Another Scam and Pictures (India Blog 20)

 

Another Scam and Pictures in Kolkata (India Blog 20)

The Yellow Vest Movement in France is going on. It is a protest against global capitalism and neoliberal austerity. The global corporatist agenda. It is a backlash against the do-nothing socialists and the right-wing capitalists. Richard Wolff, the American Marxist, thinks that it could spread to a lot of other countries. It has already spread to Belgium.

Meanwhile, nothing like that in America. Or rather, the backlash against neoliberalism put Tiny Hands Trump in the White House. So much for political consciousness. American style.

Let them eat MAGA! I just hope they are enjoying it!

I guess the next election will be a litmus test for that.

I got out of there before the deluge, some 27 years ago. I could see it coming.

Anyway, no one would give me a job in the USA with my ideas. So much for political freedom! I was over educated. Or under roboticized.

4:55 Afternoon. Rested up.

The Hogg Market is quite complex. I couldn’t understand the layout of the whole thing.

I am planning to try using my cell phone for some night pictures in the evening.

I now understand that there are many Biharis in the city. Bihar is a nearby state.

8:40. Evening.

I went out and around and made some night pictures with my cell phone. They are pretty good. I think it is useful for that, after all.

Tonight I got tried for a scam. But I didn’t fall for it.

The oldest game in the world. Using sex to hook a man.

I knew that there were several things wrong with it from the beginning. Anyone would know that who is the least bit familiar with Indian society.

A woman, quite attractive, with two kids, around five and six, comes up to a foreigner and asks what time it is. Sorry, baby. That just doesn’t happen in this country. So I knew it was a scam from the beginning.

But I thought that I would play along a little bit. It hit me that this is the first woman who has talked to me in this country in more than a week. So there must be something wrong!

I played along and showed her the time on my cell phone. Of course, she didn’t even pay attention. Didn’t even look. Everyone has a cell phone these days.

Then she started her cock and bull story.

I live a long way away, near the airport. I came here with some friends. My husband has gone…” I thought she said “to a bar” but I don’t know if that was what she said. Either that or “my husband has gone away far and I am here with the two kids…” By then, the cock and bull story was in full bloom.

I said: “I think you are scamming me.”

She started saying: “I don’t understand you.”

I said: “Sorry, but I cannot know if your story is true or not.”

Of course, I knew that it was bullshit.

At that point, she saw that it was “game over” and just walked away.

She was going to ask me for some money for the kids. How could someone fall for such a cock and bull story? Not if they knew anything about Indian society. Besides, if she wanted to know the time, there are plenty of people around to ask. Why me?

My goodness! One would have to be brainless. I wouldn’t go for such a thing in any country. And everybody in India has friends and relatives who would help them out. Everyone has cell phones today.

Oh yes, I remember that I had my cell phone out when I started questioning her.

She saw my phone and said: “Do you want to take my picture?” She is not the only woman that I could get a picture of if I wanted. She was hoping that I would take a picture, and then she could ask me for money. So I guess it was a fall-back scam if the main one failed.

Some people can ask you to take their picture and then ask for money. Usually, I try to take pictures of those who do not ask me, but look more interesting. And more natural, if not posing. Sure, it would have been nice to take her picture, if it was just a picture and not a scam! She was a nice looking woman. But this was part of the scam.

It happened to me today in the Islamic area. Five young guys asked me to make their picture. They looked like the local toughs. I really had no desire to take their picture. They were not that interesting compared to a lot of old guys. But I consented. They lined up and I took a shot. Then they wanted to see the image in the back of the camera. They do not know what a film camera is. I tried to tell them that it was film and if they had an email address that I would send the picture to them.

But then a guy who spoke English came along and said that they would not have an email address, probably. When I was walking away, one of them said: “One Dollar.” I was already on the way to get a taxi.

I walked around in the evening a little, trying to make night pictures with the cell phone. I think I got some decent ones. But it is not easy to frame the shot with a cell phone.

I refuse to tell anyone the name of my hotel. I just say, “I don’t remember” or something like that.

But I did tell the guy who was selling silk scarves about my books on India. Maybe it was a mistake, but I didn’t think it would hurt anything. He seemed surprised that I had written four books on India. Well, that is what professors do, sometimes. Write books!

Most of them are not read, unfortunately. Sometimes fortunately!

However, I did not tell him the name of my hotel. I don’t want anyone scamming me at my hotel.

Walking in Kolkata (India Blog 19)

Walking in Kolkata (India Blog 19)

I left the hotel just after 9:00 in the morning. Got a taxi to Calcutta University. The taxi driver pretended to know where it was, but quickly called up his friend and asked where it was. Obviously, he had never taken anyone there before.

The traffic was not very bad at the time. When we arrived, I got down. It did not look like the entrance to a university, but the name was above he gate. It may be just a part of the campus because I know that years ago, the university had something like 60,000 students. I walked along a few of the book stalls outside on the street. They were selling mostly old out of date books.

I decided not to try to enter the university, since my main objective was to shoot some pictures around the area.

Around the corner there were some slogans written on the walls. I made some pictures. No one minds at all, it seems, what one makes a picture of, except the police and security types, of course. I was using up my remaining film too fast.

I went down and around the corner. A fantastic old and decaying building was on the other side of the wide avenue. I had to photograph that. There were small trees growing out of the top of the fourth floor of the building near the roof.

On the way, a friendly young girl met me and said “hello.” Very friendly. Unfortunately, she was not attractive. Short, chubby and rather pie-faced, but a lovely person with a friendly smile. She welcomed me to Calcutta. It was genuine, so very nice.

I thanked her and told her I was very happy to meet her. I asked her if she was a student. She said that she had been a student, but was not doing journalism. It was nice to meet such a lovely person.

I made a couple of pictures of that old building, the last two frames of the roll of film. I had to sit down and put in another roll of black and white film. That was the only roll that I had with me.

I crossed the wide avenue. I think it is the street that becomes Chowringhee farther down. Then I walked on into an area that was totally Islamic. These sections of the city are often divided communally. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was very close to the Nakhoda Masjid.

The area was certainly poor, but highly interesting. There were many old decaying buildings, crumbling, but generally still occupied. No repair or maintenance, it seemed, for like a century. I don’t know.

Anyway, I shot film there like crazy and burned up another roll of black and white. There were goats in the street.

Once my film ran out, I started to look for a taxi back to Sudder Street. But on the big avenue, it was a straight shot for rupees 100.

When I got to the hotel, they were still cleaning my room. I had to wait out in the lounge room in the hall.

I rested up for a while and put a roll of Kodak color film in my leica M6. I thought that I could always convert the color film to black and white.

When I went out again, I walked to Hogg Market. There is a big bazaar inside there, divided into small shops. It is not as open as Kapali Carsi (covered bazaar) in Istanbul.

A guy came and wanted to show me some silk saris. I thought that it would be a good time to go and see some silk scarves for my wife and other friends.

The guy took me to a shop run by two Biharis from Patna. I ended up buying my scarves there. I probably paid too much, but not much that one can do. I bought 7 or 8 of them. I just wanted to get it out of the way, because I do not like to eat up my time shopping. My wife can choose the ones she wants and give the others to her friends.

I walked around and made some pictures in the market with ISO 200 color film. Without a flash, I had to shoot on 1/15 second at f 2.5 in some places. Some places were brighter when there were lights around.

There was a meat market, a miserable place. There were goats in there that were about to be slaughtered. It made me feel very sorry for them. How can one not have any feelings for those poor animals? It is mostly bakri (goats). Anyway, it is good meat, but I felt bad about the poor animals.

I went out and made a few more shots. Then I thought to take a few shots with the cell phone. The pictures do not come out too badly, but one has to take care to frame them properly. I decided to supplement my film with some of that.

Since I have been in India, I have spoken to only two or three women. In Calcutta, the one at the reception and the girl at Calcutta University. Well, I am not counting the beggar women who are trying the milk powder scam on foreigners.

While I was taking some shots with the cell phone, I stumbled across the old restaurant called Nizam’s. It is very near the Hogg Market. I saw the locals eating in there and decided to give it a whirl.

At first, I ordered dal and rice and two nans. The dal was mainly just water, but then I asked the waiter for curried potato. What he brought was allu gobi (potato and cauliflower) and some other things mixed in. I had never had anything quite like it before, but it turned out to be absolutely delicious. If I go again, I will just order that and two nans.

The whole thing was only 250 rupees, but one can certainly eat there for less than 200 rupees.

(Later I looked for this restaurant again but ended up in a different Nizam’s that was not as good.)

I came back to the hotel to rest up. But I had eaten too much. I felt like I was stuffed. For shore!

War is a Business (India Blog 18)

 

War is a Business” (India Blog 18)

Freedom is freedom for the man who thinks differently.” Rosa Luxemburg

One thing is that there is no wind here in Calcutta at this time of year. None at all. Completely dead air, it seems. That I probably one reason for the extremely high pollution, besides there being a lot of pollution. It cannot get blown out of the city.

Again, the sweepers have come to scoop up the trash from the street below. Shouting. Shouting and shouting loudly.

Man! What a dirty system! It just gets worse and worse as things decay in these streets. It is really living in filth. In products, quality control is a big problem. There is so much labor here, but little quality control. It takes some education and discipline and minimal levels of health, even for the assembly line.

8:40 Morning. After breakfast. The Australians are still here. A group of Chinese have come, mostly women.

One young woman among the Aussies, is very attractive. She has a beautiful and well-built body.

It seems that I am the only one in the hotel going solo, completely by myself. Most people tend to go in herds. A grown, intelligent man, being led in a herd. It is actually rather disgusting to me!

This lawyer in Delhi, at Alka Hotel, asked me to contact her relatives for “guidance” in Calcutta. I let her think that I would. Thanks! She was trying to help. But I think that I have my own guidance system. And I have not been entirely satisfied when I have been guided by Indians in the past. People here keep “guiding” me to these temples. Thanks. I know that a lot of money went into them. Businessmen buying off the gods. But I really do not want it.

I need to go to South Park Street Cemetery and Nakhoda Masjid (mosque), maybe tomorrow. I need to take some pictures with my 28 mm lens.

Today I will check out Hogg Market and the University area.

They do not want to call it Hogg Market now because it is a British name. So they say “New Market.” It is now needing paint and maintenance. It needs a good deal of restoration.

Aesthetics, that is another issue. I noticed it at the Victoria Memorial. They are not keeping the grounds free of the iron scaffolding and so on. They just do not notice that it greatly affects the appearance of the building and grounds. This can ruin a nice view, as well as the pictures taken of it.

11:45 Noon. I shot a roll and a half of film because the area was so interesting. I came back to the hotel for a rest.

Now I have to go easy on the film that I have left. I have only three rolls of black and white film left and four rolls of colour film. Man! I will soon be reduced to shooting pictures with my cell phone, I suppose! The pits!

Embarrassing!

That will be something new, but anyway, I can learn something about how to shoot that way. Generally, I do not like digital photography. Maybe I will try some today for practice.

I will rest up for half an hour and head to Hogg Market. It was not open this morning yet. So I took a taxi and headed for the university. Calcutta University. It did not seem to be very big. But I know that it is. I never even went inside. But I found plenty on the outside to take pictures of. That was mostly what I wanted to do. There is simply not enough time for everything.

Along the walls were some book stalls and some slogans written on the walls. I started taking pictures of those. And some from the ABVP, that Akal Bharat Vidiyarthi Parishad, All India Students Organization. It is a Hindu Fascist outfit. And linked to the fascist RSS (Rashtriya Swam Sevak Sangh). That was the outfit that assassinated Gandhi.

One slogan on the wall said: “I like a woman who makes decisions, not have babies.” And “War is a business.” Things like that which students would normally write. 

A trench was being dug on the other side of the street. All along a wall were those old pull-type rickshaws lined up. I guess they have gone out of commission and are stored there.

Man! This place is nothing less than a photographer’s paradise. That’s the truth. Man oh Man! Never know what one is going to find!

I am practicing a little bit with the cell phone. I know that I am going to be taking some pictures with that. Tomorrow it will be South Park Street Cemetery and some other things.

2:50 Afternoon. Man! I m full! I over ate, but I couldn’t help it. It was delicious. Nizam’s Restaurant. It is a cheap place behind Hogg Market. Actually, it is mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide, but they do not say much about it. I just stumbled onto it as I was taking some pictures with my cell phone. I hate that kind of photography but have to preserve some of my film.