Sunday, February 07, 2010

Calcutta - Sunday 7.2.10 (Cyber Valley Internet cafe)

Some of what you see here is so crushingly tragic, so awfully ... unfair. There are beggars everywhere, of all ages and genders, often with twisted bodies or missing body parts. Yesterday on one of my walks I encountered a fellow, wearing a loincloth only, with just one small flipper of an arm that he was flapping furiously while lying face down on a large rectangle of blue tarpaulin that was peppered with coins. Someone, either a helper or a sort of beggar's pimp, probably the latter, had obviously set him up there. Later on in the evening as I ventured out to a restaurant (Teej, allegedly one of the better ones around town) I walked past some pavement dwellers, one of whom was slapping his partner's face and howling ... she remained immobile. On my way back, after a hearty meal (somewhat coloured by what I suspected had happened) he was lying there, silently this time with what seemed like a body wrapped in hessian next to him.

It wouldn't be India if there weren't major reconstruction work happening inside the hotel at some point during the stay. At about 6am, audible scrabbling and then sawing sounds could be heard, followed by the occasional tremendous clatter of falling rubble. There was clearly some dire necessity to do this work at this hour because by about 7:30 am all work had ceased. In the past I probably would've exploded out into the corridor but these days finding some form of acceptance seems the wiser course.

I cycled to Babu Ghat, the bus station, this morning to see about a bus ticket to Puri. Besides getting badly lost on the way there (and this, with a map & even compass) I had terrible trouble trying to sort something out. One company said the bike was a problem & another couldn't seem to grasp what I was requesting. It appears that the best course of action might be to just arrive there tomorrow evening a few hours before departure & try & sort something out. Failing this, I might just have to start pedalling!

There was a major demonstration in town today; masses & masses of people arriving in countless buses, protesting about price hikes in sugar (and possibly other things). While waiting for a small gap in the march so I could cross the road, I got chatting with a Mr V. Agarwal, a paper napkin manufacturer (or "Stockist of Disposable Catering Item" according to his business card). He was most interested to hear that my profession was psychologist & asked what my opinion was of him (after asking the obligatory questions: was I married? What was my religion? Did I believe in god?). He appeared a little crestfallen when I said he seemed a pleasant, relaxed fellow, and proceeded to tell me about his life and how unhappy and stressed he was and wanted my advice. (This was all a difficult conversation due to his broken English & my non-existent Hindi). My suggestion to "worry less" surprisingly seemed to hit the mark & he cheered considerably, while thanking me.The funny thing was: I found it very helpful also, having been worrying just a little about how to handle the bus dilemma & associated options.


Anonymous said...

Dave Yes the beggers.

That kinda leaves me numb it whats make India I guess.

In High School we had to recit a TAGORE Poem. It was titled "WHERE THE MIND IS WITHOUT FEAR" and I have never forgot it.

It goes "where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way in the dreary desert sand of dead habit.
Where words spring out of the depth of truth where knowledge is free where the world has not been broken up into narrow domestis walls" and on it goes and goes sounds like its a good trip Dave.

Me Im about to fly to Mildura for a week to sort out a feral inspector its 42 degrees up there thats my big trip. WOW



david w said...

you're needed here Pete - OH&S practices are seriously lacking (I have some nice photos to show you)!


Anonymous said...

Hi Dave
Well it's everything I've heard about India but you write it in such a way that it all comes to life. Good stuff. Sounds like a minefield to get through without too much culture shock.
The poverty - how do you get your head around that?
I'm about to start book 3 of the tatoo girl. Best bit of fiction I've read for awhile.
We did the Heidleberg ride on Sunday. Hard but great.
I look forward to my next visit to the blog.
Karen Fitz

david w said...

Hi Karen
Good to see you! I'm not sure you can get your head around the poverty... yes, I'm on the 3rd book also ... quite engrossing & the Salander character is quite enticing (altho' I think the author is just a little bit too interested in bondage etc.).

Mr Felix (aka Pak Peelips) said...

Hi Dave,

That Bikkhu Pete chap sounds like a right nutter... "where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way in the dreary desert sand of dead habit"... what the hell is that man on about? God, it takes all sorts... sigh... anyway, Calcutta sounds like it's working it's magic on you, mate!
Yep, it's one hell of town... and is no doubt "carving deep blue ripples in the tissues of your mind!"
Let's see what that nutter Bikkhu Pete makes of that... sigh! :)

Conrad said...

Lay off Bikku - Tagore's a genius Nobel laureate! That Felix fella has some nerve. Sounds like the cycle trip to Puri is ON; start peddling
Sigmund recommends one push at a time

Mr Felix (aka Pak Peelips) said...

It's not Tagore I'm worried about, Conrad.... :)