Kolkata – my first memories of India

Hi Everyone

This morning I’m on my way to Kolkata, for even another wedding.

For some reason Kolkata, or Calcutta as it used to be before, holds some of my very first memories of India. It is in some way the absolutely REAL INDIA for me. I tried to figure out why it is like this, but not really sure. One reason might be the song “Gutta fra Calcutta”, which I do think I listened to a lot as a kid. Please listen to it. It’s a nice, or rather funny, song. And the video also contains some nice pictures of snowy Norway.

One more reason why I remember Kolkata is the two books about India that I used to read as a kid; The road to Agra and off course The Jungle Book. I do still think I can remember some of the drawings in “The road to Agra” and quite surely my dad still have a LP at home with “The Jungle Book”. Today off course I know that none of these books have anything to do with Kolkata, but when I was a kid I thought it was like that.

Today Kolkata is one of the biggest cities in India, with more than 14 million people (according to Wikipedia). Kolkata is known as the cultural center of India. Or at least so I was told by one of my earlier friends in Mumbai. She’s from the area, so not sure if she’s the most trustworthy source. Some Keralans might strongly disagree with her. But there is no doubt that Kolkata have more Nobel literature prize winners than any other cities in India. The Bengali literature has a very old and proud history. During my visit here I will surely try to see some of the old cultural places.

Kolkata is also quite famous for its hand pulled rickshaws. I can easily admit that I have really mixed feelings about this mood of transportation. Off course I know that if I use it, I help a quite very poor person, but at the same time I feel it completely wring that anyone should have to pull me. I have two quite ok legs, and should be able to walk myself.

Several major streets have been closed to rickshaw traffic since 1972, and in 1982 the city seized over 12,000 rickshaws and destroyed them. In 1992, it was estimated that over 30,000 rickshaws were operating in the city, all but 6,000 of them illegally, lacking a license (no new licenses have been issued since 1945). The large majority of rickshaw pullers rent their rickshaws for a few dollars per shift. They live cheaply in hostels, trying to save money to send home.

Most Kolkata rickshaws serve people “just a notch about poor” Many middle-class families contract with rickshaw pullers to transport their children to and from school. When it floods in Kolkata, rickshaw business increases and prices rise. When it rains, even the governor takes rickshaws.

If you like to know more about the manual rickshaws in Mumbai I can absolutely remember the book City of Joy.

More about Kolkata will come when I’m done with the trip for sure.

Talk to you soon!

Karsten

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