Escape from kalkotta

Trip Start Dec 28, 2004
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of India  ,
Friday, October 21, 2005

ah where to begin...i suppose the flight into india is as good a place as any. i know im speaking from some buried deep seeded religous or ethnic bias but my sense of safety and security was not reinforced when i noticed that the pilot and copilot were both wearing turbins. do you think that the homeland security people quietly freak out every time an air inida plane lands in the u.s. , what with the turbined guys at the controls of a 747 and all? the flight was pretty uneventful although the indians take the phrase "you are free to move about the cabin" quite literally. groups would gather up by the cockpit, over by the bathrooms, near a seat. no one would sit down for more then a few minutes. the stewardess's were trying to do the meal service? oh well, not sitting down for that either. all was well until the moment we landed at which point we bounced pretty good off the tarmac and upon coming back down to earth the second time, we started to kind of skid and lean all cockeyed down the runway. all the westerners were sure that death was iminent but the indians seemed to take it in stride. i presume this was a normal landing for them.

i now understand why indians are cab drivers back in the states. i will never fear for my life in a cab in america.....i thought that bangkok was bad and that the cabbies there had a death wish but now i feel safe even there. the cabs here in calcutta cant go nearly as fast but they make up for it just by the shear number of close calls and disregard for human saftey. we were 5 minutes out of the airport parking lot and our driver already got into an accident (minor). the cabs look like smaller versions of old 1950's chevy's and run even worse. there was a lit shrine to shiva on the dashboard as he swerved and swung around busses and cars and human powered rickshaws coming within literal inches to side swiping the neighboring car. i had to pull my elbow back in from sitting on the rolled down window because it kept scraping against passing cars...i shit you not.

as for calcutta itself...its flooded. the monsoons are supposedly over but it hasnt stopped raining since i got here and the streets are about thigh deep in water. now when you factor in this is probably the dirtiest city on earth with people crapping in the streets....and now you have to walk through water. sigh, joy. i made it to a market down the street from where im staying and as i walked up i saw that there were 20-30 ravens circling above the building. the market was inside and under a series of connected buildings. the newest about 30 years old and the oldest about the time of christ. i couldnt figure why the birds were circling. i mean i knew they are carrion birds, eating dead animals but unless there is a cow dying down the street there were wayyyy to many birds. i crept my way through the indoor market, it reminded me of the bangkok weekend market minus the charm, sun and worthwhile products. the interesting thing though is that i stumbled into this dark cavernous chamber which was...surprise surprise, a kind of public slaugter house/butcher shop.....and THATs what the birds were circling. the area consisited of just waist high stone tables that have been worn smooth over the years and on those tables is where the butchers cut up whatever animal is on the menu. the ground consisted of cobble stone that was slick with years of animal fat that had glazed its bricks. due to the water I NEED TO GET OUT OF KALLKOTA and thats what my day consists of tomorrow. you can make a movie out of it....escape from kalkota, starring the wandering jew NEAL
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