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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Oh Calcutta!

The flooded landscape on our approach from Bangkok

Calcutta blog Part 2 Kolkata Kolkata!

We had great views of the monsoon wetlands as we came in, but Calcutta airport was another thing again. Only a few international flights. No ATM at the international terminal and a bunch of money changers trying to rip us off for all they could.

Brick factories amid the rice paddies

We haggled for a taxi into town cause there was no bus and it broke down halfway so we had to grab the keys and demand to get our luggage out so we could get another taxi in the middle of nowhere. Calcutta is for all its old world charm, the literal pits of the earth - the original 'black hole' that gave the dark gravity star its name. People are still rolling in poverty and rickshaw drivers are still pushing hand carts.

The taxi on the way in

Scenes on the way

Scenes from the Suder Street area.

A video of the Suder Street area

The corner store

There were moderate hassles as we arrived because the second taxi refused to give us change and then claimed they had to pay additional parking fees while we got change. By the skin of our teeth we got a cheap hotel right off Suder street although it has no air con and no window and the lights went out half an hour after we arrived leaving us in darkness. Suder Street, the then Lonely Planet pick area, proved to be right in a cramped area of the old city - charming but squalid.

Hotel Palace and the Suder Street environs

Hotel Palace

The nearby Salvation Army, Hotel Palace and our bedroom

The 'Shilton' is just round the corner by the Salvation Army!

The Shiva shrine just outside the hotel

The Zurich Restaurant served Indian, Tandoori, Chinese and Continental

Eating at the Zurich, just round the corner

A little Shiva shrine at the corner

A series of images from the Suder Street area

Street clothes washing

I gave away as much money to mothers with kids in milk powder as it cost us for dinner and now we are going to go stew quietly under the fan, but at least we are now on solid ground and can get up in the morning knowing it’s only about 6000 miles back to Singapore via the Himalayas. From here it will be a bit easier (we hope) as we don’t have to race to the airport any more two hours in advance.

A series of images of street people in the immediate Suder Street area.

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