Friday, November 04, 2005

Some initial impressions

Maybe it's the festivals that've been going on since we arrived in the country but I'm inclined to disagree with people that complain about Calcutta. It's a different experience though, that's for sure. Everything out here is a total assault on the senses. There is so much colour in the dress and jewelry worn by the women, so much sound, from the constant noise of horns and traffic to the shouts of shop owners and lively local music played everywhere at full volume. Let's not even get started on the smells. One minute you'll have all the food stalls on the street with their myriad of smells, walk 50ft down the road and you'll suddenly gag at the strong smell of garbage or urine from a public dumping ground on the sidewalk. Things just change so fast.
But that's just the way things are here. I saw a herd of goats being led down our street in Calcutta the other day. They are in the middle of the city. Where could they possibly be going? They also have water pumps in the middle of the sidewalks. But it's all too intense for us compared to home. You have to sort of zone out and be half comatose to survive it all, otherwise the garbage, beggars, horns, the sheer number of people and all the other wildness would drive you crazy too fast. 12hr bus rides actually take 18hrs and "soon" actually means "forget about it, you'll never get it". I'd hate to start my trip here that's for sure. Maybe that's why so many travellers are on drugs here.....
In a way India is much easier to travel in compared to where we've been. It's definately a different game. The challenge is no longer getting what you want because of the language barrier but a matter of getting it at a reasonable price. Getting it is never in doubt. This, however, has it's drawbacks as you have less of a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day but more one of doubt that you were actually successful in your goals. But it is nice to be able to sit down and talk to a local and get them to explain things about the country or just tell you stories. It's something that we haven't been able to do for a while.


At 9:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did not want to color your perceptions by telling you earlier what H. J. de Blij said of Calcutta in "Geography: Realms, Regions, and Concepts", the best book on world geography by the best authority: "Calcutta is synonymous with all that can go wrong in large cities: poverty, dislocation, disease, pollution, crime, corruption. To call a city the Calcutta of its region is to summarize urban catastrophe." I wanted to get your own impressions. Daughter Deborah said it as well as you did about Calcutta, except to add that women are mistreated on the streets more often than not. As I said, Calcutta and many other world cities need a lot TLC in time and incorruptable funding. A classic city, even if bad. Jim

At 9:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ammon, Maggie, Breanna, and Savannah: Come home safe and sound; the world is struggling right now with lots of issues. France is really struggling (firestorm of rioting in 300+ towns), as is Pakistan (earthquake damage and winter threatening). Please consider returning to your Canadian homeland, when you have seen enough and need to see no more of that troubled world out there. Love, Jim


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