Sunday, September 03, 2006

Goodness Gracious Me...

Arriving in Calcutta was wonderfully chaotic and nerve-racking. We joined forces with a couple of Japanese chaps to grab a taxi from the airport into town. Some dodgy older dude from unknown origins had given us advice which turned out to pretty good. He however failed to mention that taking a Calcutta taxi meant seeing your life flash before your eyes in many different montage speeds. By the third or fourth time he had just missed that wall, or that bus, or that other taxi, or that huge gutter, the montages start to take on an aspect of a housewife who'd forgotten something on the grocery list. Yes not fleeting glimpses of what might have been, but exclamations of "bugger", "oh yeah" and "shit". Quite an introduction to the sub-continent. All of this was accompanied by the almost deafening constant blaring of vehicular warning devices. Yes, horns. A lot of horns. Which came in three volumes: loud, super loud, and sonic-boom-you-have-no-eardrums-left loud. How the locals have anything near normal hearing levels is an absolute credit to selective hearing.

Yet in spite of the cacophony of claxons and road chaos, our driver deposited us at our desired destination and left us to the mercy of the hotel hawkers. We were knackered after spending the night in Bangkok Airport and arriving at 0630 so we crashed at the first hotel on offer. Our Japanese mates went on a proper search. Our abode was not too bad- 200 INR (Indian Rupees- approx USD4.50), but was lacking a toilet seat and the pillows looked to have been around since the Brits first arrived. However the bed was comfy, there was a fan and the door locked. We did meet a most persistent chap who demanded a tip for cleaning the floor, a right pain in the proverbial. When we checked out he demanded yet more for no work done and very successfully managing to piss us right off. Gotta admire the persistance tho'- he chased us down four flights of stairs to see if we'd give in. We did not.

I like Calcutta. Aside from the constant fumes in the air, the people thus far have been very friendly and pretty cool. It is however very noticeable all the men. Men are everywhere. There is nary a woman in sight. 'Cept for us Westerners that is. And we stick out. Obviously.

India so far... bloody hot, friendly, not for the naive or easily sucked in.

I'm loving it!


Miss Ember said...

Ooo, that reminds me of my India Tour of '03: the Chennai to Rajastan campaign. I damned well developed a heart condition from various death-defying jaunts on the autorickshaws and buses - where cows, families on bikes and colossal but carnival-coloured trucks were dodged at the last minute by my driver who diced with death on a second-by-second basis. That nervous twitch of mine never fails to bring it all back: the fumes, the palpitations as the autorickshaw hurtles headlong into the path of an elephant and the endless cry of horns.

Watch out too for those "Special Lassis" (bhaang lassi) listed on restaurant menus ... rumoured to be laced with Ye Olde Herb of Purest Green, I myself downed a concoction of mushrooms most magic and was heartily sick on the restaurant table, with a fellow traveller, for two hours straight, accompanied with paranoia, paralysis and a desire to throw oneself of the balcony. Had to get carried home by a Canadian and a troupe of locals. All rather Pythonesque and Creosote, really. Be careful, Nikki-chan!

mobile maori said...

will be on the lookout, thankyou deary! Heading to jolly Jaipur next and perhaps delving further into Rajastan. Tally ho!