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Showing posts from November, 2000
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Indiaupdate II Calcutta, amazingly, was exactly how I imagined India to be before I arrived. A huge sea of crumbling concrete blocks dotted by fading mausoleums of the Raj. Long rows of street stlls selling chapati-and-curry in banana-leaf plates, chai in disposable clay cups, pyramids of sweets and fruits, cigarettes and drinks. Lots of beggars but not the feeding-frenzy swarms that I'd feared. Dangerously lean men pulling bored housewives around on India's last fleet of hand-drawn rickshaws - I haven't seen a Westerner on one and don't expect to. Buddhist monks videotaping their visit to the Victoria Monument. OK, so I never imagined that last one. Hammer-and-sickle signs spraypainted next to government slogans (to their credit, the Russians did give Calcutta a very impressive metro system, even if it's only one line.) Lean, feral dogs prowling the overgrown ruins of cemeteries and abandoned temples. Giggling hordes of schoolgirls in uniform pouring out of sch
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Nepalupdate II I just returned from Nepal to India, and the latter country is beginning to grow on me. Like a cancer. I'm beginning to realize that if you treat India as a game where the object is to perform activities in the least efficient manner possible, it makes a lot more sense. For example, changing money or buying a train ticket: go to wicket 1, push your way past the line, spend ten minutes with the man behind the wicket trying to understand one another, get form A, copy details from passport onto form A, get sent to wicket 2, find out that even though wicket 2 is open they're not dealing with your request for another half an hour, wait twenty minutes, discover long line at wicket 2 where requests are now being dealt with, push way into line (my size advantage over the locals is extremely helpful), produce form A and passport, watch man behind wicket 2 copy details from passport and discard form A unread, give money/check to man behind wicket 2, receive form B, g