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    All These Colors Tour: India Part 2

    Saturday, September 15, 2012
    Kolkata, India

    Walls in India look so amazing, like this charmer on Royd Street in Chowringhee, Kolkata.

    The country of India is so vast, they call it a subcontinent. In United States terms, we’re talking roughly four times the size of Texas. From major mountain ranges to tropical beaches, dusty plains to verdant jungles, quaint villages to teeming mega-cities, India spells diversity, and spills over with it. The country’s boundaries stretch 1,200 miles North-South by 1,400 miles East-West and contain over one billion people. That’s one seventh of the world’s population. A majority of Indians–about-80%–practice the Hindu religion, while Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism fill out the remaining 20%.

    The entry point for my first visit to India was Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, the third biggest city in the country. Revered as India’s cultural and intellectual capital, the stately city also maintains an unfortunate reputation for its extensive squalor and slums. Worlds full of wealth and poverty intermingle here on a daily basis. Vibrant colors, gritty textures, exhausting chaos and a symphony of traffic noise greet the senses on every street, making Kolkata a site-specific installation of pure, uncut life-as-art. I spent my first whole day in the city, uh, in my hotel room catching up on some rest and Photoshop work.

    The Vegetable Surprise at Mocambo in Kolkata, India.

    For my first meal of the day, I walked a half block down to Mocambo, another popular and crowded upscale establishment with waitstaff in white turbans and outfits. I ordered a vegetarian bowl with rice and naan bread that was so damned delicious, I couldn’t believe it. Zesty might be the word for it. Later in the evening, when I was looking at a map on a street corner to find a place to eat, a couple of ladies dressed in nice saris stopped, smiled, shook hands with me and gave me directions. I thought they were just being nice, but I was surprised when one of them started asking me for money. Since she helped, I gave her a little bit. But, then she followed me for a few blocks, asking me to buy her something in a store. Some of the beggars here are really tricky and persistent.

    I headed over to BBQ, another odd upscale place that is split into two separate parts of a big building–one for Japanese food and the other for Indian. I opted for the latter and sat in a little balcony above the loud, boisterous, packed room. When I ordered the vegetable kebab, I was expecting chunks of food on a stick. But, I was surprised when several rolled-up logs of ground-up vegetable matter arrived on my plate. They were soft and chewy, and when combined with the naan, kind of dry, so I had to load ’em down with some sauce. It was okay, but not great like my previous meals.

    Roll over photos for captions.
    Words and photos ©2012 Arcane Candy.

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