allraysworld

07 May 2018 70 views
 
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photoblog image A few hours in Kolkata Part A  #01

A few hours in Kolkata Part A #01

Back in 2012, friend Tim and I made our first trip together. We were thrown together by the circumstance of a failed Tour that Tim was involved in planning with a couple of friends. Tim and I had become friends through working on opposite sides of the table on a Consulting contract at one of Thailand's banks. When this traveling opportunity came up we decided to take the risk of traveling together based on some mutual respect gained from broad discussions during many Bangkok street food excursions at lunch breaks from our work.

 

So the broad idea was to fly to Kolkata, make a connection to Bagdogra, meet a Guide with a car&driver, spend about 8 days traveling around the Far NE of India, especially in the little known region of Sikkim [an independent Kingdom like Bhutan, until annexed into the British Empire around 1890], then return home via Kolkata. Flight connection complexities offered us a few free hours in Kolkata at the start and finish of the Tour...this series deals with the first of those Kolkata windows.

 

0600 Kolkata...we have had a couple of hours of sleep in a strange little hotel, and are up early so that we can execute a lightning tour of this vast city before our lunchtime flight to places North. Here is Tim offering an introductory Map-reading Course to the hotel's security staff and bellhop, and to the Ambassador taxi driver we have dragged into our orbit. After some hilarious missteps, we engage the taxi driver to take us to the airport via a scenic route that will take about 5 hours instead of the normal 45 minutes.

 

Why don't you tuck into a hearty breakfast and then join us...

A few hours in Kolkata Part A #01

Back in 2012, friend Tim and I made our first trip together. We were thrown together by the circumstance of a failed Tour that Tim was involved in planning with a couple of friends. Tim and I had become friends through working on opposite sides of the table on a Consulting contract at one of Thailand's banks. When this traveling opportunity came up we decided to take the risk of traveling together based on some mutual respect gained from broad discussions during many Bangkok street food excursions at lunch breaks from our work.

 

So the broad idea was to fly to Kolkata, make a connection to Bagdogra, meet a Guide with a car&driver, spend about 8 days traveling around the Far NE of India, especially in the little known region of Sikkim [an independent Kingdom like Bhutan, until annexed into the British Empire around 1890], then return home via Kolkata. Flight connection complexities offered us a few free hours in Kolkata at the start and finish of the Tour...this series deals with the first of those Kolkata windows.

 

0600 Kolkata...we have had a couple of hours of sleep in a strange little hotel, and are up early so that we can execute a lightning tour of this vast city before our lunchtime flight to places North. Here is Tim offering an introductory Map-reading Course to the hotel's security staff and bellhop, and to the Ambassador taxi driver we have dragged into our orbit. After some hilarious missteps, we engage the taxi driver to take us to the airport via a scenic route that will take about 5 hours instead of the normal 45 minutes.

 

Why don't you tuck into a hearty breakfast and then join us...

comments (14)

What a trip!! On my time zone - I've just finished a hearty dinner, is that OK?
Ray: Dinner is fine, Elizabeth...we are not stopping to eat as we have only 5 hours to introduce ourselves to Kolkata.
Jolie scène, il cherche son chemin.
Ray: C'était très marrant, Martine. Tim essayait de montrer au chauffeur de taxi où nous voulions aller à Kolkata, sur la carte, et il est devenu évident que le chauffeur n'avait aucune expérience avec les cartes.

It was very funny, Martine. Tim was trying to show the taxi driver where we wished to go in Kolkata, on the map, and it became evident the driver had no experience with maps.
Aha. The plans of mice and men, Ray? Let's go....
Ray: I can promise you a fast&furious romp through a great city, Ginnie.
  • Lisl
  • England
  • 7 May 2018, 05:40
Presumably, the taxi-driver couldn't quite understand that you didn't want to get to the airport the shortest way? Presumably having a holiday with a little-known person worked out well?
Ray: He eventually got the gist of it, Lisl, but it was quite an effort to get the communication link working.

A first trip with a friend, like this, is an opportunity to have a miserable time at the same time as straining a friendship...Tim and I found that we travel together brilliantly, and this trip is the start of our long-running Fab4 Tours events.
  • Astrid
  • Netherlands
  • 7 May 2018, 06:12
This is just hilarious to find somebody who cannot read maps, don't tell me he memorised all streets in Kolkata.
Okay I am having ontbijt, get in and les't go...
Ray: Eventually, when we got a communication channel working, Astrid, we found the driver knew his city extremely well.

Many [perhaps most] folks in Asia do not have any experience with maps.
  • Chris
  • Not Nowhere
  • 7 May 2018, 07:26
Very entertaining, I look forward to travelling with you. Everybody looks confused, except the taxi driver who is calculating by how much he can rip you off. And I really do like the adverts for "full body massage" on the lamp posts, they add atmosphere..
Ray: My feeling is the taxi driver had dashed past the "Where do you want to go?" and was focused on the "How much are you sucker enough to pay me?", Chris. Tim and I are experienced hands at negotiating taxi fares, as 80% of taxi operators and 100% of tuk tuk operators in Thailand are on the game.

I have a feeling the Full Body Massage venue might have been within our strange hotel.
  • Alan
  • Great Britain (UK)
  • 7 May 2018, 07:54
5hrs by taxi is probably about normal from the centre of London to Heathrow airport; a trip that on paper should only take 45 minutes smile I'll get a shower first, then have breakfast and I'm ready to join you; I'll bring cake.
Ray: Great! Cake is a thoughtful, practical idea, as we can stuff that in as we go.
  • gutteridge
  • Somewhere in deep space
  • 7 May 2018, 07:57
I like this photograph and am excited about this next adventure. You could write travel books like Paul Theroux. The chap nearest the camera is happy to pose for the photograph and let the others work out where to go. Good stuff Ray.
Ray: This "negotiation" at roadside on the first morning of our Tour was a wonderful start, Chad, and I remained in a good mood for the whole of the trip.
The chap on the right appears to be attempting to distance himself from the whole affair Ray
Ray: He is the bellhop from the hotel, Bill, and has concluded there is no way he can get any pocket money out of this transaction.
I so much enjoy theswe trips with you and your friends Ray, this one of course is very much of your personal history as well.
Ray: Thank you, Brian.

Welcome aboard...I think you will enjoy the next 5 hours. smile
  • Louis
  • South Africa
  • 7 May 2018, 12:15
The streets belong to the early morning travellers. For a fare like that, the driver was probably very enthusiastic.
Ray: The driver could barely contain his glee at such early morning good fortune, Louis...even when we beat his asking price down by 50%...clearly his opening bid was a bit fanciful.

As you will see tomorrow, everything changes quickly.
I imagine that the taxi driver is still dining out on that trip smile
Ray: We negotiated him down to 50% of his initial bid, Tom. He still seemed very pleased with the deal, so I expect that means we should have cut a little bit deeper. No matter...it was not an expensive ride for us, and win:win is a desirable outcome.
I've had no rest since the last trip! I will go though..
Ray: Good...we must keep up, Mary. smile
ah yes, i am going to enjoy this, Ray.
Ray: Thank you, Ayush.

Perhaps you can correct any glaring errors in my narratives, too.

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