January 19, 2007

At last, in the city of Joy (Bilingue)

ENGLISH VERSION IN ITALICS

Photos : Click here

Il est encore très tôt pour que je puisse donner des nouvelles vraiment intéressantes de l’Inde. Pour le moment, je suis à Calcutta, dans la province du Bengal Oriental. J’ai passe moins de 24 heures a Dehli et n’ai presque rien vu – sur la route de l’aéroport a l’hôtel il faisait sombre comme dans un four et je n’ai pratiquement rien vu. J’ai cru déceler sur un rond-point un mini-bidonville, mais dans l’obscurité, c’était presque un vision fantomatique. Dans la journée précédant avant-hier donc je suis arrivée a 1h du matin a Delhi, j’ai passe quelques heures a l’hôtel, je suis allée passer quelques heures au bureau, et a 16h je partais pour l’aéroport prendre mon vol sur Calcutta. En passant, j’ai manque mon vol, le chauffeur ne savait pas ou était l’aéroport !!!! This is India, I guess !

With regard to India, it is still very early for me to give you guys really interesting news. For the moment, I am in Calcutta, in the province of West Bengal. I have spent less than 24 hours in Dehli and so have almost not seen anything considering that on the road from the airport to the hotel the it was dark as in a furnace. I believe I noted on a roundabout a mini-slum, but in the darkness, it was a ghostly vision. The day before the day before yesterday I arrived at 1AM in Delhi, I spent a few hours at the hotel, I went to spend a few hours in the office, and at 4PM I left for the airport to take my flight on Calcutta. However, I missed my flight because the driver did not know where the airport was!!!! This is India, I guess!

Delhi 1

Depuis mon arrivée à Calcutta, je n’ai pas vu grand-chose, je fait la navette entre le bureau et l’hôtel. Les Indiens (devrais-je dire les Bengali) sont très gentils, très serviable. On sent en eux un désir de plaire et de faire plaisir très palpable, c’en est par moment même un peu gênant, je dois l’admettre. Calcutta pour le moment me semble très loin des stéréotypes qu’on a en tête lorsqu’on évoque la ville. En arrivant de l’aéroport, je ne pouvais pas m’empêcher de me demander : mais ou sont les gens ? Papa aurait été déçu (ou soulage?) : j’attends encore les grandes foules et les rickshaw promis par la Cite de la Joie.

Since my arrival in Calcutta, I did not see much, I have just been shuttling between the office and the hotel. The Indians (should I say the Bengali) are very nice, very obliging. One feels in them a desire to please which is per moments even a little awkward, I must say. Calcutta for the moment seems to me far from the stereotypes that one has in mind when the city is evoked. While arriving at the airport, I could not prevent myself from wondering: but where are the people? My dad would have been disappointed (or relieved?): I am still waiting to see the large crowds and the rickshaw promised by the City of Joy.

Kolkata Street scenes 07

En ce qui concerne l’insalubrité et les odeurs, je ne constate pour le moment rien qui soit bien différent de ce que nous connaissons de nos expériences africaines. Les odeurs ceci dit sont peut-être plus fortes que je ne le pense : je suis enrhumée jusqu’au front – donc je ne sens pas grand-chose pour le moment. Par contre, la légendaire humidité de Calcutta est très visible, les immeubles sont noircis par la mousse, un peu comme à Conakry. Tous les matins, je suis réveillée par les cris des corbeaux. C’est un peu sinistre, mais ca a l’avantage que je ne suis pas en retard au travail !

With regard to insalubrity and odors, I do not note for the moment anything which is quite different from what I have experienced in Africa. The odors however are perhaps stronger than I think: I have been down with a bad cold for a while - thus I do not smell much for the moment. On the other hand, the legendary moisture of Calcutta is very visible, the buildings are blackened by moss, as in Conakry. Every morning, I am awakened by the cries of the crows. It is a little sinister, but it has the advantage that I am not late at work!

Kolkata Street scenes 09

L’hôtel a Calcutta est très confortable – il y a un gym que j’ai teste hier matin – j’ai couru un beau 20 minutes avant le petit déjeuner, et j’ai recommence ce matin. J’ai du mal a trouver des repas légers par contre – me croiras-tu si je te dis que ca fait deux soirs de suite que je mange de la soupe, faute de trouver de la salade? J’ai décidé d’essayer d’arrêter de fumer hier. Comme en Inde il est socialement inacceptable pour une femme de fumer, le contexte se prête a une tentative.

The hotel in Calcutta is very comfortable - there is a gym which I tested yesterday morning - I ran a beautiful 20 minutes before breakfast, and again this morning. I however am having trouble to find light meals - will you believe me if I tell you that two evenings in a row I ate soup, since I can’t get my hands on any bunny food? I decided to try to stop smoking yesterday. As in India it is socially unacceptable for a woman to smoke, the context lends itself to an attempt.

Kolkata - Victoria Memorial 6

Ce dimanche je prends encore l’avion pour un trou perdu du Nord-Bengal du nom de Siliguri – je vais y passer 4 jours avec un partenaire. Comme il y aura une journée fériée dans le milieu de mon séjour, je vais passer une journée en visite dans la province voisine de Darjeeling, ou je pourrais visiter un hospice tenu par un prêtre canadien. Ca devrai être intéressant. Dans la province de l’Ouest Bengal, le gros de nos activités se définit en distribution de nourriture aux indigents. Notre plus gros sous-récipient : les Missionnaires de la Charité de Mère Theresa – je m’attends donc à voir des lépreux et autres miséreux pendant mes visites de terrain. En quelque part, c’est bien. Je pousse mon intérêt pour l’humanitaire à l’ extrême.

westbengal-tourist-map

CLICK ON THE MAP FOR LARGER IMAGE

This Sunday I still travel by plane for a godforsaken hole in North-Bengal by the name of Siliguri - I will spend there 4 days with a partner. Because there is going to be a statutory holiday in the middle of my stay, I will spend one day visiting the nearby state of Darjeeling, where I will visit an hostel held by a Canadian priest. It should be interesting. In the province of West Bengal, our largest activities is food distribution to the needy. One of our larger sub-recipients are Mother Theresa’s Order of the Missionaries of Charity - so I expect to witness leprosy and other miseries during my field visits. In a way, it is fitting. I am pushing my interest for humanitarian affairs to the extreme.

The Beaver


My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

7 comments:

Garris said...

Fascinating impressions and great photos. I'm particularly fond, artistically, of "View from my room27."

Friends of mine from India say there are essentially no traffic rules there, that it's a kind of mass-understood chaos system. Like an ant colony...

As always, good luck and g-dspeed on your continuing journey.

Salt Water said...

Wow! This post is fantastic. How do you manage when you miss your flight because a driver can't find an airport? Scary. Pretty people though. You must be near the soul of the world, if you are anywhere near Mother Theresa's work. I am so glad I know about your blog. I probably get points in heaven just for knowing you. Thanks Oh Great One.

frog with a blog said...

I will be looking forward to hearing the rest of your adventures. You are so lucky to get to see so much. Although I'm sure Kolkata can be as exciting as it can be scary. I also picture you in La Cité de la Joie, in a very colorful and rikshaw environment. Maybe a goodlooking French doctor looking like Patrick Swayze 20 years ago will pop up at the street corner for you...

strudel said...

THE ADVENTURES OF BEAV IN INDIA- A Maharajah disguised as a taxi-driver falls in love with the Beav and doesn't want her to leave.

http://www.strudelbum.com/my_india.htm

Before giving the Beav any unwanted suggestion, better to give a look to her horrid relatives in Russia.

http://www.strudelbum.com/russian_relatives.htm

More coming soon !!!

Strudel

Saur♥Kraut said...

Very interesting about the leprosy. Why isn't it completely wiped out by now?

It's also interesting to hear that it's not socially acceptable for women to smoke there. I'm glad you're trying to quit, for your own sake.

As for the smells, I remember hearing in "Room With a View" that each city has it's own unique smells. Is that true?

strudel said...

I saw your comment by chance, since I usually do not visit my blogspot. Sent you an e-mail to travellingbeaver@aim.com . Hope all's well that ends well.
Strudel

Beaver said...

Garris,
Hey thanks for checking out with such detail my pictures. I have a couple more that I need to post soon.

Your friends are correct. Crossing the street here is an adventure! I will admit that I am a little bit afraid of crossing alone. The locals seem to have a great radar for it - but I feel highly inadequate.

Salt Water,
well things went like this - my contact in Delhi was required to organize the logistics of my transfer to KOL. But since they don't have that many available cars, they hired an independant car. Apparently, the guy didn't know where the airport was (for local flights). Maybe he lied to them, what do I know?

Honey I don't know about the heaven points. Don't ask me for a refund if Saint Peter tells you the same thing. :o)

Mother Theresa is an iconic figure here in India and the Missionaries of Charity are beautiful people. They really try their best and give it their all. I feel humbled by their generosity.

frog with a blog,
I am still looking for the French, medically able Patrick Swayze look-alike. He seems to be awol. I want a refund.

Blague a part, check this blog for richshaws. I did catch some over the week. (since the post, basically.)

strudel,

Oh boy. Is that a bollywood scenario? Maharajahs by the way are out of the picture in modern India !

And watch out what you say about my relatives

Saur♥Kraut,
I don't know for sure why LP is not completely wiped out. My guess is that it has to do with availability of medical care and knowledge about transmission of the disease.

Women who smoke publicly in most Asian countries are perceived to be of loose morals, to put it lightly. I already get a lot of male attention (what can I say, blonde hair stands out) - so smoking is not in my plans.

It's a good question about the smells. I remember that West Africa has a special smell, and so do other areas of the world. I'm not sure it applies specifically to cities.