Back to Kolkata


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April 1st 2010
Published: August 9th 2010
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Back to Kolkata
1/4/10: Our flight to Kolkata was at 9:00am and we were keen to get out of Delhi but not back to Kolkata. In the taxi we peered out the window getting our first real glimpse of New Delhi. It was very green and the roads were lined with trees, we passed India gate and parliament house. Getting closer to the airport the pollution was more evident than ever. It was so bad the visibility was only around 400m and looking out the window onto the runway was even worse. I could hardly see the runway and the planes landing and taking off. It was only when we reached around 2-3km high that we rose above the poisonous cloud that slowly kills earth. With the distinct line that separates clean and polluted air below us it was time to think about how we were going to tackle Kolkata again. With the dramas we had last time in Kolkata we made sure we weren’t going to go through that again. We ended up catching a bus from the airport to the Esplanade and this cost a third of the price of a taxi. We only had to walk 10mins to get to Sudder St knowing exactly which way to go. Kolkata looked totally different to us the second time around, everything looked cleaner and less busy. We were convinced that they had a big clean up as absolutely everything was less dirty. I think it was more that we had been travelling through India so long that we were used to the filth and chaos. Also Kolkata being the very first place in India we visited makes it more memorable for the bad things about India than the good things. Throughout our travels we said to other fellow travellers to stay away from Kolkata as it was a shit hole. I think we might have to renege on this and apologise to Kolkata for the insults. The one thing we will not apologise for is the beggars, within 3secs of getting out of the bus a beggar had her hand out wanting money.
We had real trouble trying to find accommodation that wasn’t either fully booked or overpriced. It was hot and we were sick of looking so we settled on the cheapest thing we could find paying 300rs/night. This later turned out to be the worse place we have stayed yet as if was full of cockroaches and had no ventilation making it hard to sleep.
2/4/10: It was 38deg and 90-95% humidity so we didn’t do anything the whole day. We eat at the same restaurant we normally ate at. I ended up getting sick that night with stomach problems, it started with huge sticking farts until later in the night I had a sudden urge to go to the toilet. After 5mins on the toilet and feeling like I shaaat the whole contents of my stomach down the toilet I was sure I had another food bug and took some antibiotics ASAP. Every time I went to the toilet I sprayed cockroach’s revealing two dozen dead roaches on the floor in the morning.
3/4/10: Jacinta was drugged on Valium just to help her sleep in the hot, humid oxygen less room and really didn’t register how sick I was until that morning. She got a nasty fright when she saw the dead roaches all over the floor. I vowed to not stay another night in this room ever again and had to get out. I’m glad Jacinta didn’t see what was crawling around our room in the middle of the night. She later told me of a roach crawling across her face, this would explain the violent shudder she had during the middle of the night. The morning consisted of looking for another hotel until finally settling on the Time Star hotel that was so much cheaper than the others and quiet clean for 350rs/ night. The other great thing for me was that it was just up the road, only having just enough energy to walk 100m into our room before collapsing in exhaustion on the bed. I stayed in bed for the next two days as the heat, lack of energy and enthusiasm all played a role.
5/4/10: Having trouble sleeping again we had Valium the night before. We both were reluctant to take any as the fear of addiction played on the back of our minds. But when you are lying wide awake at 12 midnight it’s not too hard to overcome the fear. We woke up refreshed and decided to get out of our hotel hot box and hit the AC at South City mall. Travelling the metro was a breeze, only having to catch a tuktuk that cost us 10rs dropping us right out front? Total cost 26rs one way, the same route last time cost us 250rs by taxi as we didn’t know any other way to get there. There was not much there in the way of shopping for us so we ended up going to the cinemas. We watched Clash of the Titans which was a remake of an older movie. I only remembered this because of the mechanical gold owl that was included in the new movie as a prop but played a major role in the old version. The movie was in 3D and to this day I don't know why as it was still a shit movie.
My strength was slowly coming back and I felt stronger every day from the recovering sickness.

25/4/10: It was our last day in Kolkata and I was glad we were moving on. We had a 10:30pm train to catch so we had to hang around our hotel meeting room until 8:30pm. This was a bitch because our checkout time was 12:00 noon and we were stuck in the heat for 8.5hrs. I killed some time by playing chess and reading while Jacinta read Shanteram, again. 8:30 finally came so we caught a taxi to the station and negotiated our way through the thousands of people. Our train was even worse; the platform was so full that it was hard to walk anywhere. It seemed like everyone from Kolkata was going to Darjeeling. After accidentally getting on the wrong train carriage we finally found the right one and locked our bags under the seat. Half an hour after the train started to move I kept hearing this and irritating loud clap down the aisle. I looked down the aisle and saw two women clapping to someone. I thought they were clapping to a child and tried to ignore it. The clapping got louder until they reached our compartment. They clapped again with a very ear piercing clap that tested the strength of your eardrum. I looked up and was shocked to see a very poorly dressed transsexual India standing in front. I quickly looked away as I wanted no part of whatever she was selling. I was lucky enough that her or his focus was on two of the other Indian passengers as she pestered them for whatever she was trying to offer. The whole time in India I wished I could understand Hindi but this was one of those times that I was glad I didn’t. She was very confidant, pushy and persistent but the two men wanted nothing to do with them. It wasn’t long before we retired to bed and hoped to wake up to a cooler climate in the morning.


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