Sunday, 1 May 2011

Calcutta

Got up at cock's crow and made myself ready for a day sightseeing. After a quick cup of tea I headed for the Metro and bought a ticket for Kalighat station. Once there I started asking directions to the Kali temple the station is named after. Eventually I got to some kind of temple but it looked more like a park and next to it was some complex that was closed. Later I learned later that I had been in the wrong place. After walking around in circles there for awhile I took a taxi to College Road.

Sachin Mitra Lane

Sachin Mitra Lane


At College Road, as the name says, are a lot of learning institutions as well as book stores. Was hoping to buy something interesting to read but unfortunately I was out too early. Walked around and watched students having a dip in the pool that I suppose was dedicated for student sports. I came across a tram line so I grabbed a tram and rode over to the Esplanade.

Close to Shyambazaar

Calcutta traffic

Near Kalighat


College Road

From there I started walking towards Park Street and I was suddenly hijacked by a shopkeeper to come and look at his wares. I was totally non+committed but to humor him I decided to go and have a look. He had me sit down and offered Indian chai and started pulling out stuff that I was not in the least interested in. I was interested in Nepalese Gurkha knives, they had obviously been hand made, probably made in Nepal too but buying one in Calcutta was not my deal. I want to buy one in Nepal when I hopefully travel there someday.

Inside the tram

Calcutta tram bogie

My Tamil breakfast

Museum of India

Finally he presented some batiks and I took a fancy of a tapestry that was abt 1.5 x 2.0m long, it depicted Krishna with his women. The asking price was horrendous, something like 3800 rupees so I just took my bag and started to leave and the Owner became frantic and told me how much do I want to pay? I told him that I have no idea what these kind of things cost but I can't afford his asking price. He pleaded me to say something so I told him 1000 rupees. He went into another fit and I told him goodbye and started down the stairs, after 3 steps he said "OK, take it". As I was his first customer of the day he could not afford to have me walk out on the street without buying anything, it would spell disaster for the rest of the days business. I paid him and got my tapestry. I felt quite ruthless but nonetheless I think he made a profit.

Ceremonial Kali Mask

Mammoth found up in Punjab

LP's manufactured by lacquer produced in India (bug excreta)

Opium samples



Kali painting

Miniature of a Parsi "Tower of solitude" 

Next I stopped in a antique store that was displaying brass figures. Being a sucker for such stuff  I had to go in and see what was on offer. There were a lot of brass figurines from the smallest 1 inch to the biggest abt 1 foot tall. The shop Owner was an elderly fellow who loved to talk about his pieces and gladly showed them as well. Finally I settled on 3 figures from the Hindu mythology and the price came to abt 6000 rupees. It was a fair price as I had been earlier in Delhi, Mumbai, Goa & Cochin buying several similar size statues for same price more or less.

Calcutta Architecture

Old gramophone player in an auction shop

As I walked on I came across the Museum of India, the building was imposing and looked interesting so I ventured inside. The entry fee was a pittance and I started walking the halls of the big building. Even to try and explain what was on display would be worth of several novels, but in short I could say it is sort of a Smithsonian of India. There is a lot to see and learn although the building is in dire need of repairs and some of the exhibits are not least to say "tired". I spent there a few hours and started to suffer from culture shock so I decided to leave. I was walking around the streets aimlessly and eventually ended down south of Calcutta and my feet started aching so I took the Metro back to Shyambazar.

Rickshaws & bicycles were still popular ways of transport

Metro art @ Shyambazaar station 

The evening was spent chatting with Priyak while we emptied his fridge of beer. The sleep was excellent after such a day.

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