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Irene's Adventures

India - Kolkata

INDIA | Saturday, 25 September 2010 | Views [738]

When we got to Kolkata I guarded the bags while the kids went to find a hotel.  One thing that was noticably different in Kolkata was the lack of cows in the street.  Apparently, the city has removed the cows - maybe to a pasture??:) 

The other thing was that the rickshaws here were pulled by man.  This is the only place in India where you will find this.  These men pull significant human weight down rough stone streets. They almost never wear shoes and one wonders just how tough the bottoms of their feet must be.  One guy we saw had such flat feet, they were like duck feet, flat and splayed.  How many years had he trudge these streets, pulling those who can afford and who chose not to soil their shoes?  One also wonders just how far they travel with their fares.  I suspect they stay within a very small area.

There are old fashioned water pumps interspersed on the streets, where one can see people bathing (discretely not revealing any private parts), shaving, washing clothes, brushing teeth and children playing in the water.  I also saw a sidewalk urinal; a partial wall dividing 3 urinals, interesting.  Blue tarps attached to the metal window grating on one side have bricks or large stones holding the other side in place, creating a lean-to where one can see beds, drying laundry and cooking pots inside.  In all of this, the streets were noticably tidier.

Len and I got to try some paan, the nasty betel nut concoction that is spit on every surface in India.  Typically, these paan vendors are very secretive and mysterious and camera leary; but somehow Len struck up a conversation with one fellow who actually made us each a packet (no tabacco) of his trade.  He dipped into various bottles, jars and cans, adding mysterious items to the leaf, which he folded into a perfect triangle and told us to pop it into our mouths.  We were to chew and swallow, not spit it out.  Amazingly it was quite nice tasting.  Every chew had a different flavor.  It also left our tongues slightly numb.  Then he made another packet, with what looked like jam.  This one was very tasty, kind of a dessert paan.

  paan vendor

Kolkata still had crazy drivers.  We took a taxi to the Kali temple on a one way street.  The driver proceeded to turn around and go the wrong way.  We calmly asked him if this was a one way street.  He calmly replied 'yes'.  "Then why are you driving the wrong way?"  "Becasuse I need to turn left just up here."   OK,,,,,,

Although the guest house was very nice and the bed actually semi-soft, I hardly slept due to pain.  My arm was in pain, it hurt no matter which way I held it.  Maybe it was from cradling my left arm, but my right shoulder was actually in more pain than the left, broken arm. My left knee was mysteriously beginning to swell and hurt.  I was beginning to feel like I had been in a car accident.

I had decision to make.  Do I try to tough through 3 more weeks of India - bearing in mind that in 2 days we were heading to Kerala, where every traveller coming from Kerala sung the praises of how beautiful and restful it was - or do I admit that I am not superwoman and this pain is probably a good indication that something is wrong and possibly I should have it checked by western doctors?



laundry service

I made my decision to return home.  I contacted my travel agent, Tanya Fukushima 780-201-7674, and she arranged to have my tickets changed for next day departure from Delhi, at minimal cost.  RBC Visa Avion was covering the cost of my interupted travel through the insurance aspect of this particular card.  This is the same card that paid me  $1000 for my misplaced luggage in Thailand. It is also why I have this particular card. Since I had to fly to Delhi that night and depart the next day, Michaela insisted I stay at the Radisson in Delhi.  She said they had airport shuttle, and would take care of me.  Thank you Michaela for your insistance.  They were excellent.


20 hours of actual flight time and 6 hours of layovers later, I arrived back in Edmonton, where my sister, Helen, met me at the airport and took me to emergency the next day.  My left arm was x-rayed again and confirmed a fractured radial head.  The cast was removed, as this particular break is better not immobilized. An x-ray on my knee showed nothing,  anti-inflamitory took care of the problem in short order. My sore shoulder was adjusted by my chiropractor.  Ed had us moved into the condo in Ft. McMurray, without me lifting a finger. :) 

So this tale ends with India winning this round.  Would I go back?  In a minute!!  I was told that India would shatter every belief I ever had about everything.  It did.  It certainly makes one see things in a whole different way.  Len had likened it to a horrific car crash, you know you shouldn't look but somehow you are compelled.  As one German fellow, who has been travelling to India for about 25 years told us, "India is the greatest teacher.  She is a big mirror, reflecting our inner self back to us.  Sometimes it is horrifying."  

India is REAL!  It is in your face, all day, every day.  There is no reprieve.  It challenges one on every level; physical, psycological, spiritual and emotional.  In defense of India, I once broke my big toe washing my kitchen floor, and someone I know got salmonella from eating a farm fresh egg.  Although I did not enjoy breaking my arm or having Delhi-belly, India is just too intriguing to NOT go back!  I thank her for the hard lessons she taught me.  I patiently await the next time round.........



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