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Predictably Enough

INDIA | Friday, 11 December 2015 | Views [431]

Predictably enough, after coffe and diet coke, I could not get to sleep last night. I lay awake stewing over Nadeem's comment - Nadeem is the best and PUSHIEST manager I've ever had - and listening to the increasingly irritable howl of dogs, the quawing of crows and the mashing and corrigated iron on concrete dragging sounds of workmen on the adjacent plot. If I were in Benidorm I would be complaining vigorously and demanding a full refund. As it's India, well it's India and I'm not complaining. I may be whingeing (thank you Rich for very tactfully correcting me on my spelling of this word - I have been wingeing intil now) but that is essential.

It was actually quite cold last night. Two blankets cold. That's not a whinge, more a statement of fact.

ANYWAY, I was up reasonably early having had some sleep in the end and did the usual chi gung, yoga, meditation routine. I've had a problem with the plumbing in the toilet. The pipe from the cystern did not connect very well with the toilet bowl and as a result much of the flush was bypassing the porcelain area and making its way directly to the floor. Something else to take up with the travel agent. Thankfully this is fixed now.

The plan today, Nadeem notwithstanding, was to take it farily easy again. I sorted out a recharge on the data sim from the Vodafone store (check out the photos!) and then hailed a yellow taxi to take me to the botanical gardens (checkoutthephotos!!). The driver was very friendly and in a very friendly way told me that this would cost 300 rupees. I've been in Calcutta long enough to know that he was cutting himself a good deal but I had my data sim recharge and as my attempts to haggle met with a smile and a firm refusal I agreed to the 300 rupees and sat back to enjoy the journey. 

Actually it was, in fairness, quite a long journey over the scarily massive new bridge and through whole new areas on the other side of the river - also scary having got used to this side. 310 rupees later, I forked out a further 10 rupees for the toll on the bridge, my smiling driver dropped me off at the bicentennial gate of the gardens. 10 rupee entry for native Indians, 120 rupees, including photography rights, for foreigners. I didn't play the 'I was born here mate' card and just coughed up.

For the next few hours I wandered around the gardens pretending I was Bhante and trying to be very mindful. Please check out the photographs to get a little idea. The main attraction is the Guinness Book of Records Banyan tree which I did find awe inspiring. The main trunk of it has actually died but it lives on quite happily courtesy of the roots that come down from the branches to burrow into the ground. An analogy for some things for sure.

Having been a cold night it was a pretty hot day. In parts of the gardens I was reminded of a hot July day in England with a cool breeze coming off the water, the shelter of the foliage and a piercing heat. Other things to note were the usual Indian young lovers on benches and huge black and brown butterflies that hovered more like hawks than bflies.

Nadeem, you might have been impressed with the journey back but probably not. My first Indian bus from the gardens to Shibpur, a short stroll through the backstreets of Shibpur to the Ghat and then a ferry to Chandpal ghat on the other side of the river by Eden Gardens Cricket Ground, hallowed be its name. Total cost 12 rupees (7 for bus and 5 for ferry). So it cost me 310 rupees to get to the Botanical Gardens and 12 rupees to get back (I know you probably worked that out already)!!! If you know how and speak some Benghali and Hindi you can live cheap as Kolkata chips.

From Chandpal Ghat I walked to the Eastern Railway Terminus on Fairlie Place and bought a ticket to the rail head serving Darjeeling, New Jalpaiguri, for this Sunday. I had been considering staying a little longer in Calcutta but this did not feel quite right when I mentioned this to the guest house and I also had Nadeem's advice knocking about my system, hard as I had tried to shift it. So Darjeeling here I come. I'm quite excited though I will be a little sad to be leaving my room that, bathroom problems aside, has been very comfortable (thank you Abhayadevi!).

Mentioning the very lovely ABD reminds me that I also took a photo which I shall add later of a ship at Shibpur called Samudra. That's for the benefit of Samudragosha if he is reading this. If I remember correctly Samudra means something like the deep.

Last but not least, food. This time taken at the very cheap Blue Sky Cafe in Sudder Street where I was spared berating myself for not speaking to a seemingly lively and lovely black american girl by, of course, her being on her computer (skyping I think). I do berate myself for not talking to the French seeming fellow who sat next to me as I was finishing my food. I resolve to be more friendly and take any knockbacks that I must.

Amen and love to all.


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