India Part II: Calcutta (India Blog 9)
Midnight: (Thursday December 6)
12:00 Midnight. I could not sleep. So Fuck it. If I sleep some, that would be okay. If not, then I will have to catch up sometime. Now somebody has started beating a drum somewhere.
The empty drum rattles the loudest.
Now the two guys in the next room are talking. They were talking loudly in the hallway outside my door. The bathroom door just started vibrating, maybe from the drum beats. Now I have closed it! Sometimes I wish that I was making my own noise and disturbing others the same way they do me. A mutual exchange of disturbing noise. Some people would be too insensitive to get it, however.
I suspect that this new BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party or Indian People’s Party) generation is different from the old ones. More nationalistic. Loving Mother India and Cows. What a crock! What ever happened to old fashioned honest critique of traditional society? The Sangh Parivar.
Where are the Marxists? The opium of the masses has reached flood stage.
This country has so many well-meaning people, so many improvement schemes, and the only thing they cannot improve is the culture of Hinduism, caste prejudice, itself. That’s the way it seems to me.
Ambedkar was right.
I had made the plane reservation for the flight to Calcutta at noon. But now the flight has been moved back to 6:40 AM. There is nothing I can do about such an ungodly hour. Nothing! I wish these guys would get straightened out and go to bed!
Friday, December 7: Calcutta
I did crap out shortly after midnight last night. It is now noon here. I will take a little rest. I had to turn the electric punkas off in the rooms. I have a nice room. A two-room suite, actually. Wonderful! Glad that I did not go for that famous Fairlawn Hotel.
I got into the hotel and relaxed.
7:45 Evening. I have shot one roll of black and white film already today. My film is going pretty fast and I want to get some good pictures.
I had to get out of the hotel in Delhi pretty early this morning, but picked up maybe three and a half hours of sleep. I checked out shortly after four o’clock in the morning and headed for the airport. It was a quiet, eerie, foggy morning in Delhi. It seems like quite a long way to the airport, but the roads are good now. The fare was around 230 rupees. I just gave the guy 300 rupees.
The navigational system in the car tells them how to go, all in English. I have not seen that in the taxis in Turkey yet. Anyway, it would have to be in Turkish.
It was lucky that I could connect to the internet, because I had to show the time of the flight from the email that came with the changes in order to get into the airport. Everything has become too technological these days.
Even in India.
Got checked in. The airline was making offers to upgrade to first class for 120 US dollars. There was no way that I was going to do that. So maybe that is why they put me in a middle seat with a huge bear, a stuffed pig, next to me. I hate that. The guy tried to stuff his coat down between us. I made him move it, as it was taking up my space. I was glad that when he tried to leave the plane, he got it stuck in the arm rest. He refused to put it in the overhead.
The guy on the other side, next to the windows looked more decent.
The flight was fine. Smooth most of the way. So no complaints.
They served a small breakfast, a sort of pronta and curry along with a roll. Then tea too. The stewardess was from the east, maybe Manipur, a beautiful girl.
The guy next to the window started to get upset. He didn’t want the pronta and asked if there was anything else. Then when the tea came, he asked for lemon. The girl said that she would have to go and get it, since the only lemons were in business class. (That’s what the hundred dollar upgrade was for, presumably. If you don’t pay, no lemons.)
Back in the cattle class section, the passengers do not measure up to having lemons. I said to the guy: “There are only two classes: Business class and cattle class.” He liked that. But his tone was very authoritarian toward the stewardess. First, he had said to the stewardess: “I’ll ask you for tea later.”
Then, when he asked for a lemon, he said: “Make sure she squeezes it.” My goodness! Then when the tea came, he wanted to squeeze the lemon in the tea.
He said: “Bring me the lemon. I want to squeeze it.”
Well, I would have loved to squeeze some lemons, but not that kind. I am sure that her lemons would be lovely to squeeze.
Then the girl offered to bring him another tea. But by that time, it was too late. The plane was about to land. So he had to give it up. I couldn’t believe that he was making so much fuss over a fucking cup of tea!
The luggage came okay and I lined up for a prepaid taxi. There was quite a big line there, so it took some time. The rate was 250 rupees to the city. All the taxis seem to be run by the police association and they are all old Hindustan Ambassador autos. The streets are full of these old cars painted yellow, and I love it. It seems that they have disappeared from Delhi. I mean, what is an Indian city without Hindustan Ambassadors? Each receipt that one gets goes with a particular taxi and the system seems to be working very well now.
It is great that the taxi system is working very well in the Indian airports now. It used to be hell a few years ago.
There was a money change place and I had to change some money, even though the rate was not the best.
The old Hindustan Ambassador was beautifully old on the inside. I regretted that I did not have some film in my Leica as the driver had Hanuman and Ganesh on the dashboard. I had never seen that back in the late sixties. But with Saffronization it is now everywhere in India, it seems.
I was ready for Kolkata. Calcutta. Ready for heaven. Ready for hell!