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)
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.
Some Reflections (India Blog 23)
After more than twenty years of teaching in Turkish universities in all the three biggest cities, Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir, plus some years in North Cyprus, I was ready to enjoy some leisure time. I was not going to miss the interminable bureaucracy in Turkish. I would miss the pleasure of teaching. I would miss the students, but it would be nice to be in control of my own time and have some freedom to travel more. Some freedom to pursue photography.
This evening, I basically give it up. First, I went out to that restaurant in the corner, Zurich’s. I wanted a beer. The restaurant part was closed and dark. There was just the one lone guy near the bar. In another part, there were a few Indians. I sat near the bar and had two small Kingfisher beers.
The guy gave me some peanuts. They were small and hard. I could not recognize them as peanuts. I had never had that sort of peanuts. They were not appetizing.
I remembered the beautiful peanuts they served with beer at the old Maharaja’s palace hotel in Bhopal, when I stayed there a few years ago. It was out on a beautiful green. Just like in the old British days of the Raj.
I paid and got out.
I thought that maybe that Kingfisher Restaurant near Hogg Market would have beer. I went in and thought about eating something with the beer. But when I asked for beer, the waiter said: “No beer after 10:00 o’clock.” I didn’t understand why that would be. There was another bar, a sort of discotheque on the corner. But there was loud Indian music. I just couldn’t put up with that.
I realized that I had to hang it up for the day. All the rickshaw wallas want to take one somewhere. They don’t know that I would ask them if I really wanted to go somewhere. I am getting quite discouraged by this Sudder Street area.
There are a couple of places that I still want to go to. I will go somewhere tomorrow.
12 December, Wednesday.
5:25 Morning. I woke up and heard the birds croaking. They sound like crows, but I don’t know.
Generally, I have lost my illusions about Sudder Street. I guess that I had some illusions before coming. I thought that it would be more pleasant.
In the evenings, it is difficult to walk on the side walks. They are blocked in some places and the sides of the road are rough with a sort of gutter, often filled with trash. One has to hobble along, back and forth from the roadway to the side walk. Hobble along, avoiding getting hit by a car or a terrorizing motorcycle rider. So it is not a pleasant thing. There is not a pleasant place to walk.
And the motorcycle horns are so loud and bad-sounding. For sure. People are so rude to each other. Sometimes it seems like a rude culture. I guess that I can understand my old Bengali friends better after being here.
I don’t like people calling to me, either, as I walk down the street. They have nothing to do with me. Trying to make me come to their shop. They put their game on you, whatever it is. After a while, it starts to get on one’s nerves. And then, they force you to be rude with them.
Turkey is far better, in that sense, it seems to me.
I will start by going to St. John’s church this morning. There is a historical grave yard there. After than, maybe to the South Park Street Cemetery. (52 Park Street)
I will get a shower before others get all the hot water.
4:40 Afternoon. Back to the hotel. A hell of a day! Hell of a good day. I will write about it soon, but need a rest right now.
I thought of that young, buxom, healthy and fecund young woman with a gorgeous ass, from Australia. Everything about her is gorgeous. She is not beautiful, she is gorgeous. She is cute and has a beautifully well-build body. It makes me believe that she would make love like wild. Very photogenic.
God! I think I would have had that girl if I had met her when I was young. She actually said “hello” to me on the stairway this morning. I was almost ready to grab her. Don’t tempt me with that delicious, plump, perfect ass. Oh God! Gawd!, as Edward Abbey would say. I am a sexist pig. Sure as hell. Sure as fuck. All men are, but nowadays a lot of them have to hide it. Her ass was simply gorgeous in those tight bluejeans.
With society in USA in the throes of the Thermidorian Period of the 1960s sexual revolution, it is not politically correct to say anything. One must pretend to be something other than a man. The return of the Puritans.
She is so refreshing after a week of these wretched Indian wrecks of women all worn out by degrading marriage and family life. Generally fatted out.
It is not politically correct to appreciate the beauty of a young woman. But fuck it. No need to fool one’s self. It is just hypocrisy.
Sometimes I just have to laugh at how puritanical American Society has become in recent times. The Europeans are laughing their asses off. Sorry, America. But its true.
Today most do not remember the sexual revolution of the 1960s, which I personally missed out on completely. They were also not raised up in an Assembly of God Church in rural north Missouri which was far less liberal than the Taliban in Afghanistan! Or the Salafists in Saudi Arabia. They were ready to burn one in hell for just thinking of a girl. Maybe some of them still are. Anything that was the least bit enjoyable was strictly forbidden. And there was not a whole lot to enjoy in that small pitiful town.
Well, I said enough about that in my autobiography. There are people who would love to burn me at the stake for that!
That was the Assembly of God Church in Princeton, Missouri. They were right up there with the best when it came to religious idiocy. Just as well be honest about it. They should have saved the old church building. It was classical. Somehow when they finally killed the church off, I think the old church building probably went too.
I still love the old Edward Abbey classics like Monkey Wrench Gang. They are not politically correct by contemporary American standards. They hark back to age when people were allowed to have some ideas of their own in America and not be burned at the stake for them by someone prancing around and pretending to be “politically correct.”
“Old School Photography” (India Blog 22)
I was hungry. But I didn’t quite know the orientation of the place at the back of Hogg Market. Exactly where was I? I asked a young guy where Nizam’s restaurant was. He pointed. Told me to walk forward and then to the right. But I realized that the place looked different from yesterday. I found the restaurant, but it turned out to be a different Nizam’s. A copy of the first one, I guess.
I ordered one dish and two nans. It was paneer (cheese) in some kind of curried sauce. The food was quite tasty.
I still do not know my way around Hogg Market very well and get disoriented. Getting back through the market, I ended up going through that horrible meat market once again. Then I came across the young guy who had sold me the scarves. I was quite tired and ready to get back to the hotel.
But he invited me to come to his shop for a tea. So I agreed. It was not polite to turn him down.
It is Indian tea with milk and sugar already boiled in the tea, of course. So it is rather sweet and gooey. It really does not go well with me after drinking Turkish tea for years. The tea is served in one of those small clay cups. They are tiny and burn one’s fingers when filled to the brim.
I used to think those cups were more environmentally friendly. But seeing the piles of them swept up in the street behind my hotel, I am not sure.
I sat at his shop for tea, just at a counter, really.
A middle aged woman and her husband came to look at bed spreads and spreads for furniture. They are colourful and beautiful. No doubt about that. He kept showing them a large variety of them. A fantastic display. But when he gave them the price, the woman acted sour and refused at once. She didn’t even try to bargain for a deal. I think selling must sometimes be hard. But he must be doing okay. He had a huge stock of goods in his shop. Some of the silks are quite expensive, but beautiful.
It is probably easier to sell to foreigners, I suppose, who do not have a good idea of the prices.
After the tea, I got away because I felt like I needed a rest. But it was hard getting out of that market, crowded with shoppers. It was quite a long way to the front and the hawkers came after me like flies on fresh meat. They were very much on top of me. Man! I couldn’t get rid of them! And then there was a woman with her baby who tried to throw the powdered milk scam on me once again. I don’t know how many times these women came at me with that powdered milk scam. It must be the most overworked scams in that place for foreigners. They better think up some new ones. I am sure they will, too.
A kid was coming and grabbing my ass from behind. I wanted to scream! Man! These people will drive one Stark Raving Fucking Mad! Finally, I just said to this guy who I was moving past: “Just leave me the fuck alone!” Boy! But they pretend not to understand that!
Meanwhile, all the Indians are strolling through the market and enjoying themselves, enjoying their leisure. And these leeches are coming after the foreigners. I seemed like I was one of the few there.
I could have gone berserk. It wouldn’t have been the first time. And start shouting! I did it once in Budapest when the metro police women kept bugging me about my ticket. I started shouting and the two women with badges just ran away. I escaped out of the metro. I was not trying to ride free. But with their help, I learned how to go free in about three days. They thought they were still communists, when that era had already died.
I was trying to flee the scene at Hogg Market, to escape the tout-hogs, but I could not get up enough speed because of the crowd and confusion. They had set up many markets in the street outside of the buildings and there was a mass of people. All confusion, with motor scooters, motor cycles, cars, jeeps, big vehicles, bicycles, in those small roads. Some Indians have gotten rich and have big beautiful vehicles.
Finally, I made it out of there and walked to the hotel. I will take my chances with the mosquitoes, more than with those pests. There were hawkers there who wanted to change money as well.
Along that wide avenue yesterday, I saw a large group of attractive young girls or women standing in a group. I don’t know what they were doing with them right then, but it seemed that they were certainly made up as call girls. Getting ready to go somewhere. That seemed perfectly clear. I cannot be sure, but that was my hypothesis.
I guess that there are lots of ways to take down women and that is one of them. On the other hand, maybe it gives them a better life. It is an empirical question. I do not know the answer.
This morning, I met some New Zealanders at breakfast. The Australians are still here too. One of the New Zealanders sat down at my table at breakfast. I asked the past middle aged guy if he was on a tour. He said, no, unfortunately, he had to work. I asked if he was Australian. He said, no, New Zealand. I could tell that his accent was not quite like the Australians.
His company is doing some kind of manufacturing in India. We had a good conversation. I told him about my photography. When I told him I was using black and white film, he tried to put me down. He said: “That’s sort of old school, isn’t it? Is anyone still making black and white film?”
Yes, old school, and getting more popular as more people get tired of digital. Kodak went back to making film, along with Ilford in England.
Another guy from the group came and they talked shop. There was a Chinese guy who was part of the group too.
And I found out that they are building roads in Afghanistan too. Their big concern seemed to be “getting the prices right.” I wonder if it is American money that is funding it. Subcontracting out, I suppose. Sounds like it would be funded by the US war machine in Afghanistan.
Now there is something that one cannot object to!
Nakhoda Masjid Area, Kolkata (India Blog 21)
December 11, 2018, Tuesday. Early morning, 7:15. “Well, here it is Tuesday, ain’t had no news,” as Hank Williams would say. “I’ve got those gone but not forgotten blues.” Nope. Unfortunately not the case.
I had a good sleep. I was up earlier and took a few pictures out my window with my cell phone.
I decided to go ahead and use the three rolls of black and white film that I have here in Calcutta. I will still have some colour film and I will supplement it with my cell phone. The pictures are different, but it is possible to make some with the cell phone. But they are not film! Now these cell phones are ubiquitous.
Being ubiquitous, people do not notice cell phones much. It is film cameras that are rare today.
I will head for Nakhoda Masjid (mosque) today.
3:00 Afternoon. A fine day’s outing, except for the very last, coming through Hogg Market. They spotted fresh meat. The hawkers and milk-powder scamming women were out for me big time there. Those hawkers can really be persistent. Absolutely! They will not let one go till one shouts and curses them out. Even then, they pretend not to understand it and continue! Good thing that I am not from Texas. One of them would surely get floored!
Anyway, I got through there and back to the hotel, after running the gauntlet. And the sons of bitches train those little kids to come after you too! That is really why they do not get more tourists in this country, I believe. So you have to get away from it or go Stark Raving Crazy!
One tends to forget that once out of the country.
So the day was not too bad. Good all around. I gave out the change that I had to beggars along the way. So that is now depleted. I now have nothing for beggars. But the city is so full of them that it hardly makes any difference. One could never have enough change to keep giving it out all day.
I think that the women with babies get to me worse than anything else. Get on my nerves the most. I had nothing to do with you producing the kid. Not me! I am not the guilty party!
Now I have to rest up for the evening. It would be nice to drink a beer. I think that I deserve one after that.
I made 260 photos with my cell phone today. Digital shit, of course.
4:00 Afternoon. I will write up some of my experiences today. In the morning, I went out into the street and got a taxi driver. He didn’t know where I wanted to go, but he pretended to know. I said Nakhoda Masjid. Clear as that. How could one mistake it? I don’t know if they listen carefully. He asked me for 300 rupees. It was way too much, so I agreed for 200.
He started up toward the city center but turned to the east. I told him that it was the wrong way. Because, I knew that the mosque was over to the west. I pointed to the other way, as he probably could not understand what I was saying. He didn’t pay any attention to me and kept going the wrong way.
It was clear to me that he didn’t know where he was going, so I said as clearly as I could “Nakhoda Masjid.” Anyone could understand it, but I think they do not actually listen. Maybe the area goes by a different name in Calcutta. Probably so.
Or maybe he would not think that a foreigner would want to go there!
Finally, I motioned to a guy on the street to ask him. I don’t know why the taxi driver did not ask someone. It seemed like he was a villager who had just come to the city recently. The guy that I asked then told the driver where to go. I knew the general direction. So then he turned around and went to the west, where I had pointed. So it was his fault that he went to the wrong place.
When we got there, I saw the Nakodha Masjid, the Nakhoda Mosque. It is in a rather closed building, not an open area like most mosques are. It was in a market area and I saw the beautiful minarets. Very colorful.
I paid him the 200 rupees, that we had agreed on. But then he asked for 400 rupees, because he had to circle around. But that was not my fault. He just screwed it up. Anyway, 200 was plenty, but I gave him 300 anyway. I knew that he would have to be satisfied with that.
When I got out, I recognized that it was in the same general area where I was yesterday. But the mosque was a little farther to the west. I would have come to the mosque yesterday if I had walked just a little farther.
I decided to use my cell phone to take pictures for some time, around the mosque. Actually, people pay less attention to one with a cell phone.
I generally do not make a photo of someone who asks me to make their photo, because they are not usually interesting people.
The other thing is that they may want money. I would rather make candid pictures of people on the street who do not know that they are being photographed.
If you just catch someone on the street, they do not have any right to ask you for money. And if they ask if I made their photo, I point to a building that I was photographing. If one is on the street, they have to expect that they may appear in some photograph.
I had some small ten rupee notes in my bag that I gave to beggars on the street. There were two blind guys across from the mosque and some others.
After a little bit, I got tired of scrabbling with the digital cell phone and got out my Leica M6. I finished the roll of colour film and put in a roll of Kodak Tri-X to push to ISO 1600. I went on down that street and reached the wide boulevard where I was yesterday.
Then I kept walking north on that wide avenue. I finished the roll of black and white in my Leica M6. It was a joy shooting with the Leica after using that joke of a cell phone. Digital bullshit. Horrible shit.
Now I have only two more rolls of black and white film.
There are interesting old buildings along the street close to the mosque to photograph. In one place, guys were constructing things on the street from bamboo. The pieces were laid out on the street.
Getting tired of walking, I got a taxi back to the hotel. I got out near Hogg Market. When the old Hindustan Ambassador taxi was stopped in traffic, I tried taking some shots out the window of the old taxi with the cell phone.
On an old beat-up bus, painted in bright red, white and blue colours, “Pilot.”
Where the driver sits. The Bengalis have a sense of humor.
“India is Great” painted on the back of buses.
“Blow Horn.” No need to ask that. Everyone does it all the time, anyway. I don’t know what good it does with all the horns going at once. Somehow the traffic snarls get straightened out in time.
Next stop: Lunch after pounding the pavement.
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.
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.
“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!
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.