I fear my worse nightmare has returned - my tummy is not feeling good. Outside the railway station there are hundreds of yellow cabs waiting for a fare.
On the drive to our hotel I had to admit, I could not have been more surprised. I was expecting the shithole of India, instead it was quite the opposite. It was clean, the streets are being swept all the time, there are rubbish bins everywhere, and the inner city parks look to be well maintained. During British rule Kolkata was the hub for importing and exporting. Most Indians would agree that the British left behind a well planned city with good infrastructure. That is clearly evident, as it is certainly the most functional city we have visited so far.
On arrival at the Hotel Victerrace I had to run straight through the reception to find the nearest toilet. I'm not going to be too graphic here, but all I can say is, it was a very close call, too close for comfort. It is with my deepest regret that I confirm that I have the trots again - nooooooooo, it's not fair!
We wasted no time getting out and about to explore Kolkata despite my latest diarrhoea episode. A pair of spare nickers in my bag and away we go. The top of the list was a visit to Mother Teresa's tomb which is on display in the Mother House.
This is where she lived for 50 years, her private room was very sparse, she lived and worked there right up until her death in 1997 at the age of 87. Against all odds, this truly remarkably woman was able to achieve so much for the poor and sick of Kolkata. We also visited the orphanage hospital. There were quite a few Japanese volunteers helping to feed the children. Apparently there is no shortage of volunteers, some of which return year after year. There is a very deep spiritual feel to the Mother House, it was such a privilege to be able to visit this very special place.
The only other bit of sightseeing we managed, was a quick visit to the Victoria Memorial
, as our stay in Calcutta was only for one night. All in all we were pretty impressed by the city - no cows, no cow shit, it does make a difference. The communist party who are in power in Calcutta appear to be getting things right. On the downside we found the people to be the least friendliest of anywhere else we have visited so far, and the other thing we noticed was they spoke the least English - trying to communicate with the cab drivers was difficult. When we asked our driver to take us to Mother Teresa's orphanage, he had no idea what we were talking about, we could have been asking him to take us to the moon. The other problem we had with them, was you would agree a price for your taxi fare, then when you arrived at your destination, they always wanted more money, because they would say they had to take the long way due to detours. We've been in this country 3 weeks now and we weren't about to fall for that old chestnut.!
DJ suggested we have our final group dinner at Peter Cat's restaurant, quite well known apparently. We were all feeling a little sad at having to say goodbye.
Everyone has got on so well together, which has added to the enjoyment of our trip. DJ has been a great tour leader and friend, and I would just like to say a big thank you to him from all of us. Tomorrow, 5 of us fly to Chennai to begin a tour of Southern India - hope you can join us.
.PS We had to take 2 group photo's - one in the day and one at night.
DJ wasn't happy with the night photo, he says it makes him look too dark. Then he wasn't happy with the shirt he was wearing in the day photo.
He's extremely vain!
Arrived in Kolkata about 8am.