I had a terrible sleep with dreams of people haggling about money, I could not understand. I woke up with a churning stomach. A twenty minute ride to the clinic, $.04 for the visit and an hiur on oxygen and … Continue reading
When Santanu told me not to go anywhere for my first 2 or 3 days here, he was right – we’re at 11,000 ft. elevation. I flew in, had breakfast, and walked down the road and up a small hill … Continue reading
The Botanical Gardens in Calcutta during monsoon season is extremely lush. I wouldn’t describe them as neat… but what about this city IS neat? Nothing. Birds called out from the bushes and trees in variety of tones and trills, but … Continue reading
“Where do you want to go?” my friend Santanu asked me, hoping to steer me to the right places in my last few days here in Calcutta. “Wherever you think will give me an idea of what it is like … Continue reading
MOTHER OF 300 MILLION, MOTHER INDIA
I walked along the Ganges today, ghats on my right and incredible slums and poverty on my left. Ghats are platforms and steps, stone or marble, leading down into the water in India. People wash their clothes, their bodies, their hair. They play, swim, and let go of the ashes of their relatives, who have been recently been cremated on the highest step of the ghat. I listened to someone explain the steps of the process and watched one body burning beneath a pile of wood. It felt more like part of the cycle of life and death than being in a traditional “funeral parlor.”
I hired a young man to walk with me and explain some things. He helped me stay aware of the social cues I’d be expected to know, like don’t take photos when the police are around, because of the tension with Pakistan. Raju showed me where the famous poet Tagore was cremated, which has become a devotional place.
I saw cobra handlers open baskets and stir the snakes into raising their hoods, while men tossed coins into the baskets, then I watched the cobras drinking milk from a cup. I saw huge, painted clay deities like Hanuman and Kali wrapped in garlands of flowers from devotees. Then I walked to the flower market under Howard’s Bridge, mind-boggling in the number of flowers and the handiwork to make those garlands.
I met what must have been a test for me, a test of my patience, in a beggar who had flawless English. He demanded to know where I was from, so I told him, thinking that would shut him up…wrong. “You are USA, I am a crippled man, you should give me 100 rupee’s!!!” It was everything I could do NOT to answer him. Namaste.
I walked along the Ganges today, ghats on my right and incredible slums and poverty on my left. Ghats are platforms and steps, stone or marble, leading down into the water in India. People wash their clothes, their bodies, their … Continue reading
I walked through the poor neighborhood by Ghirish Park around 7:30 am today. Santanu told me it would be a good place to get lost in. “No one will bother you,” he said. And he was right, no one did. … Continue reading