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First Half Day in India. Tripping out in Calcutta.

To sum up my first impressions of India in one word it would be “Mental”. After now being in India for nearly 3 weeks now I have started to adapt to the madness of it all. But let me tell you a crazy story about my very first day.

After a house sitting for a year in Thailand I was ready for some serious traveling adventures. Flew from Bangkok landing in Kolkata (Calcutta) airport with my girlfriend and we set off on an adventure to get to a hotel and get settled. I don’t know why but for some reason I did it all a little different than I usually would. Normally, when landing in a country that I have never visited before I would always book a room in advance for at least the first night. This time I only had the name of the train station closest to the airport and the plan was to get a bus from the airport to there, (I always try to avoid taxis from airport’s as they’re usually a rip off and rather my first experiences of a country be traveling with the locals rather than potentially being cheated) then head to Sudder Street area (backpacker central where all the cheap hotels and tourist information places are). Get a room, get our bearings and figure out how to get myself connected to the internet. The journey from the airport went smoothly and we soon arrived at Sudder Street (sort of like Thailand’s Khaosan Road), not my ideal place to stay but a good easy start rather than jumping straight off the tourist track.

This guy sits in his little cupboard shop 14 hours a day!

This is where it all started to go slightly weird, I’d heard about the tourist touts and was saying “No thank you” alot as we battled round looking for a decent guest house to drop our bags and get showered and relax. Many of the hotels and guest houses were full so when we did find one that had rooms we went for it. The hotel was an old British built building with really high ceilings and after checking in we were lead to our room by this tiny old Indian midget guy who was about 3ft tall, dropped our bags and quick freshen up. The missus wanted a little sleep whilst I went out to figure out the internet situation.

After just 2 hours, I had worked it all out and had set myself up with a usb dongle thing that I could plug straight into my laptop and apparently good speed internet 24/7. I’d have to test it out for a day or so to actually believe it but I was very proud of myself and was almost dancing back to my room punching the air with satisfaction that I was fully connected within hours of landing in India.

I got back to the room opened the door and was hit by this strong smell of some sort of thinners or gasoline and the missus sitting on the bed not looking happy. “What the hell is that smell”, I said. She explained that because of the noise of the traffic outside she had closed the window, as it was wide open when we first arrived and that she could smell gasoline and figured that it was coming from the traffic outside.

After trying to work it out for 10 minutes I said, “Right, we’re not havin this” and went to grab a hotel staff to get them to sort it out or at least put us in another room.

By this time I was starting to spin out a little bit (and the missus was pretty much tripping) from inhaling the fumes and when the little 3ft tall hotel guy came to our room with really high ceiling (about 20ft) it was all starting to feel a little bit like Alice in wonderland. Just to make it even weirder the little Indian hobbit guy was armed with a supersize (about 1ft tall) can of air freshener. He sprayed the room and told us that we must keep the window open.

“Eh? So the smell is in the room then?” I said,

The little guy replied “Yeah, we use Paraffin to kill the bed bugs”

WTF ?

After being left very confused and shocked by it all, we quickly checked out of that hotel and found another place, which turned out to be really nice and was actually cheaper but, most importantly didn’t smell of Paraffin.

Incredible India !?! What a bizarre first day.

Jump in the comments below and let me know…

Have you been to India ? Got any tips, must see places, or weird experiences to share?

If you have not visited India, does it appeal to you ? Probably not after reading this ;)

posted by admin in Location Independent,Travelling and have View Comments
  • http://www.foggodyssey.com/ Anonymous

    Dude glad to see made it finally and funny story about the smell.  I will say I would take the smell over bed bugs any day.  I freaking hate bed bugs!!!!!!!!!  Only had 1 case of them in India luckily for me.

    A note on the toggles for internet there.  I used one the whole time there and for the most part it worked through out India but only after I had it all fixed up.  When you buy it, they unlock it for that state and that state only.  So to make it work in a new state (as when you move on) you’ll have to call the company and have them unlock that state as well.  Lucky for me I was able to do that on the train trip, in which we covered all of India in 2 weeks, so every other day I was having a local Indian guy on the trip call them and unlock it for me.  Then later when I went to travel around India by myself I didn’t have an issue.  Word of thought.  GlobeTrooper.com wrote an article about it as well.

  • http://MiltBlog.com Milt

    Just the thought of bed bugs makes me shudder. Street :) I had them only once in Malaysia and the guest house’s excuse there was because this old women neighbor died and her corpse was there rotting for a month before anyone realized. The thoughts of a dead body next door still doesn’t make easy sleeping either. Massive thanks on the toggles tip. I will defo delve deeper on that. Still blown away by the paper work involved in setting up a SIM.

  • http://www.marthassos.com/ Martha’s SOS

    Hey Milt

    Wow, what an experience. I’ve never been to India however, back in my corporate days I had a few Indian colleagues located in New Dehli, Kolkatta, Mumbai etc and I always promised that I would visit them and see their country.

    I find their culture and way of life fascinating. I must admit though, the thought of bed bugs turns my stomach lol I am so pleased you go out of there.

    An old friend once told me that once you see a monkey and an elephant cross the road in front of you then you know you’re in India.

    I watched a documentary about the worlds shortest man – He came in at a staggering 2ft 9in, so you had me rolling on the floor with your 3ft Indian midget gag. I just had a random image in my head – Google him (Aditya ‘Romeo’ Dev, from Phagwara, India) and you’ll see why lol

    I wish you both safe & happy travels.

    Take care
    Martha

  • http://MiltBlog.com Milt

    Hey Martha, Glad you enjoyed that little story. I’ve not seen an elephant yet (only a matter of time)but I have seen monkeys, cows and goats casually strolling round the streets.
    India seems to always be extremes at both ends, so when it’s dirty it’s really, really nasty and smelly but when it’s nice(like the place I’m at right now) it’s really beautiful and really clean.
    Oh and that midget guy to be honest was maybe a bit taller than 3ft, maybe 3ft 2in (didn’t have my tape measure to hand) and he was probably 50 years old, but what made it super crazy was the high ceilings, 1tf can of air freshener mixed in with being high of fumes. At the time I was thinking OMG I’ve got a few months of this ahead of me !
    Just googling that worlds smallest man now :)

  • http://www.marthassos.com/ Martha’s SOS

    lol, yes I know what you mean. You must have been tripping lol

    I seriously had the image in my head, the ceilings, the small man and the exceedingly large can of air freshener.

    I have to agree, India can also be beautiful – My other half was their for a while in Goa and thought it was amazing.

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