Boxing Day in India

See previous and next. Date: Boxing Day 2005 Place: Kolkata

For those people in countries which don't have boxing day, it's the 26th December.

After breakfast Monica went to the hotel gym, and I went out for a walk.

South Park St CemetaryI left the hotel and went along Camac St, turning right into Shakespeare Sarani. I passed Kala Mandir and made my way to the South Park St. Cemetary, I wasn't sure if I got to exactly the right place, but in any event it was a nearby cemertary. The place was overgrown and full of character. Walking through the cemetary, left over from the days of the British Raj (which was centred in Kolkata) I saw lots of people going about their business. Carts of masonry were being pushed around, there were people filming, and a whole bunch of friendly kids (not asking for money!) who I exchanged some Bengali/Bangla বাংলা with. I think they were amazed to find a european who even had a few words (and that's all I've got!)

The language skills on display were at the level of - "আমার নাম মারক" (Amar Nam Mark - my name is Mark). I also asked their names, and smiled a lot.

As I carried on, I met a family coming the othr way. They warned me not to go any further into the cemetary as it backed onto a slum area, and there were cases of people being robbed at the rear of the cemetary. I was about to turn around anyway, so I walked with them to the exit.

Victoria Memorial, KolkataWe went to the flat in the afternoon, and had a fish curry for lunch. In the evening we went out with Anupam and Barnali and ended up at the Victoria memorial. It looked nice afer dark, but we could not go in. Opposite the memorial in the park area were some fountains running through a light display. Our evening tea was from a cart, we ate something called Bhel Puri, I don't know what it actually was - but it was very nice. It seemed to be puffed rice with some stringy bits and a sauce.

We made our way next to a place called New Market. it's a leftover from the days of the Raj, and is quite mazelike. There are official porters, you tell them what you're after and they guide you through the maze. Before heading there, Anupam said we were to buy something for me. I was against getting something purely for the sake of it, but they could not be dissuaded, but I did agree to getting something distinctly Indian, and something I would use. I wasn't going to get a shirt that I could just as easily get in the UK.

New Market, KolkataWe got hold of some Darjeeling tea and a few other trinkets, and found a sweater for me, but could not get the size right. In one place an American gentleman had overheard us speaking and he came up to me to ask where I was from. When I said the UK his response was the 'he knew it was in that kind of area, but couldn't place if it was Sweden or Norway'. How sweet.

He announced that he was American. I replied that I knew - Americans were usually easy to spot. He found this amusing.

A Kolkata taxi jamAs this picture shows, traffic in Indian cities can be busy!