Asia

Kolkata, India

Coming out of the hotel this morning I was almost run over by a kid on a bike. That’s a nice bike, I thought. He should learn how to use the breaks though. Then I noticed it was my bike. I sold it to a guy who works in the hotel yesterday. I don’t know who the kid riding it was, I think just one of the kids who lives in the same courtyard that the hotel is in. They’re not really houses, more rooms made out of brick and concrete. The men in the families all seem to sleep…

Kolkata, India

I’ve given the bike away. Or sold it, but for 2500 Rupees, which is just over £30, to the guy who works in the hotel I’ve been staying in for the past two weeks. He’s been asking about it most of the time I’ve been here, seeing it sitting out the back not being ridden. It’s actually GediBikes who have given the bike away. Donated it to kolkata. Not the most bike friendly place in the world. Probably one of the least bike friendly places in the world, but it is one of the most congested so a bike could…

Sudder Street Internet Place, Kolkata, India

The trouble with coming to the internet place at lunch time is that I have to endure the smell and sounds of people eating curry right behind where I sit. (Whenever I come it seems to be someeone’s lunch time or dinner time or supper time.) At the moment the Spanish woman who works here is eating, using her right hand like the Indians do. I can’t do that. Always need a fork or a spoon. I think she’s Spanish. She speaks Spanish, and she looks more Spanish than South American. The South Americans you meet travelling tend to be…

Kolkata, India

I’ve just been to the delivery place, planning to tell them that I’m not sending the bike back any more, I’m going to sell it to the guy in the hotel who has been asking about it virtually every day for the past week. He can only pay 3000 Rupees, but for him that’s two months wages, and he seems to really like the bike. You don’t get bikes like that in India. You don’t get many bikes like it any where. All the way across Canada people were interested in the bike. Particularly other cyclists. The delivery place wasn’t…

Kolkata, India

It looks like I’ve found a place that’ll send the bike back to England. It’s going to cost 4000 Rupees (more than £50) but it’ll be a relief not to have it. I’ve hardly cycled at all since I got here and didn’t cycle much in Thailand so it’s really just been a burden, making travelling around way more awkward than it needs to be. The place is in a tiny office below street level, with a door even I have to bend over to get through, just down the road from where I’m staying. I’d walked past it many…

Kolkata, India

A guy comes around the internet cafe carrying a pot of burning incense and chanting things. A few people look up from their computers. The connection went down a few minutes ago so perhaps the chanting was to bring the network back. Seems to have worked. The little kid starts screaming his head off and is placed on the shelf above my head. The rest of the family are eating curry behind me. I bought a bell today, off this rikshaw driver who’s been trying to sell it to me for the past two weeks. I bought it for 50…

Kolkata, India

I didn’t tell anyone it was my birthday yesterday but three people asked me my age. It’s good to get used to saying it. 40. 40. 40. Walking down Sudder Street not really going anyone one of the woman with children beggars whom I’ve refused to give money on a number of occasions stops me and wants to talk. She invites me to sit down on the pavement and asks questions. The usual questions: What’s your name? Where are you from? What do you do? Are you married? Why not? Her friend’s child, who I think is a girl –…

Kolkata, India

The old rikshaw puller asked me if I wanted a ride just now but I said I was just going down the road. Then he tried to sell me his bell, a round silver bell he wears on one finger and taps against the arm of his rikshaw as he pulls it, though I’ve never seen this guy pulling his rikshaw. He wanted 70 Rupees for the bell. But then you won’t have a bell, I said. I need to eat, he said. What would I do with a bell? He comes down to 60 Rupees. I could put the…

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