Gothic Crows and Colonial Madness in Kolkata

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November 8th 2004
Published: May 16th 2006
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Gerry and Denise's Journey

Starting in London we travelled to India, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands, US, London, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, Cuba and back to London. Started October 2004, finished August 2005.

South Park Street CemeterySouth Park Street CemeterySouth Park Street Cemetery

This is an amazing old cemetery from the 1700's, and an oasis of calm in the centre of Kolkata. Great atmosphere, complete with gothic crows
From Varanasi we took the train to Kolkata (Calcutta). We stayed in the Super Guest House, thinking it was the one as mentioned in the 'Lonely Planet'. Turns out there are 3 Super Guest Houses in the same area (and ours wasn't the one in the guidebook)! It pays to get mentioned in the 'Lonely Planet'!

Sudder Street, where we stayed is a veritable soap opera of comedic proportions - Greasy-haired backpackers; professional beggars with babies as accessories; street-wise NGO ex-pats; good, cheap eateries (the best of which is the Zurich Restaurant); old colonial hotel madames (a la Fairlawn Hotel); leech-like hotel touts; bell-ringing rickshaw wallahs; big yellow Ambassador taxi cabs; people washing themselves and their clothes at the water standpipe; sellers of hand-made flutes; and troupes of drummers advertising the latest line in fashion shoes!

We met up with a friend, Austin, who works here with the Sisters of Mercy (Mother Teresa's outfit). He took us on a one-day whirlwind tour of some of the projects he's involved with. One of the best projects is for people with leprosy run by some 'brothers' of mercy. The place provides accommodation, treatment and employment for some 400 people. The experience
Trams in KolkataTrams in KolkataTrams in Kolkata

I believe Kolkata is the only city in India to have trams.
was somewhat soured by the train ride where some groping male hands took advantage and a boy 'borrowed' a baby to try and beg from us.

Another day we went sight-seeing and came across an old colonial cemetery on South Park Street, bags of atmosphere, tranquil and quiet but for the squawking gothic crows on the tall gravestones. We visited the absurdly obscene Victoria Memorial. This magnificent white marble palace (almost rivals the Taj Mahal) built in honour of our late Queen of the Empire, Victoria. Despite the honourable platitudes ('to civilise the world', 'that all should live in peace and prosperity' etc), if the money used to build this place had been put in to a pension fund for all of Calcutta's poor, they could all have retired peacefully!

From Kolkata we took the train to New Jalpaguri and from there the toy train to Darjeeling in the Himalayas.

Additional photos below
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Denise at Fairlawn HotelDenise at Fairlawn Hotel
Denise at Fairlawn Hotel

We stayed one night at an old colonial hotel, over 200 years old.

19th March 2007

its a shame that ppl frm abroad come over to kolkata n get to see just da beggars,rickshaws and everything else to do vth poverty.thats not fair.n thats a very one-sided potrayal of the lovely city vch has soooo much more to offer.
13th April 2011
Trams in Kolkata

Trams in Kolkata
Yes, Kolkata maybe the only city in India to have trams AT PRESENT! Mumbai also had trams once upon a time, double-decker trams too, but these were discarded because they were causing too many traffic disruptions.
24th May 2012

Gary & Denise's journey of India
Shame man can only see other countries' poverty - having lived in India, England, Canada, USA, Spain and Taiwan - and I mean 'lived' not vacationing in these countries. I have found more poverty in England than in India. What you experienced in India is a corrupt governement - this government has still to learn the Western government way to cover their corruptness. Quoting: "Yes, Calcutta is a filthy city - her filth is EXTERIOR - and can be washed off with soap and water - BUT - the Western countires' flith is INTERIOR - and no amount of soap and water will ever wash off their inner filth.

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