Thursday evening. I am ostensibly finished at Sabuj Sangha, albeit a visit to the Sunderbans tomorrow awaits me.
I find myself reflecting on the many faces of Kolkata:
- echoes of a Bohemian past in the Fairlawn Hotel and the incomparable 91 year old Miss Violet (who tried to seduce me to become her toy boy)
- the extraordinary grandeur of the Victoria Memorial and the 17 mile train that would have been required to bring the materials required to build it
- the vastness of the megacity that is Kolkata: squadrons of taxis, teeming people that defy description, modern office blocks and decrepitude beyond description
- the shocking contrasts of brand new Mercedes 500s and poverty on a scale I have never witnessed before
- pollution that destroys lungs (especially in taxi drivers it seems, given their hawking and spitting)
- the cocoon of pampered plushness that is the Oberoi Grand - an oasis right in the centre of the city that tricks you into thinking 5 star treatment is absolutely ordinary
- the extraordinary kindness and good works of Sister Cyril, Sabuj Sangha and so many more to look after those who have nothing:Rainbow kids, brickfields migrants, red light outcasts and more
- the inexplicable bureaucracy that requires a computer produced order in triplicate (with good old fashioned carbon paper in between) for a bar of Bournville (oh, and complete separation of duties (auditors, all, rejoice!) between recording the order and later taking payment - God protect us!)
This IS reality. This is NOW. And shall be long after I am back in the comforting bosom of my family in Dublin.
How strange a world.
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