On The Pull In Calcutta

Indian trains can be enjoyable, in small portions. 33 hours non ac from Mumbai to Calcutta was anything but. As the chariot passed through the middle of the country, temperatures were souring into the high 40s and at times could be unbearable. You find yourself lying in a pool of sweat, half asleep and half hallucinating because of the sweltering heat whilst trying to ignore the constant barrage of chai men, beggers and hermaphrodites that come along the carriage. It’s times like these that I need reminding that I’m actually doing this for fun! Calcutta is not that much cooler, and it’s understandable how almost 150 Commonwealth soldiers died overnight in the Black Hole incident. Kolkata, as it’s now known, is boiling.

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This is what I felt like on the train

The city is famous for being the old capital of the British Indian empire, it is also well known for having some of the worst traffic in the world. They say if you can drive in Calcutta, you can drive anywhere, a fair point as the traffic here is quite frankly, ridiculous. This is not helped by the fact that at 1pm all the one way streets change direction (bright idea) so commuting at this time can be even more of a headache, if not dangerous. I recommend wearing some kind of ear protection when walking the streets, as the constant sound of horns will almost certainly make your head spin…

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Calcutta ambassador cabs

Eden Gardens is one of the largest cricket stadiums in the world and seats 90 thousand fans. Eden Gardens is to Calcutta, what the Coliseum is to Rome…

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The Victoria memorial hall was built for the most miserable Empress of India. I couldn’t decide whether or not to waste 100 rupees to look inside the museum, until I had a half decent conversation in Hindi with a woman sitting on the steps. This made my mind up and saved me the money, some of the best experiences come for free!

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My new mate

Mother House, is where Mother Teresa lived and spread her message amongst the dying and destitute of Calcutta. Inside can be found her tomb and the story of Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu’s life.

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We done a lot of walking in Calcutta, as it was a lot quicker than getting the bus, and in this clammy weather it brings a whole new meaning to the word chafing, ouch! We stumbled across Collage street, where you will find dozens of tiny stalls packed to the rafters with nothing but books…

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Park street cemetery

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It’s hard work selling books all day

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Calcutta is one of the last places on earth where you will still find a traditional hand pulled rickshaw. I couldn’t come here without giving it a go, and I don’t mean being a passenger…

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Most tourists who come here don’t like to ride on this ancient mode of transport as they feel it is inhumane, so why not give pulling a go to see what all the fuss is about? This particular puller spoke no English, but I managed to explain to him that all he had to do was sit in the rickshaw while I pulled HIM down the street. Obviously he’d never been asked this before and he couldn’t understand why I would want to, but nevertheless he agreed…

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He sat aboard and I proceeded to pull him down the street, to the amazement of some of the locals who couldn’t believe their eyes. After ten minutes I put him down without breaking a sweat and let him return to work. I can’t help but think that as long as this puller lives he will never make an easier 30 rupees…

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My conclusion, is rickshaw pulling inhumane? Is it back breaking labour? From my short spell on the pull, I would say I could easily do this for a living, but then again, I am absolutely brick, nut!

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Categories: India | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “On The Pull In Calcutta

  1. You call Calcutta hot..you want to try here at the moment, it’s a sweltering 14. Now that’s what I call hot! 🙂 Keep enjoying.

  2. Mavis

    Gary you will have to write a book when you get back. Wonderful pictures your camera is working well. These people don’t seem to have any trouble bending knees I wish I could get half way down. Keep enjoying yourself boy life is now.

  3. Stumbled upon your blog when I was researching about Sikkim, and as a Calcutta resident I found it quite funny! Would love to read more, mate! Where ya been for more than 9 months, now?

    • There’s been no blogging for a while as there’s been no travelling! Continue following as the blog will resume very soon, thanks for reading!

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