Thursday, September 24, 2009

You say Calcutta, we say Kolkata (by Miriam)

All our train trips have been in Sleeper Class (average cost of $7 per trip). For safe keeping (of me & our gear), I get the upper bunk & curl up with our pack at my head & my feet poking over the other end into the corridor. Not the most comfortable way to travel, but I expect it’s much nicer than being squeezed into cattle class, and much cheaper than being in an air-conditioned sleeper. You wake to hoards rushing up and down the corridor chanting “Chai, Kopi, Chai – Chai, Kopi, Chai”, “Parnee, Parnee, Parnee”, “Chana, Chana, Chana” (translated to “Tea, Coffee, Tea”, “Water”, “Potent smelling chickpeas with onion”), along with beggers, sweepers, transvestites & many more asking for money. A cup of Chai (Rs 5 or 13c) is our favoured wake up choice.

After a quick ferry trip from the train station, and numerous attempts at hiring taxi’s for a reasonable price, we resorted to walking to the hotel area. This took us past “Eden Gardens” the home of cricket in India. Unfortunately, no one was home & the cricket ground was unremarkable from the outside. I expect we will make the 24 or so hour trip to Kolkata again when cricket is in town.

Walking down hotel strip, we started our search for a bed. It ended up that our hotel room with hot water & flushing toilets – didn’t. “Have running water” was Tony’s response to the staffs requests for a tip. I felt much more at ease with our 2nd hotel room, even when we came back to find our nicely laundered clothes strewn across the floor, and faeces and urine displayed on our bed. Brad maintains a monkey had a party whilst we were out, the hotel said it was a cat (perhaps where the term cat-burglar comes from). They accepted our requests for new bedding and we closed our windows after that. Tony splurged on an air-conditioned balcony room, and gladly shared the balcony with us in the evenings for hours of people watching.

We visited the “Mother House” and read up on the life of Mother Theresa, saw where she lived & is entombed. She sounds like a remarkable woman. I was impressed by her focus on meeting peoples immediate needs of food, medical care etc. She gave up everything for the poor & needy of India, but I also think perhaps she gained more by doing so. I found it very inspirational.

We visited the Victoria Memorial, a massive white building – viewed the museum & gallery within and walked through the lovely gardens. For a place where affection to the opposite gender is not often show in public, there sure was a lot of hand holding & cuddling going on (so much so that this gets a mention in the Lonely Planet guide).

Keep your eyes out, as my TV career is set to take off on October 8th - Sony TV. Walking along one day a TV crew saw potential in Tony, Brad & I doing a couple of lines in a commercial for DPL (Dance Premier League). We had to learn our lines in Bengali (easier said than done), then recite them to the camera with loads of enthusiasm. After numerous attempts, the crew decided to call it quits with Tony & Brad, and decided to stick with me as their main star (talk about stepping out of your comfort zone)....

Popped up out of the Metro, onto the busiest street we’d ever experienced (not an inch of personal space available). Ate scrumptious hot Kati rolls (Indian Yiros equivalent). Spent hours walking many Km’s through the city. Went to the flower markets. Got followed for what seemed like hours by touts wanting us to follow them into the markets, and a gang of beggars.

Next stop Darjeeling.......


  1. Hey you movie star! And I thought from the last post, what's with this "Calcutta" spelling? Ok nice to see. Fun times.

  2. nice to read a post by miriam. sounds like it's all very interesting. i'm glad you're blogging as you go!

  3. Stating the obvious but, so different to Australia. It would be inspirational to see Mother Teresa stuff. Played her speech when she accepted the nobel peace prize for year 11 English the other day and they were hooked. She's a pretty special lady.

    Keep being inspired! ; )

    Kate Bom

  4. Go Miriam! It was great to read this from you- make sure Brad lets you do more!
    So did you decipher who left you the 'present' on your bed? That's so foul- wait and see when/if you end up in Europe, travelers will give a hostel a bad review if they have to carry their own luggage up a flight of stairs. We are so spoilt (but having said that, I do think it's reasonable when paying for a room to expect poop-free sheets, no matter how cheap it is!)

    Anne xo

  5. Hi Miriam and Brad,
    Love to you both from Dad and me. It sounds like you are having lots of interesting albeit not all pleasant experiences. Praying for you both lots especially that you will be kept well.
    Bye now,
    Love Mum W