Sunday, June 19, 2011

Week 12

Mon. June 18    Aurangabad to Durgapur
Miles 229
Had to produce the spanners to get the girls going. Got on the road by 9 and motored towards Calcutta. Stopped at about 12 to make a brew and find out why the girls were only running on 3 cylinders. Climbed over a low range of hills and dropped down the far side into the “Lancashire” of India. Heavy industry, opencast coal mines and literally thousands of people—sordid. It also rained a bit this afternoon. Stopped in the aptly named town of Asansol and did some shopping. Drove off again and stopped at the first dak bungalow. No electricity but a beautiful situation so we stayed. Had an outdoor bath by the well.
Weather - hot, dull and sticky

Tues. June19    Durgapur to Calcutta
Miles 151
After a mosquito-ridden night, we set off on the final stage of our overland journey.  A boring and uneventful journey took us via Hooghly and Howrah into Calcutta.
The outskirts of this place constitutes the biggest, dirtiest slum that any of us has ever clapped eyes on. There is an incredible number of sacred cows wandering the streets.
Found the Y.M. and got ourselves fixed up, with the help of our letter of introduction, with a room to ourselves - all food included, R6 per day. The girls are fixed up at the Y.W so we went down to see them. Their place is a bit more palatial than ours but the food is not as good. After dinner I went out for a walk on my own - very colourful
Figure 3.19: Calcutta docks
So far the trip has taken us 11 weeks, we have done 11,000 miles, and it has cost us 52 pound 10 shillings each. We would have spent that much sitting on our bums at home.
Weather hot, sticky and monsoonal.

Wed. June 20    Calcutta
Spent most of the morning chasing around looking for the G.P.O., customs house, A.A. office etc. Found the Calcutta Swimming Club and, after a lot of wheedling, got ourselves in as president’s guests.
It is a beautiful place with twin pools, one indoor and one outdoors, the latter set in magnificent and well-kept gardens, and equipped with all facilities.
Had lunch there but that will have to stop! Swam and lazed until 7.30, wonderful. 
Figure 3.20: Calcutta swimming club
John and Dulcie followed up our contact in the British India Shipping co. and we can ship out of Calcutta on July 1 to Singapore via Chittagong, Rangoon, and Penang.
This will be quite expensive but it may be the only way out. Nothing goes direct to Australia from India.
Went back to the Y.M. for a feed and then looked up the girls. Sally has turned up and they are sorting things out. Calcutta is a very colourful city
Weather - hot and sticky.

Figure 3.21: Sally, Calcutta

Thurs. June 21    Calcutta
Spent the morning going from shipping office to shipping office and eventually confirmed a booking on the M.V.Santhia, sailing on July 1.
This is costing us a hell of a  lot more than we bargained for, but there is no alternative.
Back to the Y.M. for lunch and then down to the swimming club. Managed to talk our way in but it looks as if this may be the end of the line. 
Figure 3.22: Calcutta swimming club
After swimming, we went to have tea with Mr and Mrs Talukdar, a very pleasant couple to whom we had an introduction from Dr Sarkar in Agra.
Back to the Y.M.and then a walk around town. Located the Temple Bar and, after a long search, Isaiah’s. The latter is typical of cheap nightclubs the whole world over.
Weather - hot and rainy.

Fri. June 22    Calcutta
The morning passed in what is becoming the usual fashion with trips to the bank, then to the shipping offices, and back again.
We have been left in no doubt that if certain palms were to be crossed with silver, all our difficulties would just melt away. However; we have plenty of time and not much silver so they can get stuffed!
After lunch, Dereck and I wandered around the market and bazaar area, and found the money changer with the best rate.
Tried the museum but it was closed. Went to see the Guns of Navarrone in the evening.
Spent a very interesting hour watching the silver and goldsmiths at work in their little shops.
Weather - overcast.

Sat. June 23    Calcutta
Spent the morning in the zoological gardens, very nice but old fashioned and formal.
After lunch, went to the swimming club and talked our way in yet again without too much difficulty and managed to fix myself up with one Valerie Palmer.
Back to the Y.M. and then to the Great Eastern Hotel. As I was half an hour late I missed out on Valerie. You would have thought she could have waited!!
Went for a walk around Chinatown and found some very seedy places, like the Nanking and Hong Kong bars. Just as I was making my way back, I met two Anglo-Indian guys called Noel and Albert. They were both quite drunk and they dragged me off to a party. It was very good, too! One of the girls was flying to London the next day. This was her farewell. I met some charming people and made a date with one of them to see Psycho on Tues. Her name was Leslie.
Staggered back to the Y.M. at about 1 A.M.
Weather – hot.

Sun. June 24    Calcutta
Passed a leisurely morning reading and doing dhobi.
At 12.30 we went upstairs to have lunch with Mr and Mrs Mukerjie, and Mr Ford, the managers of the Y.M..
After a most enjoyable lunch we addressed the debating forum of the Y.M.C.A. on the subject of our trip. They then asked us quite a lot of questions and a lively debate ensued.
At 4 pm. we adjourned to Trinca’s, a local jazz club. Back for dinner, then out for a stroll down Chowringhee in the early evening.
Weather - hot and close.

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