thee men standing in front of the stage facing the audience. You would think hey were security and maybe they were but what I saw them doing was really weird. They watched the men in the crowd and every now and then one of the
audience members would offer money up by simply holding a stack of bills in thier hand and handing one over at a time. I think this was to get the girl to sing directly to them or to show off thier wealth to the crowd. It was a really strange site to watch. Especially when the men just got up and left once their stack of money was gone.
I think I will leave the blog here and save the story about the night at the Indian Disco. Awesome DJ and house music, partied till 3:30 and paid $25 for two Corona. I will leave it there and start a new blog entry with the travels up to were I am now. Hope you enjoy the pics.
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