Immersed in Calcutta life

Trip Start Jan 28, 2012
Trip End Mar 12, 2012

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Flag of India  , West Bengal,
Thursday, February 23, 2012

We are immersed in life in Calcutta and the people we know here. In my Dhaka days from1978 to 1981 I travelled to Calcutta and stayed in the well known Fairlawn hotel in Sudder street. I went every two or three months for a long weekend. Young people here are surprised to hear that in those days we could only communicate by telex. They are very interested in our observations on the changes we see in Calcutta, which we reported on in an earlier post. Everybody we speak loves it that we have come back to Calcutta.

We revisited the Parkstreet area that we loved so much from the past. We started in the Goethals library that is inside St Xaviers College. I have been there a couple of times before. It is now called the Goethals Indian Library & Research Society. They have an interesting web site I asked for two old Dutch books tat were brought to me within five minutes:
D, van Reeden, Souratte, Radical Beschrijving Anno 1758. the first pages are loose from the spine and started to crumble. There are Goethals Library logos printed inside. That is the same in the Francois Valentijn, Oud en Nieuw Oost Indie, 1st volume 1726, clearly newly bound,

From there we walked to an old friend of Chris, Mrs Baker, social worker. Her little house is tucked away next and almost under a hotel that used to be white. Although retired she is still doing a lot of good work. Continuing our walk Cris stopped at the West Bengal shop form where he already had many embroidered bedspreads and table cloths. He could not resist to buy new one. Next was a stop at the Fairlawn Hotel for a beer on the green terrace. The entrance and garden terrace had n't changed much since our last visit in 1997.

“Are you the swimmer sir?” the boss of the Mocambo restaurant asked Chris while we had dinner with Lolly and her friend Paul and David with his fiancee Naomi. Chris recognised the man also and knew who his father was as well. The family had a photo shop on Park Street.

They talked a few minutes. Chris shared with us how he remembered this man. He was a video producer making adocumentary on one of the famous long distance swimming races in the
Ganges in 1987 in which Chris participated. Chris: “I remember him because he was on a boat filming the race. When they were close to me I saw the boat go down slowly. It was overloaded with people and he lost his videocamera”. Chris enjoyed being recognised and said that is what you get when you spend 12 years in this city. Chris also trained many young swimmers and was active in church. So it is not surprising and very moving to see that many people in Calcutta still know him.

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Chris Steketee on

Chris, how nice to have your sterling swimming feats from 25 years ago remembered, and to still be recognised. Sounds like you're having a great trip!

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