Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Kolkata at Last!

Yerterday we left Delhi for our destination city Kolkata. It was a two hour plane ride that touched us down about a half hour outside of the city. We arranged for a driver to meet us at the airport to take us to the Hindustan hotel. Construction is going on everywhere here. The driver informed us that they are building apartments, a clear indication that this city is booming. The traffic was gridlocked once we hit the city. When I asked the driver he said it was because it was Monday, the first day of the business week.

Kolkata is much different then the the other cities we have visited. It is much hotter and more humid, which is hard to believe is possible. The countryside seems much more lush to me, almost jungle like. Palm trees are everywhere, unlike the the occasional up cropping we noticed on the west side of the country.

Having been spoiled by the Alsisar Haveli in Jaipur, we realize we are once again in a big city at the Hindustan. Our room faces what we think is a convent and the street below never sleeps. I think it is the major road through the heart of the city and it is a continual symphony of horns, yells, beeps, and engine noise. Just a hotel, not the charm of a heritage property. It is hard to imagine that tomorrow there will be a small child playing in this very room.

Karen and I circled the phone as she called the orphanage to set a time to meet our girls. Tuesday at 11:00 am! It was confirmed that our paperwork was sent ahead from the adoption agency to the US consulate because the person we were to see there was going to be away. This means that after we tour the orphanage and get Devi today we are done with the legal process here in India. All the mounds of paperwork come down to one piece of paper that gives permission from our agency to take custody of her. When Karen hung up, I can honestly say my legs were shaking.

At long last, we can finally transfer the donations for the ayahs and babies out of the suitcase for travel to ISRC. They have had a long journey form our home to the Nikko where they remained locked up with the bell man while we did the rest of our traveling. We reclaimed them there and they made the trek with us to the Kolkata. The logistics of the packing and shifting of suitcases is finally coming to an end, I think.

After settling in, we and the Welser’s decided we needed a spot of lunch and decided to venture out on foot to find it. After receiving directions twice we finally happened upon a sign for Cal’s terrace view cafe. Following our noses, we eneded up an elevator and a flight of stairs, all the while thinking that the building was abandoned. Not so, at the top was a little cafe loaded with local teenagers celebrating a couple of birthdays. We were surprised to hear them singing Happy Birthday in english so we joined in.

The food is inexpensive so we tried a sampling of food items. Very interesting things arrived at the table, my favorite was a stuffed dosa - like a crepe with different fillings that you tear off in strips and dip in a coule of yummy sauces. We also had a paneer and garlic pizza that was equally as delicious and slightly sweet. Everything here has a bit of a kick to it...not just hot....but flavorful spicey.

Airborne has failed Patrick on this trip and he has managed to catch a cold so we decided to take it easy and stay in the hotel for the night. We watched a little television and fell asleep early. Surprisingly, even with the street noise we slept soundly. The first full nights sleep of the whole trip thus far.

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