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.
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.