Last Day in Delhi (India Blog 29)

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.

Along the Hooghly River in Kolkata (India Blog 26)

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.

The Teacher (India Blog 25)

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.