Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Plot Thickens

In my ongoing quest to make a post about my time in Bangkok, it appears that I have been foiled once again. You see, the internet is very scarce in Kolkata. There are no open wireless networks to hop onto, because there are no wireless networks period. At least not any near the hotel we are staying at. So we had to track down an internet cafe. I had written a big post about Bangkok on my computer and wanted to connect at the internet cafe, but their ethernet cable is broken. So no Bangkok blog. Sorry! There is one part that I want to briefly mention though which is that Mimi and I had the great fortune of spending one night on Ko Samet, which is a beautiful beach island about four hours away from Bangkok. The beaches were wonderful and we rented a motorbike and rode it around the island. The best part was that we went during the week so the island was nearly deserted. We had a whole beach to ourselves!

Mean, things in Kolkata are grim. Very grim. I do not like this city. As Mimi and I concluded, being in Hong Kong was like being catapulted to the year 2015. Being in Kolkata is like being dragged back to the year 1977.

Everything in this city is in complete shambles. The buildings are collapsing. The streets are beyond filthy. Homeless people and beggars are everywhere. Naked children are lying on the dirty streets. Personally, this has worn me down quite a bit. I knew India was poor, but its still shocking and upsetting to see it firsthand.

At one point, about five small children swarmed around Mimi and started clinging to her arms and legs, begging for money in a language that we didn't understand. I had to forcibly pry their hands off of Mimi and scare them away. It was very intense.

The horn-honking is no longer amusing. It drives me utterly insane. I just don't understand why everyone is honking so much. On certain streets, there is literally a constant din of pure horn. A discordant horn symphony if you will.

The metro system in Hong Kong was seriously from the future. The metro system in Kolkata has one single line, no air conditioning, and you enter buy getting a little ticket similar to the one you might get a county fair.

But enough complaining. We leave tomorrow night. I am very excited to take a train in India, especially the Darjeeling Mail, the line which was featured in the Wes Anderson film Darjeeling Limited, starring Owen Wilson. Not that I even really liked that movie, but I thought it was still cool to be taking that train. Maybe it wasn't even featured in that movie. I just think its cool to be taking a train to Darjeeling.

Yesterday, we went and checked out the Victoria Memorial, which is a giant white building with big domes and stylish colonial architecture. We then went to the Birla Planetarium and sat through what was probably the worst planetarium show on the face of the planet. It was very fun to be in a planetarium surrounded by hundreds of Indian kids and their parents. But the actual show was a joke! It consisted of a woman speaking in the most monotone, disinterested English I have ever heard. She then projected slides of the planets that looked like they were from the 1970s. She also mentioned literally five times that Pluto was no longer a planet, each time reminding us that it had been "demoted" to mere dwarf planet status. How any of the children there understood any of this I have no idea.

Anyways, the biggest highlight of our time in Kolkata has been of course the food! We've been getting really into dosas, which are the big crispy bread poofs that are filled with a light potato curry. It also comes with this amazing lentil and onion broth. The other exciting thing for me here is the fresh lime soda. It's 100% legit.

It has been raining on and off the whole time we've been here and somehow, the streets stay just as dirty even after it rains.

Yesterday, it dawned on Mimi and Kolkata is not a place people choose to go to. How we ended up here I'm not really sure. Actually, it was because this was by far the cheapest ticket to get into India. We have hardly seen any other Westerners here and I think there is a reason. This city is an utter shit-hole. Too harsh? You come here and decide for yourself.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your informative, fascinating and humorous posts Michael. You have the extraordinary ability to describe Kokata in living color and smell-a-vision.