Hello from Kolkata, dear readers! I am sitting in a cafe off Sudder St., the hub of the backpacker community here. This also means there are plenty of scams/beggars floating around this area. (More on that later. No, I didn’t have money stolen from me or anything like that, but I did way overpay someone for mehndi who claimed the money was going to kids but the money is probably actually going to a crime syndicate. Sigh.)
I have spent the past few days volunteering at Mother Teresa’s motherhouse. I will write a bit more about that later. An American friend, Anne, told me about this opportunity and the two of us stayed together and adventured around Kolkata together for a few days while she was here. Some photos from our adventures:
The Victoria Monument — a beautiful monument finished in 1920 to honor Queen Victoria. It now houses a series of exhibits, one of which includes a very thorough and honest history of Kolkata (i.e., it acknowledges that the British presence in India had some positive consequences as well as the more well-known negative ones).
Below is the beautiful St. Paul’s Cathedral. There is a fairly strong (for India) Christian presence here. I felt kind of peaceful when I went inside. I was like, “Oh, this. I know something about this.” That is, Christianity is more familiar to me than eastern religions, so it felt kind of comforting to be in a church in some ways.
Anne and I went to Kalighat a few days ago, a temple dedicated to Kali, one of the more fearsome looking goddesses (she is always depicted holding a severed head, for example). They apparently ritually behead goats behind the temple, but we missed that. We saw a lot of stalls selling Kali statuettes, flowers, prasad (offerings), and a few with these brilliantly colored powers.
And we love the chai served in tiny earthenware cups here. You do then see them discarded all over the streets, but then again, you also see the disposable paper cups all over the streets, and the earthenware ones biodegrade much faster.