Category: India, 2018

Kolkata, Day Two: Flower Markets, Ghats, Synagogues, Pandals and Street Scenes

October 14

Slept longer than the night before, and I think I may be back to normal, whatever that may be. Coffee in the room. Service at the Oberoi Grand is terrific. I like the hotel a lot, better than the newer, more opulent Oberois in which I’ve stayed elsewhere.

After an excellent buffet breakfast (eggs Benedict), I meet Partha at 9AM. The very full day included stops at the flower market

At the ghats, where people wash themselves and their clothes, and lie around

at a beautiful Jewish synagogue, Meghan David, not not in operation

We had an extraordinary experience getting to the synagogue. The alley leading to the synagogue was blocked by merchants selling their wares. When our driver indicated that he wanted to back into the alley, the merchants, instead of simply suggesting that we walk the twenty or so yards to the synagogue, moved all of their wares that were blocking the alley and helped direct us as to how to back in. I was dumbfounded at their kindness, and told our guide so.

In the more upscale and greener area of South Calcutta, we saw three more amazing pandals, one of which had been judged the best pandal in Calcutta. The crowds were huge and one needed to push his way, somewhat, to get in. I remarked to our guide that it was “pandalmonium”, and he laughed and said he was going to use that term with other clients. Here is a sampling of some of the pandals and surrounding crowds.

Remember: all of these pandals are created for the ten days of the festival, and then taken down.

I think my favorite photographs, though, are of street scenes that just happen.

Partha wanted to take me by the Taj Hotel on our way back, because he’s friendly with the concierge there and I think is trying to drum up business for them. It’s a big, modern, five-star hotel that’s very nice, but not nearly as appealing to me as the Oberoi. I told Patha, but not the concierge this.

We returned to the hotel a bit after four, tired from the heat and humidity, as well has all the activity. During the course of the day, we drove by or through various other things, that I have spared you hearing about.

Showered, began to get ready for tomorrow and went down for dinner at the fancy Thai restaurant in the hotel. Meal was just terrific; not good, not excellent, but terrific. Asked chef to come out so that I could tell him. Even people who think/know that they are good like to hear it from others. I also think that it’s incumbent on those of us who are not bashful about pointing out when something is not right to let people know when something is done well. Chef seemed very pleased.

So far, I’m getting along well with myself, but I’ve been on my best behavior, and know that I can be difficult from time to time. I’m expecting a distinct downgrade in my accommodations for the rest of the trip, but hoping that my guide experience will continue to be excellent.

I’m heading into the hinterlands tomorrow, so internet may or may not be available. I’ll do what I can, but if I’m unable to post, try to muddle through without me, or go to the website and read blogs from old trips.

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