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Recursion

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Gender: Male
Hometown: DC
Home country: USA
Current location: Neuilly-sur-Seine
Member since: Fri Apr 28, 2006, 10:13 PM
Number of posts: 55,409

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Calcutta pictures (dial-up warning)

My wife and I went to Calcutta this weekend for two reasons: for me to meet her family, and to avoid the first hellish day of Ganesh Chaturthi (the largest Hindu festival in Mumbai). Here are some pictures I took.

Here are some street views driving from the airport:









It will take me a while to get used to cars driving on the left...



Calcutta is "eastern" in a way that is difficult to describe -- the architecture, the vegetation; we're actually closer to Rangoon than Mumbai. This gives some small idea of it.





One of the many lakes from the Hooghly River











Remember: cows always have right-of-way.

We went first to my late father-in-law's family's house.



That's me receiving a blessing of yogurt, grain, and flowers from my mother-in-law. The men blew conch horns like trumpets and the women did that uvulating thing. The neighbors joined in. Then the monsoon hit and we all had to sprint inside. There were some tiktikis (geckos, sort of) that came in with us, but I couldn't get a good picture of them.



Being blessed is thirsty work, so I had some refreshing green coconut water after, along with the traditional meal of rice, lentils, fried fish, and fried fish roe.

The family (my family now, I suppose) was wonderful. I had a Bengali phrasebook that was somewhat useful:
Tea: "cha"
Good: "bhalo"
Uncle: "please see the attached 7-page insert on kinship terms". Sigh. There were I think 6 uncles and 14 cousins there, all of whom had a different relationship name with me (father-in-law's older brother is "jetu", while father-in-law's younger brother is "gakhu", etc.)





Then we went to the bazaar to try to find me some sandals. Unfortunately, while my feet go to 11, Indian shoe sizes generally do not.

After that, we went to my Mashimoni's apartment (mother-in-law's younger sister) in the middle of the city. She has this really cool place that is difficult to describe and I didn't get good shots of what was so interesting, unfortunately: the hallway between the rooms is actually a balcony; you have to go outside to get between rooms. But that doesn't quite get it either because the line between "outside" and "inside" is a little blurry because there are awnings everywhere.

Anyways, here's the view from her balconies:



(This balcony, apparently, has a monkey problem)









And here's me with my mashimoni and her housekeeper (who has been employed by the family for 60 years; her granddaughter is about to get her Master's degree in chemistry, which is a sign of how India is changing).



Finally, we went to my shashuri's (mother-in-law's) house for the Ganesh holiday there (it's not as big in Calcutta as Mumbai. However, my attempt to rename it "A Ganeshtivus for the rest of us" was not taken up).



Here is Lord Ganesh in his house inside the apartment building lobby before the adornment and ceremony.



And here's the ceremony in full swing, with Agni (the fire) taking the offerings of sweet wood and ghee.



And here's the view from the front.

Calcutta is a beautiful city and I can't recommend it highly enough.
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