whoah! calcutta


Well well well… what a strange morning.

Firstly, Christophe dazzled the local congregation with a couple of hymns on the guitar in Mass this morning. (Yes – strange indeed. I never knew he knew ‘Kum Ba Yah’… But more on this unusual ‘Peter, Paul and Mary’ musical appearance later.)


We then ended up in an ‘Italian Job’-style car-chase through the streets of Kolkata after our taxi-driver ran into the wrong vehicle (perhaps not the Indian mafia, though it did look as though they might have been on their way to a wedding). Rather than bother about with all those tiresome formalities usually associated with a bit of a traffic infringement, our driver instead decided to streamline things and immediately hit the accelerator – clearly, the best course of action was to do a runner. (There’s nothing like a U-turn in front of 8 lanes of erratic Indian traffic, the squeal of tyres and the disturbing scent of burning rubber to make a spectacularly indiscreet exit from the scene of a crime.)In fact, I think our driver might have been more than a little inspired by Sandra Bullock’s turn in ‘Speed’, for once he decided to make a quick get-away nothing would stand in his way – not even the seemingly impassable mass of large inanimate objects like several packed-to-capacity, heaving buses all lined up at a red traffic light up ahead.

Not to be deterred, he miraculously wove his way through the morass, executed a precision turn (with the butchered Suzuki now in hot pursuit), and an alarming twisting race through the back alleys of the city ensued. We finally managed to give them the slip on Mahatma Gandhi Avenue after about 40 rupees had elapsed on the meter. (Yes, the meter was still running – perhaps he was trying to pass it off as a scenic tour of the city… Ingenious!)

kol-on-the-march.jpg Finally – to finish off, we found ourselves in the midst of a massive Communist Party rally that coincided with West Bengal’s annual Party Convention and seemed to stop the city in its tracks. Thousands of people had joined the parade though the streets – a sea of red hammer-and-sickle flags riding above them. An influx of hundreds of trucks and buses full of roaring, waving people joined the hordes of marchers heading south towards the site of the Convention. As it turned out, they were heading our way (…or perhaps we were heading theirs…)

Seeing us moving along with the throng of people, an excited fellow came up and shook our hand – a wide grin on his face. He seemed exceptionally pleased to see us. He thought we were joining the cause.

Actually, we were just trying to find our way home after a rather eventful morning. We marched with the ‘comrades’ for another half-block, and then took a left-turn – our excitement over for the morning – ready for lunch and eager to see what the afternoon could throw at us…!

3 Responses to “whoah! calcutta”

  1. 1 Phil Jackson and family Posted January 23rd, 2008 - 16:03

    Thank you for the lovely gifts.I love the bag Kate.We have all been following your travels.Breathtaking and hair raising at times.We are so glad you survived Kolcuta-your taxi ride was quite an adventure.I’m glad you’ve come to terms with queing in India-I couldn’t imagine you with elbows extended jostling your way to the front Kate,a great story.I look forward to more tales of adventure and those beautiful photos.Safe journeying
    Love from Deirdre

  2. 2 WALTER Posted February 13th, 2008 - 23:20


    Je passais sur votre site pour prendre de vos nouvelles et vous remercier d’avoir posé mon site et mon blog dans vos liens. J’apprécie beaucoup.

    Mais je vous écris maintenant surtout, car je me suis attardé entre photos, commentaires… Je suis admiratif devant la beauté de votre blog et de vos photos!Simplement impresionné. Quel professionalisme allié à une bonne dose d’art graphite. Jaloux aussi.
    Quel beau voyage. Après nos différentes rencontres en Inde, je me disais “quels gentils glandeurs, ce petit couple*”… Je vois qu’il y a autre chose dernière vos airs de jeunes youpies-hippies en route.
    (*): étant moi-même un grand paresseux de voyage, prenez cette réflexion spontanée comme une accolade de camarade.

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