Kolkata (Calcutta) Archives

January 27, 2007

A Stark Contrast

I left the shiny new airport in Bangkok and arrived in Calcutta at the dumpiest airport I've ever seen in a major city. The small international terminal was state of the art . . . for about 1961. No jetway, so we had to deplane out on the tarmac and walk in. Clearing immigration took about two minutes, so the law of averages meant, of course, that I had to wait at least half an hour to get my checked baggage off the barely-functioning carousel. Then it turned out there was no ATM in the international terminal and a hellacious line to change money at the one place still open for business at that hour on a Satuday night. So I hoofed it over to the domestic terminal and found an ATM and booked a taxi to my hotel.

On my way out of the the terminal I was besieged by men wanting to carry my bags and children begging for a handout. The taxi cab itself must have been fifty years old--no joke. And driving into the city I began to wonder if I should head back to the airport and leave this place. All I can say is that Calcutta at night looked like a post-apocalyptic nightmare: what a city might look like in a Mad Max movie. Traffic was chaos; apparently you can do whatever you want on the roads in India so long as you honk your horn repeatedly. Thus I was serenaded by a cacophony of horns throughout the 25-minute trip. The infrastructure of the city appeared to be falling apart. What was once the seat of the British raj seemed to be in shambles. Linguistic difficulties with the driver--who allegedly was speaking English--meant it took us a while to get to the destination, even though I had written down the address for him. My hotel turned out to be an oasis of peace in the center of a strangely disconcerting city.

January 28, 2007

Song Of The Day #28

Here is a great song: "Amie" by Pure Prarie League.

Pure Prairie League - Pure Prairie League: Greatest Hits - Amie

Oh, Calcutta!

I'll concede the hotel here in Calcutta is quite pleasant: great service, Star Sports on the television to keep up with the final weekend of the Aussie Open, decent food. But honestly I feel trapped in my hotel, because there's really not much worth seeing in the neighborhood, other than lots of people looking to separate me from my cash by selling rides or wares, or just by begging.

Second Thoughts On Federer/Roddick

Star Sports is nothing if not thorough in its coverage of the Aussie Open. Most of the major matches have been replayed at least once. The Federer/Roddick semifinal is being aired now in anticipation of the final, to be televised live.

While I was blown away by the magic of Federer when I watched this match live, in hindsight I wonder if Roddick really helped the Swiss player look so good. Andy seemed intent on coming behind some awfully short balls, for one thing. And where was that big serve and the booming putaways I saw in Kooyong two weeks before? Admittedly, Roger was in rare form, but the American didn't do much to get him out of his comfort zone in this match after 4-all in the first set. Roddick got frustrated quickly and didn't seem to be able to switch game plans. It would have been an uphill battle in any case, but maybe Connors can help him flesh out a few more options for the next time they meet.

To The Airport Once More

My ride to the airport is ready, so I have to leave the men's final in Melbourne at 4-all in the first set. Gonzalez has been able to stay with Federer thus far, but Gonzo doesn't look as fearsome as he did in his last few matches and I am sure Federer has another gear (or two) that he can tap when things get tight. We'll see.

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