Hello from Kolkata!|
We are in Kolkata at the moment. It is a challenging and rewarding city. We have seen the Victoria Memorial, outside of which sits my favourite Queen. She appears regularly throughout this amazing city. Young or old, she is beautiful! Yesterday we went to the Botanical Gardens to see the tree with the world's biggest canopy: The Banyan tree. It was impressive. We are staying in a hotel run by a crazy old expat called Violet. Everyday I am haunted by images of her friend Felicity Kendall. Violet's husband looks like Jim Jones which is also disconcerting.
WE haven't really made any hip friends yet; except for an alcoholic, sex-starved local man who frequents the Fairlawn bar (at the hotel where we are staying.) He is very nice, but very touchy-feely. Sarah is getting felt up and ogled a lot. It makes Emma's experiences in this field pale in comparison. EVERYONE stares at you. But it is OK.
We also had the most amazing experience at the Kali temple. For you ignorami, Kali is the Goddess of power who is always depicted beheading men with her tongue poking out. She is intimidating to say the least. Anyway, we went to her temple on a Sunday, and saw three goats beheaded within 20 seconds. Their headless bodies twitch a lot. On Sunday, 120 goats are sacrificed to Kali. Unfortunately we were ripped off by a "priest" but what can you do?
The food has been incredible and extraordinarily cheap ($2/head) and I guess people are friendly. There are lots of painful shoeless backpackers who we like to call "sleepers," but they are exclusive and irritating. Tonight we are catching the train to the mountains, which should be fun. Kolkata is very polluted.
Sarah will write now.
It's been amazing here, really mind-blowing. Kali rocks my socks, the temple was unbelievable. As Harry mentioned, we saw some sacrifices. On our first day, we were sitting in a park, watching goats getting herded into the city. We wondered where all those goats were going. Now we know.
The culture here is completely different from Australia - in social situations, men (like our alcoholic friend) will completely ignore me, even if I speak directly to them. On the street, however, they stare openly and often just walk up to you in an attempt to cop a feel.
The markets were exciting. This city is unbelievably polluted, as Harry said - this thick haze hangs in the air, and you can kind of taste it. I'm sure Darjeeling will be a lot cleaner.
The food is great here. Harry eats like a starving African child, you'd think he'd never seen rice before. "Mutton" on a menu means goat.