Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Weekend in Kolkata

Since my school holds class on Saturday, I decided not to miss 2 days of school to go with the group to Agra.  My school gave me permission, but my own Catholic guilt held me back.  As amazing as it would be to see the Taj Mahal, I think I made the right choice.  This was my first real weekend in the city since I was so sick through the first weekend that I barely left the hotel except to go to work and we spent last weekend in Santiniketan.  Sarah S. stayed behind with me because she will be in India until August 15 and has plans to see the Taj later in her journey.

On Friday night we went out for veggie burgers, fries and beer.  It was my first beer since leaving the States, and I was so glad to have a taste of home.  Sadly we had to remove the lettuce and tomato from our burgers out of fear for our weak stomachs, but it was one of the best meals we have had in India.  Also, there were potatoes in the burger.  America should consider trying this.  After dinner we did a little bit of gift shopping (very little - I need to allot more time for this before the end is here), and then we went to a rooftop cafe, Blue and Beyond, to scope out the city from on high.

On Saturday, Sarah met me at my school after work, and we had one of our regular cab drivers take us to Mother House.  It was really amazing to see where Mother Teresa lived out most of her life.  There was such an air of peace and warmth surrounding the entire place, and it was wonderful to get to be in such a special place.  The only place photography is allowed is by her tomb, but there are websites that show her room and other places in the Loreto house.  We then had an early dinner at Trincas where we had the best Indian dish that we have tasted yet.  It was mushroom and mutter makhani with naan and paratha.  We were in heaven.  Also, there was a sweet band playing!  After a trip to a bookstore, we ventured home and had a drink at the hotel bar.  We had decided on the walk home to have a drink and take a dip in the pool before going to bed early, but while we were at the bar, one of our favorite hotel employees told us that we must come dancing with him and some other staff members.  We told him that we were not sure we felt safe going out alone, but he of course insisted that he was escort us there and back.  He took his duties quite seriously and made us feel perfectly comfortable all night.  We had a good time pretending that we understood how to dance to Hindi music, and I almost jumped out of my skin when they played a few remixed hits from home.  We are definitely going to make the rest of our group go back to the club next weekend.

Today we went to an inter-school music competition.  Sadly, I was so tired from last night that I slept through parts of the classical Indian competition and some of the instrumental contests, but I was wide awake for the Western vocal and Western band contests.  It was heaven!  One band sang "Telephone," and I could barely contain my excitement.  The teacher from Sarah's school who invited us to the event was thrilled with our enthusiasm.  Hopefully she was not offended by my earlier nap.  On our way back, we stopped at my favorite little cafe for a coffee milkshake from my favorite waiter Sam.  We are quite smitten with each other, and I would marry those coffee milkshakes.  Now I am off to the pool to do some school work as soon as my Kindle charges.

All in all, I think that the Agra crew should be jealous of us instead of the other way around, but we are milking the attention that the hotel staff is lavishing on us since we are alone for the weekend.  Durba is sending platters of sweets to our rooms tonight as a way of making up for not seeing the Taj with the others.  I LOVE INDIA!

The music competition!

Our drinks at the hotel bar.

We found the odd pond Janet told us about.  It is behind the Indian museum.

Mother Teresa's tomb.

A man with some random goats on Sudder Street.  These goats have now been there more than 24 hours.  Not sure what is going on.  

Along the road on the way home from work.  

New Market from atop Blue and Beyond.  This is where we do our shopping, and after seeing how giant it is, I don't feel bad about how lost I get in the market. 

Blue and Beyond.

Me with my assistant Principal, Ms. Roy and Kamalika, one of my mentor teachers.  

Mother Teresa's tomb. 

Some flowers that blew off the tomb because of the fans.  There was a sign in her bedroom that despite being directly above the kitchen, she would never accept a fan in her room.  

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