Friday, October 13, 2006

Kolkata Morning News

Its 9am on Friday morning, Abi is halfway to Singapore and it’s another hot and steamy day in Kolkata. In a couple of hours I might just catch a glimpse of Abi’s plane as she flies overhead. It seems strange to think that yesterday she was 4 ½ hours behind me and tomorrow she will be 4 ½ hours ahead of me.

I’ve been here a week and I’m starting to get over the culture shock I experienced on arrival. India is difficult to get to grips with when you come from an organised Western society. The traffic seems chaotic, most buildings would be condemned in the UK and the poverty is appalling. Just this morning I saw four guys riding on a small motorcycle and another guy washing himself in a puddle at the side of the road. We refer to our hotel as the ‘Oasis’. It’s like a small, tranquil haven in the middle of the cesspool they call Kolkata. Sorry to sound a little harsh but that’s how I feel.

I don’t think I’m working this weekend so my colleague and I are trying to see what we can do this weekend. Apparently a tour of the city, stopping off at the major sights, will take a couple of hours. There isn’t a great deal to see, have a look at Wikipedia’s entry on Kolkata for the highlights. Other than that I plan to spend some time by the pool reading and then preparing for next week. I might just head down to the bar at some point and have a few cold Kingfishers!!!!

I’d like to thank everyone who contacted me about my blog. Long may it continue!!!! Right, I must get on, more UK jobs to outsource and lots of eager Indians to train.

Be well :-)


Herb said...

Glad you sound a bit more positive.
We wait to hear from Abi when she arrives safely.
Hope the weekend goes well and you manage to 'enjoy' the sites. Do bear in mind that alcohol kills most known germs - Doctors always swab your arms with it before injections!Just heard from A - all okay in Singapore.11.02 our time

Pot Stirrer said...

And so the phoenix rises from the pit of ashes and despair to soar to new heights...Happy to see the Blog goes on.

I have been thinking about the various references you've made to "Western" ways and culture. It strikes me that there may just be a little bit of misunderstanding here on two fronts. As I understand it the dominant religion within India is Hinduism which has as one of its pillars the concept of reincarnation. I have also been told that while many people in India suffer from a less than adequate health care system, you rarely find people complaining about their ailments or ills. It seems this fervent belief in reincarnation sustains them during their day to day life by providing them with a sense of ambivalence to their current situation. They toil safe in the knowledge that they will suffer only during THIS life and not the next. While this does not reduce the need they have for security, food, shelter and a basic standard of health care, it explains their nonchalant attitude to any "westerner" who would shake their head in dismay at their standard of living. Their way of life is different to be sure but disregarding material wealth and comforts, is it any worse than ours?

The second point I'd like to make is that we, westerners, seem to take solace in our status as westerners without ever really reflecting on the terrible situations that we either suffer from or inflict on others. What does it mean to be a westerner these days given the term can no longer simply refer to your geographical location? Is it based on money, material goods, soft beds and a set top box? Is it possible that we have all the same issues that the non-western countries have yet they remain hidden, obscured or just plain covered up by the state, the day to day struggle for material wealth or even our own desire to believe we are better off than “they” are? I like sleeping in clean sheets and eating good food as much as the next person but is that because I’m more advanced or because I’ve been conditioned to not settle for anything less?

Great Blog and nice pictures. Keep up the interesting insights.