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Here, there, everywhere... A modest attempt at chronicling my around the world adventure over the next year (or so).

Oh Kalkotta!

INDIA | Wednesday, 8 July 2009 | Views [897]

Well as you can read we decided not to visit Nepal instead opting for Kolkata where we could spend close to a week working with fast internet for job related items. We traveled to Kalcuta on our first train in India with the American Indian boys, Anand and Ankit. They were flying to Bangkok from Kalcuta the next day so after we arrived and found a hotel, we toured the city and celebrated 4th of July with a toast and a round of the Star Spangled Banner in a restaurant!

The next morning we bid farewell to our new friends and wished them a safe and fun journey in Thailand and Cambodia. I warned them one last time about the ladyboys in Thailand after all they are two young eligible bachelors! Oh we also had to settle the "account" with a tailor that the boys paid to have two sport jackets made which were not properly fitting and were late by the time they had to leave for the airport. I am now carrying Anand's jacket through the rest of India, fits nicely by the way...After they left Jessica and I found a little internet cafe close to the hotel and got down to job business. We spent the better part of the next five days on the computer 4-5 hours a day. We wanted to get a head start to the job search process so when we returned to the US we had some things in the hopper. Sorry this will be a bit boring for most to read but sometimes work before play or in this case finding work. We did save the last day for a little sight seeing including a visit to the Victoria Memorial for you guessed it Queen Victoria, a holdover for British colonialism.

One thing was pretty obvious during our stay in Kalcutta-the poverty and filth in the streets. According to a recent article I read while in Kalcutta, the city has more homeless people then both Mumbai and Delhi combined, almost 70,000 people! Of course that is probably too low as it is hard to get an accurate count of homeless folks. The  homeless are sleeping on sidewalks, streets, alleys, basically anywhere they can find shelter from the heat and monsoon rains. There are also many, many beggars, it really can get to you how sad the situation is for people. But as we have learned in many poverty stricken places around the world, it is better to give your assistance at a local charity or at least something to eat rather then outright money. Although it is hard to resist we managed to not give out money aside from once in a while when Jess can't take it anymore and gives a little to a half-naked child begging at our feet.

Many people bypass Kolcutta during a visit to India for precisely the reasons I mentioned above-poverty and filth. We actually found Kalcutta to be pleasant and interesting for some of these very same issues. It is not that India does not have these issues across the entire country, it does. Kalcutta is no different it just seems more magnified and part of the city fabric. If ever visiting India give Kalcutta a try, you might find yourself feeling very uncomfortable and relaxed all in one!  Next stop the burning bodies of Varanasi...

Tags: beggars, kolkata, monsoon

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