The Lytton Hotel (India Blog 10)
It was quite a long way into the city through a lot of small streets. There was a lot of traffic. Finally we got down Chowringhee Street and turned left onto Sudder Street. Found the Lytton Hotel. I gave the driver an extra 100 rupees. He deserved it. Came in and got checked it.
The woman at the desk said that since I was staying for a week that she would upgrade my room to a suite. So I got a great double room. It has a table and two couches in one room. It has the bed, desk and closets in the other room. I am not watching TV, generally.
Ali, who is a Moslem, brought my bags up to the room.
After getting organized, I crapped out till about 2:00 in the afternoon. Got up and went out on Sudder Street. Hogg Market is just one block away, just down one of the small roads behind the hotel.
Took some pictures. I love these old Hindustan Ambassador taxis. I am trying to get some pictures of the rickshaws with the guy running in front. I don’t want to use a human for a horse for transport! It is inhumane. It is terribly inhumane! It should be outlawed. Put some of these old machines in restaurants and hotels. But stop this human slavery! It is cruelty.
I got some pictures of Hogg Market. The should buildings need to be restored. The building is beautiful, but like everything else, little maintenance is being done, apparently. It is going down. There is a compound in front of the building. The trash is being swept up against the outer wall, where it stays. They have not picked it up. So it rots and produces filth. It seems like the intentional creation of filth. There is no excuse for that. And the sellers in the market should demand that it be kept clean. Probably they do not even notice it.
Some merchants roam around outside the market and hawk for their shops inside. I have not gone inside the market yet. These kids walk around selling these big balloons. Selling them before they are blown up. I guess it is something new. They do not know just how little interest I actually have in balloons. I talked to one of the Moslem shopkeepers. They are not too pushy.
I walked out onto Chowringhee, then back on Sudder Street.
I went into a bar on the way, but they said that they did not have food. So I left. Also the price for beer was outrageous. Some 400 rupees for a big Kingfisher. And it was too cold in the place. There was too much air-conditioning, and it was so dark in there that I could hardly find my way to a table.
There was another place that has some Chinese food. I ate there, but it was not very good food. Had two small Kingfisher beers.
I shot the rest of a roll of black and white film. I have to shoot some color and go sparing on the black and white. I tried to get some evening pictures of the rickshaws.
Saturday December 8: Early morning, 4:30. Got a good sleep and am finally relaxed, after getting to Kolkata.
Waking up early, I can catch up on writing down my thoughts.
I have two rolls of film per day, for the six days in Kolkata. One black and white and one color. I am trying not to waste any. Once the film is finished, I will have to use my cell phone. See what I can do with it.
Yesterday, I noticed that the Fairlawn Hotel, the famous old hotel were Dominique Lapierre stayed, is right outside my window, across the road. I looked down from my window and saw it. But I am glad that I stayed here. I got a better room. Lapierre is the author of the famous novel, City of Joy about the slums of Kolkata.
I will go to the Zarang Restaurant at the corner of Chowringhee and Sudder Street.
Yesterday, a woman hit me with that old scam mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide. At a small shop, she asked me to buy milk powder for starving babies.
I said that I liked babies okay (largely, a lie) but that it would not help. She knows that the money will not go to babies.
I asked her why she didn’t ask Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister, for some help for the babies. She said: “Modi does not help.”
Well, there you go! He knows his India.
So I was onto that scheme without remembering that it was mentioned in the Lonely Planet Guide. How does one know where the money goes, or the milk?
Actually, she does not take the milk powder, but just takes the money.
I am planning to walk to Howrah Bridge over the Hooghly River today after breakfast. The famous bridge. The scope for photography here is endless. I thought that I was okay with 22 rolls of 36 exposure film. Now I wish that I had brought more. I love black and white so much. But let me see what I can do with the colour film in the Minolta.
I need much longer to get up to speed photographing here, but one would have to actually live here for some time. I would need a month, at least. They would get sick of me.