Let’s get out of Kolkata…

Boy it was good to get out of Kolkata. It is a noisy, dirty, busy city and we were in a commercial area with lots of trucks of all sizes, plus goods being moved on trolleys, bicycle carts and heads.

The noise of constant traffic with the continuous honking horns, crowded streets, hot weather…it became a bit overwhelming. We both had a mini melt-down (not at each other) and decided to seek quiet time in a large mosque that we had spotted from our hotel.

But we did find a great restaurant, Gupta Brothers, right beside M.G. Rd railway station. It is bright and efficient (in an Indian way) and clean. At least the eating area is, who knows what the kitchen is like.

Most importantly, shared tables, so more Hindi for Tall Girl. I confess that I have shifted from being bemused by her project to being envious, maybe even jealous, at her skills.

It is absolutely a great initiator of interacting with people. I suspect that by the time we head home on March 21st, she is going to be quite fluent.

We were a bit frazzled and the White House owner suggested the Hard Rock cafe. This goes totally against my idea of travelling in India, but I wanted a beer (which is surprising hard to find) so we head off. We have discussed western franchises in India and have both agreed the best we can say is that it was air conditioned.

Well, there was one other good thing. As we were walking, there were a few hole in the wall places selling “rolls” which are basically a flat bread rolled up with a filling of choice. They weren’t busy at all, except one, that had a 3 deep crowd trying to order. On the way back we bought one each and they almost made it worth the Hard Rock visit.

The other reason we headed there was to visit the Victoria Memorial. But we were too late. It was closed. We tried every trick on the guard on the gate to be able to just go in and look around, but he wasn’t having any of it. It looked like an astonishing building, the best we got was a glimpse. We also marvelled at how we were starting to learn our way around the Kolkata metro trains.

Our last day in Kolkata we make a decision to do chilled stuff and after leaving our bags at the White House we head to the bazaar so that Tall Girl can find a Salwar Kameez.

We had learned a very important Hindi phrase; मुझे अकेला छोड़ दो (mujhe akela chhod do) – “leave me alone” and had the opportunity to use it many times in the market.

Another meal at Gupta Brothers and once again Tall Girl is in her element.

I recall the last time I was in Kolkata in 2015 and am still traumatised by the memory of being hassled as we left the hotel for the airport. One would think I would learn a lesson, but obviously I didn’t and a promised 5 minute wait for a taxi turned into a 30 minute back and forth about where the taxi was, with me about to hail a tuk tuk and put everyone out of their misery. At the time Tall Girl wouldn’t let me…nowadays I think it would be her idea…she is adapting well to India :o)

Speaking of being put out of our misery, I am contemplating self destructing. I just can’t get it together to write the stories I would like to, so this may turn into a photo essay of our trip with some brief notes for our reference

Train to Bodh Gaya class 2AC
(2 high, air conditioned)

A giant and a midget…in front of the 80 foot Buddah

Bodh Gaya is where Siddhartha attained enlightenment under a bodhi tree and became the Buddha. It is the holiest of Buddhist places, and the Mahabodhi Temple, which has a descendant of the original tree, is a peaceful and wonderful place.

Unfortunately, since a bombing in 2013, no electronics, including phones are allowed inside = no photos. So Tall Girl created our own memory of monks chanting.

It was such a shame about not having a camera. Stone point Tall Girl had about 10 monks crowding looking over her shoulder and admiring her work. It was such a great (missed) shot.

We went the wrong way back to our hotel,which was a good thing. I have a philosophy to follow the crowd / music / noise and see what is going on.

This was a crowd scene that was quite puzzling. Nothing was being sold. It wasn’t a bus station. It was odd.

We were directed to a bloke at an inquiry desk who spoke excellent English

Welcome to Bodh Gaya eye camp 2023 where people from near and far, especially rural, are brought at no personal expense, to receive eye surgery, mostly cataracts.

We were given the VIP tour of the entire place, including showing us people’s damaged eyes.

This is really awesome work carried out by international doctors, funded by a charity we are having trouble traking down, but would like to ask our friends to support. Each eye costs only $US40 to fix…nothing when you think about it. At some point, when we find out how money can be donated, we’ll put the word out to people who feel inclined to help.

A not unusual front yard scene, and this is in a big town, not in the country.

Next, on to Varanasi, but not before more friends and Hindi practice at the railway station

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