Chaos, exhaust and headrolls Calcutta-style

Trip Start May 03, 2011
Trip End May 24, 2011

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Where I stayed
Broadway hotel, Calcutta India

Flag of India  , West Bengal,
Sunday, May 22, 2011

Calcutta (Kolkata)- a 24-7 never ending honking and moving city, populated by 14.7 milion people. May is bringing near to boiling temperatures and I'm sweating just by laying down in the 37C (around 100F) heat. The honking from the street has been going all night and is getting stronger as the morning sun is rising over countless concrete buildings,  shack, rikshaw stands, chai stands, kiosks... the list is long. Smells of freshly baked chapati bread and curry mixed with diesel fumes and sandalwood incense. Construction workers getting an early start and is hamm, hamm, hammering away, joining the city's almost ear-defening decibel level. Gooood morning Calcutta!

Karin and I arrived to Calcutta on an overnight train, on which we, after some headrolls and confusion, ended up having to share one bed. Making the journey a bit more exciting to say the least. The bed measuring about 160x50cm (63X20in) you get the picture.... Rocking along with the train, we got some sleep and a whole lot of beautiful vistas of the West Bengali country side while chai-wallas made their rounds trought the train cart yelling at the top of their lungs: chaiiiiiiii, chaiii, CHAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!

Arriving at the station, we managed to get trough the sea of touts and taxi drivers that hoarded around us "-Yeah, we've been here before" we kept saying, meter please not a set price and on and on we went till we found the right ride to the right price and we headed for the BBD Bagh area where a divine shower awaited us at the Broadway Hotel.

The last day of Karin's trip was well spent exploring the windy back roads and alleyways leading to the New Marked where a ton of little shops offered everything from shawls and saris to teapots and vintage Hindu statues. A beer cooled us down on a terrace with 360 degree views of the city. A Bollywood movie made us laugh, and at the same time wonder about the female roll in the modern Indian society. Are they all neurotic, Bollywood-dancing engineers? Seems about as hard to live up to as the western ideal for women huh?

The next day she took off in the morning and I was left to explore the city on my own. I escaped the hectic inner city and headed out to the Botanical Garden of Calcutta where I strolled around enjoying the birds singing in magnificent exotic trees, lotus flowers in bloom and the largest Bungeon Tree in the world. Impressive. I rode the public buss back into town and watched the city and it's people roll by. Like Indian TV at it's best! Kids heading home from school in their preppy school uniforms, one man ironing shirts with an iron dated ca 1748 next to someone else selling the latest USB memory on the market. Streeks of beautiful colors- saris- swoshing by, men watching the day go by with their tanktops tucked up so that they are showing their bellies (I'm assuming this cools them down?), people showering in the public water fountains while someone else is doing number two on the side of the road. Nobody as much as raising an eyebrow.

It hits me right then and there, that there is absolutley no room for personal space in the second most populated country in the world. Everyone is on their own agenda but still work together as one pumping and functioning organism. Here people do their most personal business in the mist of everyone else. This would just not work in the west, or in any other country for that matter. India truly is unique in so many ways. You either Love it or you hate it. But no matter what, India is growing and is predicted to pass China in population growth by year 2013.

There is something very special in the midst of all this qurkiness and there must be some structure in this seemingly massive chaos. One out of six people in the world is Indian, and that my friends, is amazing to me. How do they do it? Why don't you come over and see for yourself. It is a treat for all your senses. And if you do, don't forget to bring your patience. And your humor too! It would simply be a shame for you not to experience the Heartbeat of Mother Earth: India.

As I get on the plane heading back home, I smile at the fact that I have been to India two times now, and didn't get sick from the food one single time :) And if you ask me if I'll go back, I'll simply give you the famous Indian head roll (meaning, yes, no and maybe. All at the same time).

Thank you for taking the time to follow me on yet another Epic SwedishVagabond Adventure. I hope to pack my bags soon again to head out and explore this Wonderful World!

Lots of Love

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