india kolkata

the indian basics

Sunday, February 01, 2009tee




India, Feb 2009

el roy, joseph and i left cebu on sunday and after a series of flights and waits at the airport (cebu-manila, manila - bangkok, bangkok - india), we were finally in india (after 12 hours since the minute we left cebu).
leaving for india was of mixed emotions for me, i didn't really gave it much of a thought and pushed it back on my mind until the last minute when reality crept in - this is really it!
blooper to blooper, throughout this week, we’ve had a share of those. first was when the car picked us up at the airport and Joseph tried to ride on the passenger seat (our passenger seat) with the puzzled drivers looking questioningly at each other. that was how we found out that India is left-hand-drive.
the hotel we’re staying at is probably the best in Kolkata, the ITC Sonar, which is just about 10-15 minutes ride to the Lexmark site. Kolkata is one of the big cities in India but smaller and farther West than much progressive cities New Delhi and Mumbai. the currency is rupee, which is give or take equivalent to the peso so no need for calculations and the trusty currency calculator! though usually, the prices are often tax exclusive so one must make a mental note to add an extra 12.5% to the bill.
first stop, a mall (and a bad experience with drivers who jack up their prices to see foreigners hailing taxis.. the yellow taxis by the way, as I’ve noticed pull the windows up (no airconditioning.). there are big malls in Kolkata, and we’ve been frequenting City Centre and Mani Square for this week to eat.
speaking of food, we had a first taste of the food on the plane going to kolkata. it was chicken curry and I found it really spicy (later on discovered it wasn’t the authentic spicy curry, the real one was more spicier…) . the chicken curry we had in the Philippines was tolerable and suited to Filipino palate, real Indian curry takes a mixture of a lot of spices and herbs (I read that once in an Indian cookbook).
the food in the hotel is good, we have free breakfast buffet, but later this week, I’ve gotten bored with the selections. It’s a good thing though that there are multiple array of food options (American, Japanese, and Indian), but seeing all of it everyday seemed to have taken its toll on me. :P
on the first day at the office, we tried the cafeteria to see if we can take the spiciness and I was shocked that rice is served to people as if on a platter (read: 3-4 cups is usually good for one). And then we were asked vegetarian or non-vegetarian (most food shops have this option given the population of Hindus who don’t eat beef and Muslims who don’t eat pork).
food servings are generally upsized here. Mc Donalds is a “family restaurant” with people lining up in queues and in barangays, KFC chicken still tastes the way it did back home (except for the Indian rice and the chili-like sauce), Pizza hut’s pizza have a tinge of spices, and Chinese restaurants do not serve the food we’ve so gotten used back home. Chinese food have been merged with Indian influence. We did have some siomai cravings and was delighted to see ‘shrimpt siu mai’ in a Chinese restos menu (the first Chinese resto didn’t have those and so we ordered 2 each, only to find out sort of meatball-resembling-siomai with spices and worst of all, my hatest herb (of the moment) – cilantro! we usually don’t eat dinner here because we end up always feeling as if our digestive tract has not adjusted yet. (not sure because of the spices or because our tummies are still “Philippine time” given that Cebu is 2.5 hours ahead of India.
the temperature here is lower than Cebu. it’s said to be “winter” here with about 20 degrees in the morning (no snow, by the way). it gets really chilly and foggy in the early morning.
i haven’t been around that much yet, but so far i see people from all walks of life here, with women usually wearing sa-rees (oftentimes on top of mid-rib blouses exposing their bellies). we haven’t been out to the heart of the city yet, the only people we interact with are those from the hotel and office (and our driver and those in the mall).buses are a common mode of transportation and it’s not uncommon to see people crammed up in buses. some also travel through bicycles as well. yellow taxis are a common sight in the city as well. traffic is relatively moderate, but you can get caught in jams in peak hours.
about the scents, i’d leave that experience of the senses for another post. and of course about the encounters with interesting people here.

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7 scribble(s)

  1. looks like you're not so rusty anymore. :)

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  2. nah, it feels like my english has downgraded :) anyway, thanks ka. really want to go home na. all of us do :(

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  3. yeah, go home. :) mingaw na sad mi diri. :)

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  4. on second thought... enjoy yourself na lang. you won't likely ever go back... so make it count. hehe. :)

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  5. you're right ka.. make every moment count, no matter if feeling nimo hinay kaau gadagan ang clock (which is what we feel on weekdays)... see you in a week!

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  6. now, this gives me an idea of what happened there. Thanks for the blog :) nice one! Your blog by the way made me think to re-connect w/my blog acct. w/c as of now I painstakingly hope to find 'coz I already forgot my acct. heheheh

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  7. go ate gemma! post and revive blogging! :)

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