There’s something about the heat that just lifts my mood. I felt it as soon as we stepped off the plane in Kolkata.
It was a difficult morning. We got up early, after not sleeping much due to some very loud 4am praying on a megaphone happening outside. Neena tells me before I arrived, there was a night she and her cousin were woken up in the middle of the night with fireworks that they thought were explosions. Turns out it was some guru’s birthday. Let the celebrations begin!
The airport from Neena’s family’s house in New Dehli is only about 20 miles away, but with traffic, the roads, and things like animals in the streets, it took us about an hour to get there. The ride was especially bumpy, and the ride to the airport was made even more pleasant for all when I got carsick and puked in a plastic bag just before we arrived. (Unfortunatley for Neena and her uncle, I was sitting between them in the backseat.) Her poor uncle who is so sweet, I don’t think he knew what to say when we arrived. Neena assured me as a doctor, she’s seen much worse in terms of bodily fluids.
After checking our bags and some teeth brushing, we were on the plane (Spice Jet! How cool of a name is that?) to visit her cousin Preti, her cousin’s husband and their 5-year-old daughter.
The view from the plan was incredible. We were flying from East to West, coming very close to the Nepal border where we could actually see the Himalayas peeking up from above the clouds!
We arrived in Kolkata early in the morning, to a beautiful, warm day. Her cousin was right there at the airport to greet us with open arms. I love the hospitality, here.
Once at their place, I took my first shower in India. Well, sort of shower. I planned on showering, but you don’t get hot water in the shower so I did a little in the water, out of the water dance. I felt like a new woman after that. It’s amazing what a little shower can do!
Preti cooked up some roti (bread), paneer (cheese) and this other awesome potato dish for lunch. Then, they showed us their roofdeck and courtyard and we were off to explore the city! Here’s Neena and her family — cousin, cousin’s husband Gurmeet and their daughter, Kushi:
Here’s Neena’s cousin, Preti:
Neena and Preti borrow the neighborhood kids’ raquets and have a quick round of badmitten in the yard before we go exploring.
Our first stop, “Science City.”
Science City is tamed-down version of the Franklin Institute crossed with the Epcott Center. They had all kinds of exhibits and some rides. We chose to walk though the evolution exhibit, where we walked through a dim exhibit of dinosaurs (not real). I guess they were trying to make it a little spooky, although the disco music in the last section sort of added more of a club vibe than a scary dinosaur exhibit. Neena commented this space would make a killer haunted house.
As it was starting to get dark, we noticed the dancing fountains at Science City. Notice the Hindi music in the background. Love it! I’ve been hearing this music all over India!
We also saw an IMAX show about fish and coral reefs in the South Pacific. It was pretty awesome, until the power went out. Neena joked that was very “India” of them. After a few minutes the show resumed, but I think they lost power again at the end because the movie ended abruptly. Well, what do you expect for 40 rupees? That’s like 90 cents. Can you Imagine the Franklin Institute charging 90 cents to go see an IMAX movie?
We saw this strange 3D movie in another theater, and I think I remember seeing it somewhere when I was a child. It was vaguely familiar and totally wierd. We rode the cable car back to the parking lot and headed off to the mall.
It was nice to see a modern mall in India! And everything there was so inexpensive! I peeked at the label on some of the clothes — “Made in India.” That was so wierd! I needed some warm clothes, so I picked up a sweatsuit and a Puma sweatshirt from the Puma store, all at bargain prices, which I think was considered kind of expensive.
It was a fun day and I’m beat. Was thinking about going to the Andaman Islands from here for a day or two since it’s only a two hour flight away, but apparently, it’s peak season to go right now so tickets that would usually cost under $300 are now going for over $800. No thank you. I have some beach time planned at the end of this trip anyway, so I’ll just wait until then. I think it was my un-showered self that was longing for some resort comfort. (Yes, I KNOW I just got here! I’m getting soft, okay?)
Tomorrow, we’ll be exploring the city some more. My jet-lag is kicking in, but if I manage to get up at a reasonable hour, I may join Neena and Preti to go see a Bollywood film in the morning, before we do some sightseeing.