Saturday, January 29, 2011

Turn That Frown Upside Down.

Before I left for India, I asked a lot of people that had been here to give me some advice and testimonial about their experience. Most of those people had only been to Calcutta so I knew their opinions only related to a tiny portion of India, which I knew would be the last stop.

For the last 20 days I have had a blissful experience in India. I have spent my time on the beach, in tourist towns, have had my own bathroom, and sometimes even a hot shower. Although my accommodations are below Western Standards, I have been very fortunate to stay in bug free, well maintained guesthouses that have exceeded my expectations.

When Danny and I got here on the 25th, we were coming in from Bangalore, the most modern city in India. During our long cab ride from the airport to Sudder St. I had a range of thoughts going through my head. All I could think about was the raving reviews from everyone who had been here, yet all I could see was a dirty, poverty stricken city.

Communication has been key on this trip. So i turned to Danny and said I'm kind of having a little freak out. He assured me that I had the best tour guide in town and it would be fine. We get dropped off on Sudder Street and ventured off to find some where to stay. (For those of you at home that have been here i'll use the names of the places he brought me to. Hopefully you can picture it and it brings a smile to your face) We headed first to Maria hotel. The man Danny had become friendly with when he stayed there last year was not there when we arrived. We were shown a damp, moldy room with no bathroom for 200 rupees. Dan asked if this was ok and I just stared at him. Bits of rage went through me. All I could think was I told you I was freaking out and you bring me here!! We said no thank you and asked if there were any other rooms by chance. With a shake of the head, we smiled and headed for the door.

As soon as we were away from ear shot I was like Dan, really. (I dont know why I waited to say anything because no one understands us anyways!) Dan explained that he had a great room on the roof top last year and had high hopes of another great experience.  He could see the disappointment on my face so he brought me to the lovely Astoria hotel. I know I'm a little on the spoiled side, but as soon as I saw these rooms I knew they were above our standards. We said no the the 1300 rupee rooms and headed out to try and find something in the middle. Third times a charm. We headed to the Center Point Guest House, (home of the famous Sabine) and found a perfect room to call home for the next week.  Crisis solved.

We've been touring the city day after day. Seeing sights, markets, meeting with the tailor etc. We're treating ourselves to some tailor made clothes!

Yesterday I had the best laugh I've had in a long time. We spent the day at the Victoria Memorial. We brought books and a deck of cards and set up shop on a park bench. Everyday I have people staring at me. Danny gets it to, but not in the same manner as me. Usual I smile back to acknowledge the fact I know that they are staring at me. Everywhere, except Calcutta, they smile back and feel awkward. In Calcutta, they just keep starting usually expressionless. So yesterday, we happened to have high schoolers as our park bench neighbors.  I was engrossed in my book and didnt realize what was happening until Danny gave me a little nudge. I looked up and there were people stopped and staring (and i mean staring) The teenagers next to us were "necking" as you old timers would call it. In America, we'd just glance and smirk and go on with our day. In India, it's not that simple. People were disgusted. I started cracking up. I couldnt contain myself. I told Dan we should hire them to walk near us everyday and make-out so everyone's attention is directed at them and not us. After 20 minutes, the two came up for air and were red in the face when they realized all the stares they had brought upon themselves.

After 5 days here, I'm starting to see what everyone was raving about. I'm not quite sure how to put it into words just yet, but Calcutta puts a warm feeling in my heart. I hope you are all great at home. Love from India.

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