Calcutta at the corners
Our journey is taking shape alone. The destinations are presented, leading the way and we just nodded. So step with Calcutta. It was not in our plans. Several people had been recommended Why not give it a place?
We leave Bodh Gaya a hot night. We were rare, we were anxious, worried, tired and not knowing what to expect us. Our rarity mingled with nostalgia. After two months of traveling together we said goodbye to Agnes and Alfonso, Argentina couple we met Ludmila’s birthday.
Strangers arrived at the train station of Gaya. We got on the train and looked for our seats. They were occupied by a family. It is very common in India meet your occupied seat. Many people travel without tickets and rotate between the seats there are free. This was not the case, the family tells us that those were their seats. Indeed, we look at our train ticket and we had mistaken the date. Our train left the next night. To all this the train had already started bound for Calcutta.
Amid the concern not to travel all night in the corridor, he appeared solidarity and friendly people. A young Indian man took talking to the officer asks tickets and explain our situation in Hindi. After several failed attempts to charge a penalty assigned us some seats. We arrived at Calcutta confused.
Everything seemed difficult in Calcutta, to get accommodation. We spent a whole morning watching accommodation, we decided that all seemed less dirty. Once we settled we went out to explore the city.
Calcutta (or Kolkata, its current name) was presented to us as chaos. large and grimy city. It was the place where most feel they want to take advantage of tourists. He also was the first place we feel excluded by not having euros or dollars. In the different local we stopped cater to devote full attention to Europeans. On the way we passed many (many) Spaniards who came to Calcutta to participate in some volunteer work. And we saw paying exorbitant prices. It’s true, for them is still very cheap, and we are on plan to haggle as much as possible.
We also walked as ever. We missed out on the streets several times. We visited all the districts of the city. Some poorer, more touristy, richer and more colonial. We also showed up (unwillingly) in the middle of a Muslim neighborhood. Where we saw, after a long time, beef in the “butchery”. Which should bring many problems with Hindus.
Apart from walking we moved a lot in subway and tram (yes, the city has tram). Calcutta is for that, to get lost and be walked. To visit its neighborhoods and learn about their differences. All this, without neglecting the religious part of India. Here we have our experiences:
We visit the temple dedicated to the goddess Kali (Kalighat Temple). Goddess of destruction suffered by the steps of time. Kali is black, tall and has a necklace of skulls. Commands respect despite having his tongue out.
Before reaching the temple you have to walk a few blocks from markets where they sell all kinds of flowers, prayer cards, gemstones and incense. All offerings to the goddess. On the way you breathe and energy, you do not need to feel it enter. But also we entered.
We saw a long line of people patiently waiting their turn to be in front of the statue. We got in line. Advancing step slow and the place was closed. heat and burn incense felt unbearably. Even overcrowding. The Indians have another concept of distance, and a line that tries to be ordered are put next to each other, touching his chest with his back. This whole situation not only increased fatigue and perspiration.
Arriving later we see that almost everyone makes a small donation to the priest. This blessed and painted their foreheads with red color. We grabbed 10 rupees and have on hand to keep pace with the celebration. Once the person ahead had happened, the priest sees us and starts screaming almost desperate: “Moneeeeeey, moneeeeey”. The first feeling was of rejection. Likewise we advance, giving 10 rupees. The grabs, keep them, and says that is not enough, we have to give 200 rupees. We refused. That caused us clearance, made us move in line barely able to stand before the statue.
The last day before leaving town we went to visit the place where Mother Teresa lived. The place is still active, living and working there several sisters more. We arrived at the place knowing little or nothing, except that you could do volunteer and we listen to the experience of many who had already been there.
We reached the place on a Sunday at 3 pm, where the heat of Calcutta was at its peak. We arrived after a 20 minute walk from the hotel. At the door we were greeted three very smiling and friendly nuns. We were invited to spend.
Selfless love, compassion, respect, desprejuiciarse, so many things this trip shows us and teaches. We think of charity, having hurt, in giving money. That is or is not being a good person. We think of ourselves, we want, when we want. We think about how to transform the reality around us. Actually it hurts, it hurts, but it also embraces us and hosts. We think. In Calcutta, we thought.
And we realized that love and compassion await at every corner, whether of Calcutta, is the world.