Monday, June 20, 2011

Week 13 - end of part 3

Mon. June 25    Calcutta
Went to the bank in the morning. Our money had arrived so, after a lot of formalities, we cashed it.
After lunch we went to the swimming club and got ourselves signed in without too much trouble.
Halfway through the afternoon it started raining with a vengeance. For the first time we were out of the water before dark. Spent the evening at the Y.M. writing letters
Weather - warm and wet.

Tues. June 26    Calcutta
Went to the shipping office and paid for our tickets. From there we went 'home' for lunch.
Lay around after lunch and I eventually drifted out. Walked around the market, then the museum and met Jackie, Dulcie and Dereck.
Had a snack and then went to meet Leslie. Took her to see Psycho and she found it rather scary. Afterwards we had a meal at the Kwality restaurant and I took her home in a taxi. Later found John and Dulcie in the Mogambo Club, from there we repaired to Isaiah’s. We saw Dulcie home and then went for a meal.
Weather - hot and humid.

Wed. June 27    Calcutta
Spent the morning shuttling between the shipping office and The A.A.
After lunch managed to get into the swimming club. We are becoming quite expert at this!
Met a lad from Wallasey off the M.V.Rosebank.. He invited us back to the ship for a look around this evening.
Left the pool about 6.30 and set out for the wharf where we found the wrong jetty and had to pay to get out to the ship.
Once on board we had a couple of beers and a conducted tour of the engine room. We left the ship at 11.30 and went for a snack at the Lahore. And so to bed - a very pleasant evening
Weather - hot and sticky.

Thurs. June 28    Calcutta
Spent the morning at the botanical gardens and found the great Banyan tree, 200yrs old and with so many roots that you can’t tell one from t’other.
Back to the pool after lunch at the Y.M and gained entry with little difficulty, and immediately became involved in a rum and coke drinking competition with Les and Doug, 5th engineer and Chief electrician off the Rosebank. We had a very enjoyable afternoon.
Back to the Y.M. and then took Dulcie to see 'The Big Country' after tea. After the pictures went for a walk down Chowringhee. Saw an owl, Dulcie got very excited.
Weather – hot a.m.., overcast p.m.
Fri. June 29    Calcutta
Went to the shipping office to make final payments and then straight to the pool for a swim.
Had a gorgeous steak lunch with an American guy called Marty. Spent the afternoon loafing, and then went back to the club in the evening for the social and dance. A very enjoyable evening was had by all.
We have scored a visit to a jute-mill tomorrow afternoon and another evening of drunken merriment on the Rosebank to follow.
Weather - fine morning and wet afternoon.

Sat. June 30    Calcutta
Met Leslie at the market and took a taxi out to visit a Jain temple, which turned out to be a really beautiful building.
From there we went back to Chowringhee and thence to the Victoria Museum. It was very hot.
Leslie gave me a silver 'laughing Buddha'; a Bengali good luck charm, and we said goodbye.

Sat. June 30    Calcutta
Met Leslie at the market and took a taxi out to visit a Jain temple, which turned out to be a really beautiful building. From there we went back to Chowringhee and thence to the Victoria Museum. It was very hot. Leslie gave me a silver “laughing Buddha”-a Bengali good luck charm-and we said goodbye. 
Figure 3.23: Leslie at Jain temple
Met Johnnie Davis after lunch and he took us out to Jardine’s Jute Mill. After showing us round the mill, he introduced us to the swimming pool and gave us an excellent meal before dropping us off at the docks.
We went aboard the Rosebank but nobody else was there, so we had it to ourselves. Went back ashore. On the way had an argument with the boatman - we won. And so to bed.
John took the land rover to the docks this morning. It was like saying goodbye to an old friend
Weather - hot and sultry.

Sun. July 1    Leaving Calcutta
Had a lie-in until 10 a.m.., and then went to the swimming club. Swam and loafed until lunchtime when a beautiful salad appeared, which we made short work of!
Swam and played until 3 p.m.. then did the round of goodbyes to all our friends: Mr and Mrs Mukerji, Dipak Roy, Mr and Mrs Sinclair (The Chief Engineer of the Rosebank and his wife) and all the other friends who had helped to make our stay such a pleasant one.
Took a taxi to the Kidderpur docks and, after the usual formalities, went on board the M.V.Santhia and settled in.
Quickly found the bar and made the discovery that beer only cost 62 pice a bottle. (approx 10p) We thought that maybe we had died and gone to heaven without our noticing!!
Had a couple and then went to dinner. And very good it was, too. Spent the evening drinking beer.
Weather - hot and sunny.
Figure 3.24: M.V. Santhia
A Confession
The only time we got seriously ripped off financially was in Calcutta.
The official exchange rate was 13 Rupees to the Pound, but we had been getting 23/24 to the pound in the bazaar. Just as we were about to change a large sum of money to pay for our passage to Singapore, we were warned that we would have to produce a banker’s receipt to show where we got the money. We could see no way round this so we changed at the official rate, at a bank..
Later we discovered that for about 5 pounds we could have bought a banker’s receipt! As they say, you live and learn.

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.