Goztepe in Izmir, Turkey
Back to Izmir (India Blog 30)
Sunday December 16. 5:40 afternoon. Izmir, Turkey
Just got back to Izmir a short while ago. It was raining all the way from the airport. I took thirteen rolls of black and white film and ten rolls of color film.
More than 800 pictures on my cell phone. Most of these are not of much use to me.
I will develop and scan the film in my own dark room.
It was a pretty good trip back from Delhi, except that they did not give me an aisle seat. Most Indians are pretty pushy when it comes to that and the plane had mostly Indians aboard. Good that I got back with my cameras and film. I didn’t lose anything on the trip.
The plane from Delhi was full. The young Indian guy next to me was from San Francisco. I had a good conversation with him and told him about some of the things that had gone on in Turkey recently.
Most of the time of the flight, the shades on the windows of the plane were closed. And I slept part of the way for the six hour flight. We flew over Afghanistan. Sunny weather. The mountains were beautiful.
The USA is still bombing the shit out of them.
In Istanbul, there was no spare time after getting through customs and to the flight to Izmir. I had my seat number, but they guy changed it and stuck me in the back. I should have challenged it, but was too tired to do so, I guess. Hardly worth it. But somebody on Turkish Airlines screwed me over. A short flight, anyway. Just time to eat a tost and then the plane landed.
It was raining. So I got a taxi and came.
I sort of got updated to some extent on what is going on in India. There were no real mishaps, so everything worked out pretty well.
Now to develop my film.
More Photography in Delhi (India Blog 29)
15 December, Saturday. 7:00 morning. Oh Man! Good sleep last night. I needed that. I was wise to stay one extra day here in Delhi. Otherwise, I would not have caught up on my sleep before the trip to Turkey.
I had some dreams, but do not remember any of them. That music stopped around eleven o’clock and it was okay after that. I thought it might go on later. One does not have the street noise here that one has in Kolkata. People just shout loudly on the street there.
I am going to try the area around the Jama Masjid this morning. First the mosque and then I will explore the area. I will use up all of the film that I have left.
So it will be back to Old Delhi today. I guess that I just cannot get enough of it. Actually, I think seeing Calcutta made me appreciate Delhi more.
5:00 Afternoon. That’s it. I made a day of it and I don’t think that I am going out again. I am on my last roll of film, the old expired colour film. I shot maybe half of that roll. I finished the black and white film in the Leica and two and a half rolls of colour in the Minolta. Altogether, I shot twenty-two and a half rolls. I am tired after going around all day.
Delhi is easier than Kolkata. Far less brutalizing, for sure.
In the morning, I took a rickshaw to Jama Masjid. I made pictures and walked from there. There are plenty of things to photograph besides the mosque.
A lot of the shops around the mosque are selling auto parts and even whole engines.
Finally, I went down into the bazaar which is actually part of Chandni Chowk. Saw several foreigners. Several couples were walking there. But most were travelling around in rickshaws. I suppose that it would be fascinating for them, but for good pictures, one really needs to be on their feet.
Back in those old ally ways, there are many old houses that were once upscale. Some have beautiful old doors. But now they are neglected and crumbling, like in the Kadife Kale area in Izmir, Turkey.
I shot off the film pretty quickly and finished the two and a half rolls of colour film. Then I finished the rest of the black and white film in the Leica.
Some rickshaw wallas are a little persistent, but nothing like that outfit in Calcutta.
Some of the small back lanes are treacherous now due to all the people dashing through there on motor scooters. One has to be constantly on alert and keep ducking into recesses, or getting up flat against a wall in order to avoid them.
Well, I had good energy, plenty of energy today. So that was good.
After I finished the film, around one o’clock, I decided to get back to the Connaught Circus area and have a beer.
I knew that I would lose the sun pretty quickly as the days were so short. If I hurried, I could get to India Gate and use that last roll of old colour film.
First, I had to have some lunch at Pind Baluch. I took a taxi to Regal Building and got into the restaurant. Ordered a Kingfisher beer. I ordered channa (chick peas). It was delicious, after the exercise in the morning. They give pretty big portions.
After the lunch, I walked back to the hotel and put the last old roll of film in the Minolta. I got a rickshaw to India Gate.
When I got there, I didn’t quite remember the orientation of the buildings and monuments. The India Gate is at the east end of that street, Raj Path. Rashtrapati Bhavan and Parliament is to the west. Parliament is just a little to the north of Raj Path.
I walked to the east toward India Gate as the sun was sinking fast. But it was still high enough for good pictures. I was surprised to see such a big crowd there. I do not remember seeing those crowds there in the past. Also they did not have the vendors all up and down the street, of sweets and various things to eat. But now there are many of them. The place is full of people wandering there.
After taking pictures of India Gate and the crowds, I walked back to the west. It is something like three kilometers to the west end where the President’s house and Parliament is.
A rickshaw guy wanted to take me there. I took it because the sun was going down rapidly and there was not time to walk. One cannot go all the way as there is a police barrier. But one could take pictures of the buildings from a distance.
Then the guy took me closer to Parliament building. It is closed off, but one can take pictures from a distance, near a fountain. It is good enough, unless one could actually go inside. I am sure that they do not allow that any more after the attack on parliament. It was in 2002, as I recall. I went to a conference in Bhopal just after that. It was a big blow to the security.
Some guys came along from Gurgoan, near Delhi. They started making their pictures with cell phones in front of the Parliament building. Then they asked me to join in the photo. Why, I have no idea.
Finally, I asked the rickshaw wallah to take me back to Regal Building. It was clearly time to hang it up for the day. The sun was sinking quite rapidly.
It was the last full day of the trip to India. And I enjoyed being back in Delhi again.
This morning at the hotel desk, I asked the clerk to please have them not tuck all the edges of the blankets under the mattress on the bed. One has to pull it all out in order to sleep. Anyway, I told them that one would have to be dead to lay flat there on the bed like that.
I never understood why all hotels do that shit.
Apparently, they did not get my message, because the blankets all got tucked in the same way again. The room cleaners must have standing orders to do it the same way every time.
8:30 evening. I have sorted my things out for the trip tomorrow. It has been a pretty good trip so far. Tomorrow should be the easy part. I will be glad to be going back on Turkish airlines.
Two weeks is long enough for a trip for photography where one is out in the streets every day. One probably gets a little tired, more than one realizes. But I am thankful that I had perfect health all the way through. I watched my food quite carefully to avoid problems with Delhi Belly.
Jet Airways from Kolkata to Delhi (India Blog 28)
What did I enjoy in Calcutta (Kolkata)? I cannot say that I enjoyed the people very much because I was not around the type that one could actually make friends with. I enjoyed the beer. That was delicious after hard pounding the streets with my cameras for several hours.
I enjoyed seeing the Howrah Bridge and walking across it and back.
I enjoyed taking pictures and using my Leica M6 and old Minolta SRT 101.
I enjoyed walking, even with all the obstacles.
I enjoyed seeing and riding in those old Hindustan Ambassador taxis, like something out of the 1950s. Those old, quite solid, cars are fun.
I enjoyed the food generally, not eating meat, I think, hardly at all. The taste and spices in Calcutta are somewhat different than in the north.
I enjoyed seeing some of the historical record of the British in India here, like St. John’s Church, and of course South Park Street Cemetery.
At 5:07 in the morning the first call to prayer is going down from a mosque.
I enjoyed the visit to the Victoria Memorial and the people there were not harassing one for money. They were just friendly and wanted to make their pictures with you. That was nice, and I felt friendly toward them. I enjoyed taking photographs there.
In Delhi, I enjoyed seeing more of the old areas that I had seem before, like Pahar Ganj and Chandni Chowk.
I enjoyed seeing the old places in Connaught Circus like that old Kwality Restaurant and the old corner where the old Bobby’s was.
I enjoyed seeing the Red Fort again and getting some pictures of it from different angles.
And, I generally enjoyed the flights, except for having a hurting butt and the pushy crowds and sometimes rude people.
So I have to say that there have been many things in the trip that I have enjoyed.
I was happy that the telephone connections to Turkey worked quite well so it was easy to communicate.
6:20 Got a Shower, Shave, Shit.
I will get out of here before long.
I have to be organized, organisized. Get my organs sized. That makes travel a lot easier for sure, and helps make it go smoother.
I will be getting out about 6:45.
2:50 Afternoon. New Delhi. The plane was late. And then the traffic in Delhi was terrible all the way to Connaught Place.
I will rest up a little and go eat. I will use up the rest of my film tomorrow. I am happy to be out of Cal and back in Delhi.
I got out of the hotel in Calcutta a little before seven o’clock. Ali got a taxi for me to the airport. A young driver brought me to the airport. It was a more modern car than those old Hindustan Ambassadors.
On the way, I saw some things that I had not seen before. Man! It would take a long time to see all the interesting sights in Calcutta. There were some interesting things that I wish I had known about earlier. I wish I had seen these areas.
First was the chicken market that we came through. Hundreds of chickens in coops and being made into meat. A little farther up on the same street, it became the fish market. I could not see much of it, but they had the fish laid out in the ground on a cloth of some kind. There was no ice or anything like that. A little farther were the coconuts market. There were piles of them all down the street. I think it was a sort of wholesale place for them.
I wish that I had seen these places earlier as they were great for photography. I missed these markets totally!
After a lot of dodging traffic, we finally came to the airport. It is farther than I remembered when I landed here. And the driver took a totally different route.
I had to go through the airport security again. They make me take off my shoes every time. That makes me think that the shoes I am wearing are very good shoes. Perhaps they have some metal in them. But I need them for pounding the streets.
The flight to Delhi was okay, but it was crowded. The airline was putting some pressure on passengers to upgrade to business class. They wanted 100 US dollars for it. It is not very small money. They said it was an eighty percent discount. I don’t believe that. I would probably feel too much like a bourgeois babu sitting up there with all the lemons. So I thought that it was not worth it. I saved my one hundred dollars. But they made me pay for it in a way.
The seats are quite small. This young dunce of a guy came next to me. I had the window seat on the starboard side of the plane. I was just three rows back from business class.
It was the second time that I got a crude asshole like that next to me on Jet Airways. I couldn’t get lucky enough to have a decent person in the next seat.
I am not asking for a pretty girl, just a decent person. Should not be too much to ask for.
After we took off, this guy went to sleep and started snoring quite loudly. And this made it more crowded, since he would not take off his jacket. The guy snored. Slept and snored loudly. What a bore!
Then the food came and we got a snack. And some chai. That was good. But this guy kept snoring.
After the food was finished, this guy woke up and opened up his own food from a bag that he brought on board. It was smelling to high heaven. It was a sort of egg sandwich, it seems, but then he broke out another one full of achar, a real strong smell of achar (Indian pickles). It surprised me that the airline allowed someone to do that. And the flight back to Delhi was longer, since there was no tail wind. Anyway, I got through okay and got my bag.
But while coming out of the plane, I told one of the stewardesses about that incident. I said that I didn’t think that it was a good idea to let people bring their own food onto the plane. I asked if this was Punjab Roadways.
5:10. I went and had some food at that Punjabi Restaurant, Pind Baluch. That place is doing very well. It is full in the late afternoon.
Back to the plane. The stewardess said that people could bring some food onto the plane, like a sandwich.
The taxi was okay, but the traffic was so heavy that it took more than an hour to get to the hotel. Glad to be back in Delhi. Quite a bit cooler here than in Kolkata. It surprised me. Everybody here was wearing jackets or sweaters. It is a big difference from Kolkata. I just went out with a shirt and felt cold.
10:00 Evening. Took a nap. Felt a little cool in the room. The room seems to be right on top of some discotheque and more noisy than the one I had before.
I will finish up taking pictures tomorrow. Need sleep tonight.
Early Morning Thoughts (India Blog 27)
14 December, 2018. Friday. 4:15 morning.
It is early, but it seems that I do not need to sleep any more. I went to bed just after ten o’clock. I thought that it was morning when I woke up at half past twelve in the night. Then went back to sleep.
I think that it has been a pretty successful trip and I found out about Calcutta. I saw the conditions here. Of course, I couldn’t go to a real serious slum area. The biggest slums are outside the city. But I have seen enough poverty and destitution to do me.
Humanly, one cannot deal with it. That’s why people just put it completely out of their consciousness and turn to other things. Thinking about poverty, it seems, is a luxury that one can easily engage in in rich western countries. For people facing, living here long term, they know that it is as constant as rain, wind and earth. It is there and there is no possibility of it not being there.
Not under the present capitalist economic systems that exist.
So in order to live, people have to put it out of their minds. I can take a pocket full of small change and it will be gone in a short walk, not giving to every beggar, but just one now and then. It does not seem right to someone from a rich country, or even Turkey, which is not so rich, to just ignore the grotesque forms of human beings that one encounters on the side walks here at every turn.
Just sleeping on the side walk wrapped up in a filthy rag in the middle of the day. No one knows or cares how near to death the person is or if they expire momentarily. They will just be picked up and disposed of.
In fact, it is normal for me to think of Turkey as a rich country, similar to the USA in relation to the poverty in India.
Well, I think personally, that there is something terribly wrong with a society, and a world, that produces such a situation. When there is so much resources and wealth in the world. Isn’t it a form of terrorism to put a person in a position that they have no hope but simply to die on the side walk?
So encountering these people everywhere one went, everywhere, was something that made it very difficult to enjoy being here.
The other thing that made it difficult was the touts, especially around markets, like Hogg Market. After the last time that I was there, I just didn’t feel like going back there again because of being harassed by those touting their shops.
“You don’t have to come. You don’t have to buy. Just come look.”
No! You are not running a museum. It is not a matter of looking but of selling. They will make one feel guilty if they do not buy something. I feel the same way in a book store. I would like to look, knowing that I will probably not buy anything. But then, they make one feel like they are an asshole for not buying one of their books.
And they try to push the most wretched books on one, like by those pushing Hindu communalism.
Except for those things, I enjoyed being here. I wish that I could just enjoy the atmosphere, sights, sounds and smells. But it is disgusting when people bug one too much at every turn. It makes one just want to run away. I got disgusted once or twice and told them to “leave me the fuck alone.” Of course, they pretend not to know what that means. They do not need to. They can see that they made a person angry. But they don’t let up. They keep going. They seem to think that just a little more pressure and then they will break one down. And they will finally in the end sell one something that they really do not want like silk or a sari. Why do I want to buy a sari? And they are not doing it to Indians, just westerners. There is some of that in Turkey too, in Kemeralti, Izmir, but nothing like the way it is here. I found that sometimes it works to just be very busy taking pictures and not to pay any attention to them. Sometimes they see that they cannot get one’s attention and then leave one alone. That’s usually what I did. Not pay attention to them at all. One is busy doing something and they are bothering one with something that they do not want.
I feel very fortunate that I finally got to see some of Calcutta. I had wanted to for years.
Along the Hooghly River in Kolkata (India Blog 26)
December 13, Thursday. 5:20 Morning.
I woke up too early, but got enough sleep. I plan to go to Eden Gardens and walk along the water front today. Along Strand Road. Fort Williams is there too. There is no need to go back into the crowded poor areas again, and I do not want to anyway. I have seen enough of that.
I hear the temple bell ringing now.
These runner rickshaw wallas have a small bell in their hand that they ring when they are looking for customers.
I realized that the night is so different without all the horn blowing.
I did not see the rich parts of Calcutta but I think they must be some distance from here.
Now the birds have started up cawing loudly. Sounds like crows.
8:35. Had breakfast. The Australians are staying around quite a long time.
I feel good today. I will try to stay out of big crowds today. I might use up the rest of my black and white film today. On balance, I probably brought enough film with me.
11:40 Morning. A beggar woman outside the hotel just said to me: “No money! Just milk powder.” I gave her some small change anyway. My goodness! A beggar telling one “No Money.” If one wants milk powder, they can get it with money.
I think she has a deal with the shop keeper for that milk powder scam. You buy the milk powder for her at high inflated prices. She gives it back to the shopkeeper and they split the money. They both get money and the shop keeper still has the milk powder.
Anyway, I accomplished my purpose. The guide book, Lonely Planet is not exactly clear on the Fort William story. Maybe they could not exactly say that it is a military base. It is actually the headquarters of the Eastern Command of the Indian Army. I saw that at once.
First, I got a taxi to the Eden Gardens. I thought that way, I would find my way to the Hooghly River. When we got to the gardens, there was a huge open field where some boys were playing field hockey. There were various homeless people laying under the trees on the grounds.
I walked along the road. There were huge old and interesting trees along the way and I got some pictures with my cell phone.
After a bit, I came to a wide area of asphalt that was a bus stop. I didn’t realize exactly what it was but found out later. From there, one can walk right down to the River, but I didn’t know it at the time. One has to walk across the local railway tracks and down to a ferry landing. The buses are there to take passengers that come from the Howrah side by ferry.
But at the time, I didn’t know what I was doing and got another taxi to Fort William. Then I realized that it is now a military base.
The sign said: “Headquarters of the Eastern Command.” Across the road to the west, a military band was playing. The road may have been Strand Road, I am not sure. At the military band performance, the band was playing the same melody as “Amazing Grace.” I could see the band playing in front of a building. I presume that the performance was open to the public.
I walked back up the wide road for some distance. There was a crossing. I crossed over and saw a gate marked: “Prinsep Ghat.”
Right at that spot, I saw that I was very close to the new bridge across the Hooghly River.
I walked through the gate for the ghat as I figured it would get me down to the river. Actually, there is a walk way along the river under big very old trees. I took some pictures of the new bridge.
But before the river, one must cross the railway tracks of the local train that runs along there. There was a walk way that one had to climb up to get across the tracks.
There were some interesting things along the river. People were going down to the river and bathing in some places. I kept walking and taking pictures with my cell phone. In some places, there were house boats on the river. It took more than an hours walk until I realized that I was back at the place where the buses stop. Along the track shanty houses had been put up, so it was another area of urban migrants who had no other place to live.
From there, I could see clearly the Mighty Howrah Bridge to the north. People were coming out from the river and across the tracks. When a big crowd started coming through, I realized that a ferry from the other side had landed.
By this time, I was getting a little tired. It was still too early to go to Kwality Restaurant, so I decided to get a taxi back to the hotel. Man! I love these old Hindustan Ambassador taxis. They are somewhat crude, but very tough.
I had taken 109 cell phone pictures in the morning. After a rest, I would go to the restaurant in the late afternoon.
4:40 Afternoon. Took a taxi to Kwality Restaurant on Park Street and got refreshed. I walked back to the hotel, ready to be off for Delhi tomorrow.
Man! I have had quite enough of this Sudder Street. It is so bad for walking.
5:00 I discovered the easy way to walk to Kwality Restaurant, but anyway, it is finished now. That’s okay. I saw a lot of things and took a lot of pictures in Calcutta (Kolkata). I still have half a roll of black and white film in my Leica and colour film in the old Minolta. I will try to use it in Delhi.
Kwality Restaurant is quite good. I enjoyed the food. I didn’t know exactly what to order, so I ordered a type of channa. I had not had that before. It was a little dry, but not bad. I had some tea after the meal.
Tomorrow, I am off to Delhi.
Encounter Outside South Park Street Cemetery (India Blog 25)
There is another part of this tale today. There is a big building across the street from that old South Park Street Cemetery. And I saw that it was the Assembly of God Church. It must be a quite rich outfit because they have a huge building.
It caught my eye, since I was raised up in the Assembly of God Church in a small town in North Missouri. The truth is that the outfit had done me a lot of damage, but I had the sense to get away from those religious nuts after a year or so at the university.
A couple of courses in Anthropology and Philosophy made me see the light.
It seems that they are doing some social welfare to encourage people to join them. They are giving out free boiled rice on the street. I saw them bring out a huge tub of just cooked rice, about one meter in diameter. Another tub had just been finished. There was a line of people there to get the free rice. Somehow, I did not make a picture of that huge barrel of rice, a cauldron of rice. Probably it was because of this guy beside me who suddenly started bugging the hell out of me.
I think that the guy was trying to be very clever, pretending to be a nice guy and different. I took it that he wanted to take me for a scam. Man! They are clever. At least, they think they are.
I had just come out of the gate of the cemetery. This guy was maybe thirty years old, I would guess. He started talking to me. My instinct when that happens is to guard my bag, my belongings, because it could be a scam. And I have a pretty good sense of whether someone is out to scam me. And I am pretty sure that this guy was.
When he started to talk to me, I started to walk a little faster to get away from him. Then he caught up with me and started talking to me again. I don’t think that he was just trying to be friendly. I sort of backed away from him.
He said: “Why are you so nervous? You act like I was going to harm you in some way. I am not that kind. I am a teacher.” And so on, like that.
Well, there was no way that I could know if he was a teacher or not.
Anyway, why should I trust a teacher?
I said: “No, I am not nervous.”
He started to say something like: “Why are you like that?”
I felt like saying: “Because sometimes Indians are so full of shit.”
Anyway, a person has to protect themselves in a foreign country on the street, when all his money and valuables are with him.
He asked me where I was from. I said: “Turkey.”
He said: “Oh, where is Turkey? What country is it close to?”
“Close to Greece,” I said.
“Oh, and what language do they speak?” he asked. “Is there a Turkey language.”
“Yes, Turkish,” I said.
Then he started calling me “the man from Turkey.”
He didn’t know where Turkey was and claimed to be a teacher.
Many people ask where one is staying. I always say that I don’t remember the name of the hotel. It might sound phony, but I am not going to tell people where I am staying. Anyway, he finally said: “Well, I have to go and beg. I have to go and beg.”
He is a teacher and he has to go and beg? His story was starting to be suspicious.
I walked on past the line of people for rice. They were scooping out cooked rice to the women in that line who had brought plastic bags to collect it.
The guy had gone away and then reappeared holding a plastic bag half full of boiled rice.
Then he says: “Well, I have to feed my kids with this. I have four children and my wife died of cervical cancer five years ago in 2015.” (It was now 2018). He counted it up and said: “Well, I will count 2019 too. That makes five years.” (Actually four, in fact.)
Was this a cock and bull story? Sounded mighty like it.
After sympathizing with him, I asked: “Why did you have so many kids?”
He said: “Oh, only two of them are mine.” And so on and so on.
It was sounding more like a cock and bull story all the time.
I said something and walked on, walking pretty fast.
After some distance, the guy suddenly appeared again.
He says: “Oh, could you just come and do us a small favour?”
By that time, I figured that it was time to get the hell out of there. They could take me somewhere and rob me. He told me that this South Park Street Cemetery was not good. There was a better old British cemetery that he wanted to show me.
By this time, it was obvious that the guy was bullshitting me all along.
I said: “Sorry, but I don’t have the time.”
I now recall that when he first met me, I was standing by the cemetery wall. I was not moving, waiting for him to leave.
He said: “Well, are you just going to stand there doing nothing?”
I said: “Yes, I am.”
I could have said: “Look, you son of a bitch. Its none of your fucking business what I do.”
But I am not abusing or putting people down if I can help it. I try not to be a bastard. But these types playing these games, could push one into it.
Anyway, I didn’t let the guy scam me with that cock and bull story. His wife died of cervical cancer and he has come here to get free rice for the kids.
Actually, I think that his wife was in that line and got the rice, because he appeared with the rice and did not stand in line for it. Where did he get it?
This fucking town is full of scammers.
Tomorrow I will walk to the Hooghly River.
St. John’s Church and South Park Street Cemetery (India Blog 24)
At 9:00 in the morning, I got a taxi to St. John’s Church. I told the driver: “Near Calcutta High Court” I thought it might help.
I guess it did. The guy knew where the high court was. He took me there, then stopped in front of it.
I said, “No, not the court, I want to go to the church. I think that he did not understand “church.” There was a young guy there who looked like a student. The driver asked him and he told him the way. The church was just a short distance farther.
I got to the church and made some pictures. There are several tombs around the church. They have inscriptions. One can see that many of the British died quite young here. That is, the ones who did not get rich and go back to England. Disease and malaria got a lot of people in the terrible climate.
Job Charnock, for example, is buried near the church.
I went inside the church and made some pictures. A few other foreigners on tours were also there.
I think that I was the only one that was there on their own. I like to take my own time. My own sweet time.
I am not rushing. I’ve been dragging my pecker through the crud for nearly three-quarters of a century. Three-quarters of a fucking century. And what a fucking one it has been when one looks at the history.
And the next one is likely to be worse from all indications at the present time! As far as I can tell.
Back to the church. The sword and the Bible! The twin pillars of Western Imperialism. That was the second half of the formula for imperial rule. Imperial plunder, to be more exact.
And it ain’t over yet, baby! Hoisting entire nations on the mighty petard of the US dollar by the big banks in New York City. In case that fails, just bomb the fuck out of them. When they refuse to take orders. The missionary business is rather old school today. They will be softened up with bombs.
It is a beautiful life. A beautiful world. If one is lucky enough to dodge the bombs. Those bombs that bring, of course, national security, political stability, and of course, peace.
That’s what we learn in international relations courses. So-called.
I took about 30 film pictures. More by cell phone.
When I departed the dearly beloved St. John’s church, I got a taxi to Park Street. This was truly amazing. When I asked the driver how much, he pointed to the taxi meter. My God! You mean those ancient things actually work? I had no idea that they did. Or that they were ever used. It said 30 rupees when we started and went up to 70 rupees at Park Street. The driver even pointed out things along the way, like “The Bengal Commandos.” A military outfit, presumably.
The traffic was one way on park street at the time, the wrong way, so he could not go to the cemetery at number 52.
I just gave him 100 rupees. Amazingly, the guy reached to give me back some change. I thought: “What kind of Calcuttan is this strange creature?”
I just said: “Its okay” and let him keep the change.
From there I had to walk east on Park Street. It was good that I did, because it was a good place for pictures with my cell phone. And a pleasant walk in an area quite a lot more upscale that Sudder Street. There were more upscale shops and restaurants, more like Connaught Place in Delhi.
I noticed signs up around the city. They said that the city of Calcutta was offering a 65 percent discount on paying traffic fines. Just pay 35 percent of the fine and get cleared. But there was a deadline of a month or so.
Obviously, no one is bothering to pay the fines. So they are settling for pennies on the dollar. Or rather paise on the rupee.
I walked past several people wrapped up in blankets along the sidewalk along the way. And several shoe-shine wallas. It was a good long walk.
I had just recognized that I had come to the cemetery wall when an older woman asked me: “Can I help you?”
I said, “I am going to the cemetery. It is here, I think.”
There are some people who genuinely want to help one. And I appreciated that.
I just came in front of the gate and went inside. They charge one fifty rupees if one has a camera. It seems silly, because just about everyone has a cell phone that will take pictures today.
The St. John’s Church fee was ten rupees. This was fifty. A big discount on salvation and sin, it seems, as Woody Guthrie remarked. But there is a more hefty charge for dying. There is a premium on dying. The fee for getting put out of one’s misery, perhaps. Possibly worth it.
So I paid up and went inside. It was amazing! The huge tombstones that they had put up there! Fruits of the Empire, I guess. But in the first row of monuments, I realized that there were piles of trash behind some of the big grave stones. I walked on and tried taking pictures with my Leica 35 mm lens. I needed my 28 mm lens, but had not brought it.
There were many old tombstones. They were very old and enormous. I mean, really big. Some of them go back to the 1700s (eighteenth century).
I put my last roll of Ilford black and white film into my Leica and hoped the pictures would come out good.
There were some people living in the cemetery. Not many. But I thought that it was a bad policy if they let squatters take over the place, while they are charging to see it as a sort of tourist attraction. I thought that if they could restore all those tombstones, how beautiful the place would be. But maybe, some would prefer the thick moss that had started growing on them, showing how old they really were.
I walked on around and made pictures of several of the huge stones. Toward the back of the cemetery, they are not as close together and it is easier to shoot pictures of them there.
I was about to finish my film, so used my cell phone for many of them.
When I was leaving, the guy at the gate asked me to sign the book. There is a place to make some comments.
I did sign it and put down my place of residence as Izmir, Turkey. I said that the cemetery was very interesting from a historical point of view. The British must have thought of themselves as small maharajas to put up those huge grave stones, monuments over their graves. I think they could do it because labour was cheap and plentiful, essentially free for them. And the profits from the East India Company in India were so enormous. I wanted to make a comment about the lack of maintenance, but decided to just leave it at that. It is too bad that the place cannot be restored as it is so rich in history.
I started to walk back and notices that now Park Street was one way in the opposite east direction. I managed to cross to the north side of the street, but not easily.
I wanted to look for a restaurant. At one point, there was a crossing with lights, but people were just going out into the traffic. They were taking a chance and the drivers seemed rather ready to challenge a pedestrian.
My goodness! I waited and crossed in a crowd of people, but even that was not very safe. Absolute madness!
I came across some book stalls on the side walk. I looked at the books. But I did not want to load myself down with more books. The one I had would do me for the trip.
At one book store they had a sign in the window that they changed dollars. So I went in and changed another one-hundred dollars. They told be that the Kwality Restaurant was just down the street. So I walked. Man! By this time, I was pretty tired from all that walking. I needed a rest and some refreshment.
I found the Kwality Restaurant and went inside. A very nice place. It looked very big inside, but only because one side was a mirror, the full length of the place. I sat down on some comfortable seats in a corner.
I ordered a type of malai kofta and nan. I was afraid that they would not have beer. And I was keenly in the market for one after all that walking. Man! I was relieved when the waiter said that they did. He brought a big beautiful bottle of cold Kingfisher Beer. I started sucking it down as I rested my tired feet.
The food came, and then I had a second one of those big beers. Man! That was great! The class of Indians in there was totally different. Middle class.
A group of eight was sitting next to my table. A sort of family affair. They may have been rather socially conservative. But I very much liked one attractive middle aged woman, around fifty, who was sitting over across from me. I don’t know. She was very attractive. Most women have been familied and fatted out. I drank the second beer more slowly watching the scene in the restaurant. I also enjoyed the tasty mango pickles, achar, with the food.
Man! I went out of that place a renewed man. Restored my faith in India. Well, that would be going a little too far. But it made me realize that I do like these types of experiences in India. The ones that are quality experiences.
That is not meant as a pun. And seeing some decent looking women, not all the peasants on the street who have recently come from the villages.
I took a taxi back toward Sudder Street. It was actually closer than I realized.
The driver could not go all the way and let me off at a very busy corner.
The traffic was absolute chaos. Absolute madness!
So I just stood in front of a shop on a corner for quite a long time taking shots of the street and people with my cell phone. I made about 325 pictures with my cell phone, just today.
I walked the rest of the way to Sudder Street. This street is driving me mad! Beggars calling out to you on the street. I said: “Oh, I have so many friends in Sudder Street. They just call out to you as you walk down the street. Of course, they are poor, but they have made begging into a profession. One can see how they are training up their children in the same way. Showing them just how to do it.
Actually, I met a guy on the sidewalk there who said that he was going to train some street kids not to be beggars. I told him that I hope that it is successful.
He asked me how I liked the city. I said that it is a great city. But a difficult city. I knew that before I came, but I had always wanted to visit the city.