Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday, May 19

Yesterday after watching the sun rise, Phillip, Muxuan and I went on a walk around the neighborhood at around 8am. Not much was open because it was Sunday, but it was really nice out...not too hot yet. The sun begins to rise here at 4am and is up by 5, so the ever present heat is intensified by tenfold by about 10am.

On our walk we stopped by Deshapriya Park, where there was a children's cricket league practicing and playing. Deshapriya Park is really lovely, it's a big square patch of grass with a walkway all the way around, with beautiful brick walls that enclose the park and a few cemeteries/statues.

From Deshapriya Park we made our way down Sarat Bose Rd. and explored a few side streets. We came upon a huge Sunday market where people were selling tons of fruit, vegetables and meat. We saw live chickens being slaughtered, which was... a lot to see. And smell.

We also found a man selling lychee, and Muxuan was extremely excited because lychee is very common in China, so she bought a bunch for 70 rupees (about $1.20). The man selling the lychee was super nice, we chatted with him for a few minutes. 
Now's a good time to mention that I don't take anyone's photograph (at least an identifiable one) without first asking them.

The fact that we are in a post-colonial country is incredibly evident when you look at the surrounding buildings. I haven't taken any good photos of them, but the style and structure are so colonial, yet...a bit battered. My cousin Kate would have a ball here, I'm sure she'd be able to identify which buildings are colonial and whatnot. What sticks out the most are the colors. They are sooo vivid and beautiful!

After our walk, we came back to the apartment and relaxed in the living room for awhile. Yesterday was a day of rest. Oh an I had a great conversation with Nirmal the caretaker (half of which was lost in translation! He he), and required me to draw for him. I was trying to find out the name of the tree that he'd shaken the yellow flowers from (you asked, Mom):

I'm not entirely sure if kolkalful (which is my phonetic spelling) is the word for "tree" or is the type of tree that the flowers came from, but it took us about 10 minutes to come to this. I kept saying "tree" and he kept telling me how to say "three" in Bengali. It was quite the conversation and laugh when we finally figured out what I was trying to ask him.

After that, I went and took a four hour nap, woke up and FaceTimed with Kelsey and Kylie! Kylie sang a rousing rendition of Let It Go from Frozen and Kelsey also showed her on the globe where I am. "Dats a long ride!" she exclaimed. So cute... I miss her, I wish I could hug her. She gives the best hugs/cuddles.

Later we went to dinner at Tamarind, a really nice restaurant nearby. I got super adventurous and got a dessert I'd never had before. It's called Kulfi Faluda - the reason I got it is because in Cambridge in Inman Square there is an ice cream place called Christina's. One of the flavors that they offer is "khulfi" and I never really knew what it was, but it was my favorite flavor. I got so excited to see it on the menu last night! This is what it looked like when it arrived:
It's kind of like a super frozen ice cream with pistachios, a sweet sauce, and vermicelli noodles on top. An interesting combo, but it was good! 

Paying the restaurant bill was a challenge. Actually paying for anything is a challenge. Because of the exchange rate and inflation, rupees come in huge denominations... so it's really hard to tell what you're paying for something (in dollars) unless you pull out your phone and use a conversion app, just to get a sense of how much you're spending. Last night we had to use a piece of paper and write everything out. In the end this is what it looked like:

And then we still ended up being wrong, and had a few hundred rupees left over. It's so confusing...we try so hard. I'm sure we'll get used to it once we wrap our head around what each denomination is worth. This is what I need to remember: 

50 rupees = .85
100 rupees = 1.71
500 rupees = 8.53
1000 rupees = 17.07

Oh, I should also mention that I started adding to the "Favorite Photos from India" tab on the blog.

We are just starting our day - it's 9am here. I woke up at 7 and couldn't go back to sleep. Kolkata wakes up very, very early. As Phillip (and Frozen) would say "The skyyy is awake, so I am awake!"

Today we need to go grocery shopping. And perhaps some more exploring. Orientation at Durbar is on Wednesday!

I'm feeling a little homesick this morning. Love to everyone.


Grace Pusey said...

Love to you, too! "Phul" means "flower" in Hindi. I don't know what "kolka" means. My guess is that he was saying "kul ka phul" -- full of flowers (kul = full, ka = of, phul = flowers.) I could be wrong, though. Bangla and Hindi are similar but not mutually intelligible.

weebarrett said...

Love your photos of the market and the door! Great shots!

Rachel Penn said...

Ice cream and noodles?! Was it good? I wonder what Ben & Jerry would think about that...