20 Jun 2009 Kolkata, India
 |  Category: India, Our Trip

Talk about culture shock…India is like another world!  You would never believe how different it is until you actually experience it yourself!  We arrived late at night and luckily had arranged for our hotel to pick us up.  On the drive there it was astonishing to see how many people were sleeping in the trash covered streets.  We were eager to arrive to the safety of our hotel.  The last Lonely Planet writer to visit the hotel had described it as “sparkling clean”, however, they must have a different idea of what is sparkling clean or they never went past the lobby.  The walls of our room were covered with dirty foot and hand prints, the curtains had a thick layer of dust, the sheets were definitely dirty (we slept in our sleep sacks) and the water barely trickled out of the shower head.  When we asked the guy at the front desk for two bottled waters, he gave us bottles with caps that had been opened.  When I told him that we could not drink the water if they had already been opened, he said that they were filled with filtered water.  We decided to not take any chances and finally used the water filter my Dad had given me.  Welcome to India!

India during the day was even more overwhelming than at night.  We had heard that the men in India will stare at you, but we weren’t prepared for the full on staring contest with every man we passed. We were on the defensive because we had also heard that Indian men were known for groping women in public, which made me want to shoot every guy a “don’t even think about it” look, but apparently women in India don’t look men in the eye unless they’re prostitutes. So I was a little torn between looking them in the eye and not looking them in the eye, because I didn’t want them to think I wasn’t paying attention in case they wanted to try something, but I also didn’t want them thinking that I was a prostitute. I usually went for the “looking them in the eye” tactic…it made me feel safer and most easterners have a view of western women being “easy” anyways. You would not believe how many men asked us if we were married…we heard it almost as often as “hello” because in their culture it is rare for a woman to be seen without a man. We didn’t talk to many women because there were never any around. Almost every job was performed by a man and walking down the street you saw about 95% men. It was so weird, almost like they were all in hiding.

We stayed in Kolkata 3 different times while in India. The first time we only stayed on day and then made a quick trip to Varanasi and back before my brother, David, arrived. The next day after he arrived we took the night train north to Darjeeling. Then after traveling around for about 2 weeks, we came back to Kolkata to fly to our next destination, Kenya. This time we stayed in a nice luxury hotel, thanks to our friend who works for a hotel chain and was able to get us a great discount. It was a wonderful way to end our stay in smelly, loud, dirty, scamming, intense India!

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2 Responses

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    FadWinett (via Trackback)

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