Kolkata (and I suspect India in general) is such a stress-inducing place. Your senses are abused from the moment you step outside. So many different things are happening all at once that it is hard not to swept up in the chaos and lose focus on what you are doing and where you are going. The longer I’m here, the more easily I’m able to block out that part of the chaos that doesn’t concern me. This is a welcome change, as it means I am feeling more comfortable and relaxed. I can walk down the street and know exactly who I need to ignore (mostly people who only want to chat so they can take you to their shop or ask for money outright) and who are after genuine interactions. I walked to Victoria Memorial and paid the 10r to explore the gardens. I had thought the other day that it was closed for most of the day but it turns out it was just that particular entry that was closed. The building is magnificent and in such great condition.

From the memorial, I wandered over to check out St Paul’s Church, before going on a mission to find the South Park Street Cemetery. I had my video camera and tripod out for the walk so I could record street life along the way. I was welcomed into one street stall to film the pouring of chai tea and serving of samosas (both of which I sampled). I’m glad I visited the cemetery. Its walls blocked out the chaos of Kolkata streets and enclosed you in a calm, slightly eerie world of gigantic tombs and gravesites. So many people were in their twenties and thirties at the time of their death.

My day got really enjoyable upon leaving the cemetery and entering back lanes. I felt like I was finally seeing Kolkata. There were no cars to dodge and no hawkers to ignore. Instead, there was just friendly people interested in having a genuine chat. I was encouraged by locals to film little snapshots of Kolkata life, from men playing cards to children chasing chickens. All the while I made my way closer to Mother Theresa’s House. If you ever want to be inspired to do something good for the disadvantaged in this world, then visit this place, or at least learn about the life of St Theresa. The little museum documenting her public life is definitely worth seeing.

I got lost in more back lanes before finally making it back home. I had only expected to be out for half the day but in the end I had spent nearly nine hours walking around. After a long period of inactivity, I finally have my walking legs back! I dumped my bag and camera, then raced back out into the city for dinner. I found a street stall that I think I will return to each night – a generous serving of freshly sautéed food at a very reasonable street food price (AU$0.60).

Day 552 (pic)

Victoria Memorial

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 14,339km