Thursday, July 18, 2013

My day as a tourist

Since I don't work on Thursdays, I decided to spend the day being a tourist.  I visited the Victoria Memorial, The South Park Cemetery, and the Indian Museum.  Since Sarah M. also had the day off, she decided to join me.  

The Victoria Memorial strikes me as a bit odd.  In the middle of a bustling city where there is no room for anything, there is this VAST green space to celebrate...oppression?  It is just surreal how meticulously this symbol of British rule is maintained.  Unfortunately they do not allow photography inside because the architecture is amazing.  Also, funny fact, foriegners pay 150rs. for entry, but it is only 10rs. for citizens (same pricing for the Indian museum).  

The South Park Cemetery was surreal.  I didn't take many photos because a sign said "Photography Restricted."  We decided that restricted was different from prohibited, but I wanted to place some restrictions on myself.  Plus, we made an extra donation for the maintenance crew.  The cemetery opened in 1767 and the last tombs are dated 1830.  It was a cemetery for British settlers, and a disturbing amount are for young women, infants, and small children.  It is very clear that Kolkata was not a hospitable environment.  What I found most striking was the juxtaposition of life and death.  The cemetery was alive with gorgeous vegetation and wildlife, but the reminders of the brevity of life were everywhere.  Despite the restoration efforts, it is also clear that nothing lasts forever.  The corners of tombs are crumbling, and there is no way to stop the way time erases what was once important.  The entire scene reminded me of the poem "Ozymandias" by Shelly. 

The Indian Museum is under construction, so about half of the exhibits were closed.  Most of what was open was about different animals and some sculptures that had been dug up long ago.  There was also an Egyptian mummy which is apparently the highlight of an Indian museum.  I left my camera in my checked bag, but I will post some pictures once the Sarahs send me theirs.  I was mostly thrilled by watching the construction efforts.  The men were hanging off scaffolding without shoes or helmets or harnesses.  This would not fly in the U.S.  I also spent a large portion of the time posing like various statues, lampposts, etc.  This entertains my friends endlessly.  

The Victoria Memorial from the front gate.

This is one of 2 lions that frame the front gate of the Victoria Memorial.  It is odd how many lions exist throughout the city as a stamp of British ownership.

The front gate.

Sarah and I asked a man to take our picture, but he wanted his family to be in it too.

The Victoria Memorial x2. 

Apparently, it is common for young couples to sneak away to public places to make-out since they cannot do this near their parents.  Rumor has it that the Botanical Gardens become the hotspot on Mondays when the V. Memorial is closed.

This bold couple made out in front of a statue.  I wonder what this nameless Brit would think of that.  

More canoodlers.  I was being a total creep.

The backside of the memorial with the statue of Edward.

My bench break.

Edward from Victoria's perspective.

St. Paul's Cathedral is visible from the left side of the Memorial.

The reflection in a different pond.

The statue of the man Victoria put in charge.  I forget his name.

I just liked this fence and some sort of wheel.  I don't understand its importance.
Proof that Packers fans are everywhere.  I thought Meggie would like this.

For some reason I started posing for pics in the Katie Brunner style. 

Sarah and I finally managed to get a photo alone in front of Victoria.  Everyone who took photos of us also made us pose with them.  This is an odd thing to me as I think that they should realize that I am not a celebrity.

A shot of the cemetery.

Sarah in the cemetery.

A bike of one of the maintenance men at the cemetery.  For some reason, I was in love with this bike.

Along the front edge of the cemetery there are huts where people live.  I loved the laundry hanging outside the home in the cemetery walls.  Signs of life and progress were everywhere.

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