India: Calcutta (with a coworker on a stick)

As we were wrapping up meetings last week, I subtly reached into my bag to pull out MR on a stick.  He had to "visit" our cancer hospital project!  Thinking that my live-and-in-the-flesh coworker would see me as crazier than he already does, I wanted to do this quickly and without drawing too much attention.  That failed.  Instead, Raju saw what I was doing and immediately got in on the game!  Raju was so enthusiastic about taking MR on a stick out around town that we postponed our work plans to later in the evening just so we could get pictures while there was still daylight.  Behold!
MR in the hospital courtyard.

MR at the hospital main entry.

MR and I (and MR in my hand!) at the main entry.

MR on the bridge over the Hooghly River in Calcutta.

Promenade outside the hotel.

MR the taxi mechanic!

Watch out, MR!  That guy behind you is seeking a little "relief."

MR on the road.

MR and his namesake signage!

Raju and I stood in this intersection at the peak of rush hour trying to get the right "MR with the MR sign" picture.  I've never had so many people blatantly staring at me but surely we looked crazy. 

MR in traffic.  Calcutta has more modes of transportation in everyday use (14) than any other city on the planet .  Or at least Raju tells me this, as it was his thesis topic.

MR at the grain shop.  See the scale?

MR at the tiffin/dabba shop.

MR goes to the bar....

More hustle and bustle.

Watch out for the street food, MR!

Oooh, pretty bangles!  I bought 12 for Rs. 20.  Raju is a master negotiator.

MR in Chaplin Square, complete with trademark hat!
Brief notes on Calcutta/Kolkata:

  • Holy hell is it hot there.  100*F every day.  But there was a decent breeze and the humidity was lower than expected.
  • Calcutta is one of the most densely populated cities in India but it has a surprising amount of green space and parks, which were incorporated during British reign.  Farmland still peppers the main roads throughout downtown Calcutta itself and its surrounding suburbs.
  • The city is in the West Bengal state and due to its close proximity to the Bay of Bengal, fish plays a prominent role in the east Indian diet.  One traditional preparation involves steaming a filet in a banana leaf and smothering it with a spicy mustard.  Delicious!
  • In the analogy department, Mumbai:New York, Delhi::Washington, DC, Kolkata::Miami.  It's a lush city in many parts and there are small lakes and lagoons that run up alongside villages and/or new mega condominium complexes.  It was not unusual to see people bathing in the rivers and farming the fields while luxury cars idled at a stop light nearby.  
  • I feel like Kolkata is representative of all the things outsiders expect from India: lots of growth and development as clear indications of emerging wealth but no shortage of livestock in the streets, bathing with a bucket, and simple living by its people.  I rather enjoyed visiting!

View from hospital to new business sector. 

Gardens on one side of the hospital...

Cows in the back yard of the hospital!
View from new shopping mall. 

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