March 23. The big fire.

Fire in a Calcutta hotel

On the day we leave, a thick cloud of smoke colors the sky of Calcutta. Sadly, a short circuit has caused a big fire in the same building as where Flurrys is located, the grand café where we had treated ourselves to our morning day just hours ago. Given the seperatist struggles in the provinces, we first think of terrorism, but as we see the building and the flames bursting out of the upper floor windows, we realize what this is. More than twenty people die in this fire, I read in the newspaper later, and this could have been prevented if the municipal officials wouldn’t take bribes from contractors and house owners that want to avoid making buildings safe. A huge crowd has gathered and people are staring at the smoke, giving way to the fire trucks that start arriving to the scene. It’s time for us to go.
We get ourselves to the train station and board the A/C class train we have booked to Delhi. The air conditioning is cold and stupid, but A/C also means they provide linen and meals. And they feed us well for the luxury surcharge.

March 23. The big fire.

On the day we leave, a thick cloud of smoke colors the sky of Calcutta. Sadly, a short circuit has caused a big fire in the same building as where Flurrys is located, the grand café where we had treated ourselves to our morning day just hours ago. Given the seperatist struggles in the provinces, we first think of terrorism, but as we see the building and the flames bursting out of the upper floor windows, we realize what this is. More than twenty people die in this fire, I read in the newspaper later, and this could have been prevented if the municipal officials wouldn’t take bribes from contractors and house owners that want to avoid making buildings safe. A huge crowd has gathered and people are staring at the smoke, giving way to the fire trucks that start arriving to the scene. It’s time for us to go.
We get ourselves to the train station and board the A/C class train we have booked to Delhi. The air conditioning is cold and stupid, but A/C also means they provide linen and meals. And they feed us well for the luxury surcharge.

March 20-22. Calcutta. Mother Teresa.

Our hotel in Calcutta is quite comfortable. Unfortunately, our couchsurfer was not available so we couldn’t discover the city from the inside as much as we would have liked to. Now we just walk around the old streets and drop by an Italian restaurant that serves delicious pizza. The place is owned by an Indian food enthousiast, and whenever he likes a cuisine, he adds a restaurant to his culinary imperium.

We have run out of ideas and energy to be frank, and it comes in handy that this is the city of Mother Teresa. We will visit her charity here and support one of the affiliated orphanages. It is easy to find, and they welcome us. But we are not the only visitors. This is a multi million dollar charity industry of devout followers of mother Teresa. I like to support her though, especially now in days where the Pope is saying a lot of harch and unfriendly things. We explain a nun about Charity Travel, and she nods her head in kindness. Yes we can make a donation and we can visit the place where they are enrolling volunteers. We walk over to another compound where about fifty foreigners are filling out forms and lining up in front of a desk to get their volunteer assignment done. We speak to the man standing behind that desk but he doesn’t seem very interested. So we simply donate some cash inside (have to get rid of it in some way) and interview one of the participating volunteers, a middle-aged Canadian woman. She is very enthousiastic about the openness here: they literally take everybody that lines up here with their passport.
Calcutta, what else? A friendly giant, cosy old market streets, motives and moments for your camera on every corner, and you can still sense the British colonialism on some of her streets. There is a cathedral with a stable roof.

I buy the book “the white tiger” on the street.