Airport To Connaught Circus (India Blog2)

Blog 2 (To Connaught Circus)

I walked on and saw the prepaid taxi stands and scoped out the situation a little. I asked at one of the stands. He said Rupees 400 for Connaught Place. That sounded OK, but I had to go and change some dollars. I had just realized it. I walked back to the money exchange places and changed one hundred dollars. I didn’t want to change more because even the girl there told me that the rates at the airport were poor. It used to be the State Bank of India, but now, I guess the private places have taken over. It must be more efficient, at least. I had to show my passport and sign documents twice. So the bureaucracy is alive and well, even with money. The taxi guy had wanted to change money, but I figured it would be illegal and maybe a scam. So I thought I better do it the right way.

I came back and paid for the taxi and got the receipt. You keep one half of it and give the other half to the driver. The guy asked me what kind of money I had changed. Well, it was none of his concern, actually. I asked him why he wanted to know that.

People are continuously asking one things which they have no business asking. Things which do not concern them in the least. Sometimes it is for a purpose, so one should either give a phoney answer or not answer at all. It is usually none of their business. One question that I never answer is “what hotel are you staying at.” I don’t want them coming around looking for me.

If they ask where I am from, I generally say “Bangladesh.” It is worth a laugh.

The guy told me where the cars were outside. At least, it was organized and not the chaos that I remembered from the past. Nowadays, it seems that many people are going by the metro, so this has probably helped to straighten up the taxi mafia that used to operate so effectively.

When I came out, there was a guy at a stand across the street. He asked me to come. We walked some distance. I saw some small vans in the distance. At one point, I stopped and asked: “Why are we walking? Bring the car here.”

He said, “Walking is good in the morning.”

I told him that when I wanted to walk, I would walk. But why the hell should I walk if I am taking a taxi? And when I am tired from flying for hours! One needs a sense of humor.

But then, I walked a little farther. I thought that he was taking me to the driver, but it turned out that he was the driver.

He put one of my bags in the small van, but I had to put the other one myself.

Then he asked me to give him the chit for the trip. I told him: “If you get me to the hotel, I will give you the receipt.” I was being difficult because I read on the internet that sometimes if you give the receipt in advance they will drop you somewhere else. So I guess that he knew that I was not a dummy.

Actually, he needed the chit to show it to the guy at the gate where the cars exit. Anyway, he was just a poor guy. On the way, I asked him about Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India. Of course, he said that he loves him. The guy was twenty years old. Of course, he would love the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). The party appeals to that sort of lumpen elements in Indian society. He told me that his name was Ravi.

Ravi Shankar, I said. He liked it. It is a famous name.

Coming in, one could see the construction of more metro line. But I noticed that the buildings and housing look like slums, they are so run down and in need of paint. And there is much trash in many places along the road. Typical of India, unfortunately. There is really no reason that things could not be kept more clean and tidy. It could be, in spite of the poverty.

However, now the roads are much improved, very wide. The driving does not seem so wild as in Turkey. However, it was early morning. Little traffic.

We got to the hotel Alka Classic in Connaught Circus. I could not recognize it. It didn’t look the same at all. Ten years since I had been here. So I wondered if it was the real one, but it is, as far as I can tell. I recognized the hallway when I went upstairs. Fortunately, I had some twenty rupee notes so that I could tip the guys that carried my luggage.

I didn’t feel like sleeping at the time.

Afternoon: Three o’clock. I still was not able to sleep. Just when I laid down, a pounding started somewhere behind the walls. Sometimes it was very loud. Then the drilling started. Then some guys came to clean the room next to mine. They were talking and laughing loudly. Finally, I opened the door and asked why they were making so much noise. Shortly after that, they finished. But the drilling started loudly again.

Then there were big noises upstairs as if they were dismantling something like an air conditioner or water pipes. Anyway, that was a disaster for sleeping. I dropped off a couple of times, but then they woke me up.

Finally, I took a sleeping pill. It relaxed me, but did not put me to sleep. I also closed the vent where cold air was coming out.

Now the pounding goes on again. I started pounding the wall with the telephone receiver every time the pounding started. Now it has stopped.

A guy told me that this was the holiday of one of the Hindu Gods. Perhaps there are more such holidays due to increased Hindu revivalism.

But I am trying to give everything the benefit of the doubt. That’s true, but man! This construction in the hotel has got me down. They adopt all the modern things, cars, cell phones, internet, but still manage to produce a tacky-looking city. That’s what I see.

Just down the way, are all the old state government cottage emporiums. There are many of them. Some dating back to fifty years ago, when I was first here. I noticed that many of them seem to be in a sort of state of collapse. It does not appear that they are selling very much. I don’t know!

I finished my roll of black and white film in the Leica, walking there. I put in a new roll of Ilford, black and white film. I made some 15 shots on that roll. I saw some monkeys in one place behind a small temple.

It was just a small temple near a big tree. A guy was there pretending to be a priest. Perhaps pretending. Who knows? There was a sort of shack with a Goddess inside. What a racket! A way to make money. That seems to be what it is. But people go for it. People coming past were making their obeisance to the God as they passed. A shame, it appears to me. They need Karl Marx!

Thank goodness, that pounding has now stopped. It has quietened down. A guy met me just outside the hotel. He was telling me that there was a “government office” where I could get a map! He didn’t have any reason to think that I needed a map. And I wondered at once of it was a fake tourist information center. I had read about them, anyway. If it had anything to do with the government, anyway, I would avoid it.

Well, I feel more relaxed and might take a nap.

Now, I think that I have largely lost my enthusiasm for this country at this point. I am disillusioned!

I have seen the world and I am not impressed.” Edward Abbey.

I could not write this up in an artistic way today. No way.

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(1December 3) Izmir, Turkey to New Delhi, India

A blog about my travel to Delhi and Calcutta (Kolkata) in December 2018.

Izmir, Turkey to New Delhi, India

Part I: Delhi 1

December 3, 2018. Izmir, Turkey 12:00 Noon

Today I start my trip to India. Out about three. Taxi to the airport. Just got my first Blurb book today. Pictures are great. The Basmane section of Izmir. But I have to revise. I failed to get my name and the title on the cover.

3:40. Just took the taxi. Got checked into the airport. Very quiet here. Gave Selma a call. It was terrible easy. I came through security twice. No hangups. I hope it is almost that easy in Istanbul. But it is quite a long while before I am on that plane to Delhi.

4 December. 8:15. Delhi. Unbelievable, but I am here. Hotel Alka, New Delhi. Room 306. Well, it was not a bad trip. As good as could be expected with the crowds.

Man! This country looks much poorer than I thought it would. That’s the truth.

Right now, I could probably use some sleep, but I am not sleepy at all. So I will write up some of the story. It was a quick trip from Izmir to Istanbul. But the plane was packed. Still not bad. I came into the old airport. Then I went right through up to the international section and went through passport control. Then it was a very long walk to the departure gate for Delhi. I guess it must be the very last one. The farthest one. I only had to remove my shoes once.

They started loading, but the wait in the plane was very long. Most were Indians and they brought big bags into the cabin. Bigger than my checked bag.

My seat was up quite close to first class and an aisle seat that I asked for. There was an old Indian woman next to me with her young son, apparently. She could not understand a word of English from the Turkish stewardesses. But no matter. It was an OK flight. We flew along the Black Sea, over Georgia and Azerbaijan, to the north of Iran, then right down across Afghanistan and Pakistan. Just south of Kabul and over to Lahore, then down to Delhi.

I waited till the plane emptied to get out. I just did not want to rush. Then came through the airport a long way, down to passport control. There was a section for those with e-visas. It was not as professional as I expected. And the young guy did not take my fingerprints. However, I saw him do it to the girl in front of me. There is a camera that takes your picture, and probably blood pressure and pulse too. The guy ordered me to take my cap off.

He was such a crude young guy. No manners whatsoever. None!

After stamping my passport, he said loudly: “Go!” I was taken back.

I said to him, “Well, you don’t have to be so rude.” I don’t think that he understood the word “rude.” I know that I have gotten used to the polite manners that one sees in Turkey. What a big change in India!

Then I went on to find my luggage. The setup is rather strange, because before you get to the big luggage section, there appears many shops under blindingly bright, white, lights. I was wondering what had happened to the luggage, but it is on the other side of that section with shops.

It was a huge space. There must have been some twenty luggage belts. There is a board that shows where the luggage will come in, according to the flight number.

Man! Such confusion. The Indians had such big bags and so many of them. I tried to get close to the conveyor belt, but gave it up. I backed away from all the confusion and scrambling for bags. They created such an inordinate amount of confusion. I know that Indians love it!

A heavy woman in a Punjabi outfit was about to knock me over and she was apparently not even aware of what she was doing. They do not know manners. That is what struck me. All or most were peasants, it appeared.

But they are now living in the cities, presumably. Some of them, anyway.

I called Selma while I was waiting there and the phone worked fine. I was happy about that.

Finally, I got my bag. Thankfully! Indians are taking bigger ones than mine into the plane. It really seems out of control when it comes to peasants travelling from abroad with luggage.

I was ready to hit the streets, just as soon as I could get out of there.

On the Streets of Calcutta (Kolkata)

 

A walk in Calcutta in December 2018. There is much clutter in streets in Indian cities. It is sometimes difficult to isolate subjects for good framing. But one perhaps gets the idea of what goes on in Indian streets.

Pictures taken with a Leica M6. Leica Summarit 35 mm f 2.5 lens. Kodak Tri-X film shot at ISO 1600. Developed with Kodak HC-110 developer.

Street food is everywhere on the streets in Calcutta. It provides cheap meals for the many who could not afford to go to a restaurant. Efficient, even if sometimes disorderly.

Shops near Nakhoda Masjid (a large mosque) in the Moslem district.

A busy street

A lot of transportation by human power.

Goats and dogs share the street.

Street markets. Colorful, but I do black and white.

Carrying goods by rickshaw is common.

Street food for goats too.

A meat shop.

More Street Food.

Street life

Tata Trucks

Long Road Ahead for a human draft animal.

Loading Up

Entrance to Nakhoda Masjid (Mosque)

Street Restaurant

The Red Rose

Local Street Toughs. They asked me for dollars.

The old Rickshaw, waiting for the human horse.

Trees grow out of an elegant old building on a main street.

Gateway to Paradise

Busy Street

Corner Shop

Street Life

Heavy Load. One way to carry it.

Moti Mahal Guest House

That’s a lot of street life on one roll of film. One section of a great and dynamic city. One can come to love it, the same way one loves any great city in the world.

 

A Roll of Film in Old Delhi (Part 2)

Sitting down across the street from the entrance to an old Mosque, I shoot pictures on the street.

Leica M6 TTL Camera. Kodak Tri-X Black and White Film pushed to ISO 1600.

A peanut seller appears with his cart.

First Customer

A heavy load

The Peanut Man

Group of women pass

Young girl wants to buy peanuts

Taking a stroll

Another Rickshaw passes

Another Customer

Some Poor Mother

On the corner is a juice bar.

And the busy street full of confusion

Even more lovely confusion ahead. A dynamic country!

All shots with a Leica M6 TTL Camera. Leica Summarit 35 mm f 2.5 Lens. Kodak Tri-X Black and White film. Developed with Kodak HC-110 Developer. Film pushed to ISO 1600. 

A Roll of Film in OId Delhi

Sitting down in the same spot and shooting a roll of film just across from a mosque in a street in Old Delhi.

All pictures shot with a Leica M6 TTL Camera. Leica Summarit 35 mm f 2.5 Lens.

Kodak Tri-X Film (Shot at ISO 1600). Kodak HC-110 Developer. December 2018.

A Rickshaw passes with two ladies.

Delivering Propane gas the hard way.

A milk vendor arrives.

Humping Rickshaw puller. Poor guy.

On Foot, maybe travelling.

In the constant stream of Rickshaws.

Women pass.

This section is almost all Moslem.

On the Street

Checking things out.

Bags of flour to the bakery.

Rickshaw School bus

More kids going home

The Squint

On the Road Again

Father and Daughter