Day 2 began much later due to changes in time zones. I was awake all night and slept most of the day. I woke up around 2pm, and even questioned as to why I should even go outside – I was that tired.
Alas, I ventured out into the world, using my GPS to find a local McDonalds. I walked down streets and pavements still being constructed, forcing many individuals to walk onto the road. I saw parks filled with smiling faces playing cricket and food outlets in every nook and cranny, with just some stones, a pan, and a small fire being their kitchens. But then I saw the most horrific sights of abject poverty I have ever seen in my life. People sleeping in the middle of the pavement with all of their belongings placed neatly around them, people urinating and spitting in the street, and children, not even older than 10, sat alone with their hands outstretched, begging me for anything. The streets along my journey had leaking manholes and streams of filth in some places, grime, and soot encased buildings dwarfed the hundreds of stray dogs running loose among the city streets.
I eventually passed this area and reached my destination, it was located in a shopping mall, considerably smaller than the one I visited yesterday. Think visiting Blue Water then going to Emery Gate, Chippenham. That. Upon arrival, a sign greeted me on a single piece of white A4: “Closed, sorry for any inconvenience.” Typical.
After enjoying a sub from a busy sandwich outlet (if you must know it was Chicken Tikka, with lettuce in a parmesan and oregano loaf), I headed on into the city. My initial thought was to head to the area where my place of work would be, but considering that would take away the whimsy of visiting it for the first time on the actual first day, I decided to head to one of the landmarks instead. The Victoria Memorial, which is a replica of the Taj Mahal, was built during the British rule. A real symbol of old India. As a Brit it seemed appropriate to visit. Due to it being a Sunday, I thought it wouldn’t be busy – boy was I wrong. Could barely move. I went anyway and walked around the beautiful gardens. It was a quaint experience. I did feel a little insecure walking around a form British symbol of power over, what was considered at the time, a lesser people. Especially since everyone kept staring at me. I got some fabulous photos, much like the main one on this piece, highlighting old Kolkata with the new.
I got a taxi back to my apartment, which was terrifying and decided to go out in the evening. I found a bar online that showed British football – considered my team, Arsenal was playing, I had to be there. I was surprised to find they serve little to no alcohol. Instead, it was mainly Hookah (shisha). I had a pizza and a few Red Bulls, and after continual pestering, I ordered some Hookah, just to try. I opted for Fruitella flavour, being the pansy that I am. I found the experience to be strangely enjoyable, considering I don’t smoke. I was talking to the owner of the bar and he then introduced his brother, a banker with Standard Charter. He spoke perfect English and has some intriguing views on football. We sat there for hours exchanging stories and footballing memories and favourite players. He offered to take me to a rooftop bar later in the week, which I accepted. I didn’t think I’d make friends this quickly – if at all!
The night ended with me eventually realizing the time and getting home. Ready for bed and yet still not tired. Was it the Red Bull? The Hookah? Or perhaps I still haven’t adjusted to the time zones. It didn’t help that my apartment is located near the local army school, which practice all night long. Nor does it help that the traffic continues long into the night with their horns continuously honking. It doesn’t help that dogs were howling way into the night or that crows were crowing at in the early hours. To top it all off, the call to prayer is around 5am. No rest for the wicked. Nor for Ben. Day 2 was enjoyable – despite no sleep of course.