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.
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.
“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.