About Me

Kolkata, West Bengal, India
21yrs old Born in England, Brought up in France. BScEcon, Marketing at University of Wales, Aberystwyth. Traits: Smiley, annoyingly optimistic, altruistic, open minded, pragmatic, agnostic, ironic, perfectionist, knows he can be pretentious, stubborn and sardonic. Traveler, experiencer, novelty junkie. Carpediem to the core.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


  I've only been here three days but I'm already pretty comfortable. I guess I'm lucky in the fact that I learnt to adapt to new surroundings and situations, quickly, early on. Arriving in foreign France, with a huge six words of French, on a Thursday night and being put into the local school on the Friday morning teaches you a few things. Such as the guessing game of when to say Oui or Non: if they laugh, as they often did,  you've got it wrong!

  But it's not all down to my impervious character, no it's actually thanks to my Indian family. Even being well aware of the famous Indian hospitality I was in for a treat. They threw open their arms to greet me with heartfelt kindness, smiling and seeing to my every need. Then it was onto the food, what a banquet of spice and taste. There was only four of us and yet 3 vegetable dishes, 2 meats, dhal, rice and rotis (bread) were all laid out on the table.
I think the first thing I learnt about the Bengalis was just how much they love their food. "Live to eat" don't "eat to live".
As a foodie myself, that first meal was all I needed to feel at home. I believe "home is where the heart is" but actually, with two resident chefs, it's always been where the good food is!
I was very thankful for such an extravagant first meal and when they said it was nothing I just thought they were being modest. Turns out though, that every meal is a feast like affair here.

  I was told I was to be treated as their son, which involves an awful lot of pampering, something I'm not very accustomed to or really know how to deal with. Telling an Indian that you don't want anymore of this dish or that pudding falls on completely deafened ears. It seems rude to contradict, as it is by no means a question and more like an order. I've had to learn the hard way that you have to forget your Western manners about finishing everything on your plate because out here, an empty plate means a not full enough stomach! As for eating customs everything is done with the right hand, no need for useless cutlery, the heat and texture of the food is first touched and then tasted. The left hand is a strict no no though! Some people won't even accept money out of it.

  My family have taken it upon themselves to give me a full Indian education and answer any questions that I may have, to which my reserve seems infinite. My first lesson, which I will most certainly have to meditate on later, was "you will either consume or be consumed by India". 

I'm not sure what the answer is to that one, if there is one at all but I do know I'm taking the whole thing in and trying not to get overwhelmed!

Indian home, checked off the list next stop Indian Job.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Communion of Crows

  Like most houses in Kolkata, the house where I live has a roof terrace. This extra space however is not used for tables, chairs and roof gardens but more for laundry drying and living quarters for the domestics. Be this as it may, I have always been drawn to heights and thus the roof terrace upon the roof terrace, 2 square meters of perchoir, reached by a very steep iron ladder, has become my favorite place.
  Sun down and sun up in India is renown for the light switch effect it has on the world. One minute it's light and the next it's dark, there's no slow descent or waver on the horizon, it's been and gone in a matter of minutes.

   Everybody likes a sunset, it's the iconic backdrop of every romantic outing but for me it's a slightly more fanatical fancy. I find Solace in those moments before it sets and rises, a signal that the day is over or another has begun. The colors act as a tranquilizer, the air chills or warms, the world seems to stand still, the only thing of any significance is what I behold before my eyes, my whole body is filled with joy at the magnificence of the moment. A thrilled enlightenment that can only be bested when you add sheer height to the equation.
  I believe that we appreciate something truly if we are able to share it with someone, but only a scarce few of my friends have ever wanted to follow me up the buildings, trees, cliffs and hills that I have found for the perfect viewing of our daily eclipse.

  As it is such a momentary thing here, I initially thought it better not to wait for anybody rather than not get to see it at all. But to my surprise I was far from alone, here they flock to see the stunning sight of the setting sun.
  Every night thousands attend this ceremony; as I peer out over the monsoon eaten roofs and houses of New Alipore my gaze blackens and ears flatten to the beating wings and squawking rush of hundreds of Grey necked crows landing for their daily communion. These scavengers who tend to roam in groups of 3 or 4 and mate for life are obviously not the solitary type but it was still a shock when I first witnessed this occurrence.  Upon every rooftop, for as far as the eye could see, all sitting together, now in total silence, they watch the fall of the day and coming of night.

  As a child with an air rifle, trouble, I was always told that there was something magical about crows, something that shouldn't be messed with, that they remembered. Well of course I listened but I always took this as being a more intriguing way of saying: "please don't shoot the crows darling, they've done nothing to you. Shoot the magpies instead, their evil."
  Perched up on my own rooftop with a few of the braver ones accompanying me I wondered back at that and even if they weren't magic so to say, there was definitely more then met the eye. What was sure was that at that moment I felt an odd attachment to them for our joint and ritual appreciation of the setting sun. Was it possible that like ancient humans some animals worshiped the sun?
  Just when I thought the moment had passed and the world was gloaming into it's second and obscurer cycle, the Indian night had yet another sensual trick up it's sleeve.
  Blown on a soft warm wind came a voice that reverberated through the air. It was a chant that seemed to seep right through me, washing over the city, the different pitches acting like layers. One continuous sound, but reaching the ear as if bits of the song had detached themselves from the main flow, each carried on a different wind to serenade the ear symphonically. Then other voices joined themselves to this beautiful yet eerie incantation and a language became apparent to the noise. It was the Arabic call to prayer; the muezzin.
  If you've ever heard it, then you know what it's like the first time you hear it. Now try and imagine it after the sight of the setting sun, on a rooftop. The crows fly off to roost and your left on your own again, you know that the moments of serenity you stole from the normal chaos and racket of India will soon be overthrown. But the muezzin continues, preserving the moment with it's ancient magic.
  I turned around and stood to face that music coming  from the East. Closed my eyes and stretched my arms wide, as if I could absorb some of the energy seemingly pulsing through the air. I stood there until I had sucked up the last sounds of the Arabian night.
  When I opened my eyes, nothing could have prepared me for the sight I saw. In the now Dark sky, hundreds of pitch black shapes, growing bigger by the second rapidly advanced on my now not so impressive vantage point. This nightmarish invasion was soon passing over my head however, leaving me in awe. I'd rarely seen such a wide wing span in my life, on par with a vulture's I think. They drew a shape in the sky known to any child who has ever experienced Halloween.
Yup, India's vegetarian Dracula, the Fruit Bat.

  Sadly my camera isn't very well equipped for the night so I wasn't able to catch this on photo but if you like sunset-sunrise then there will most definitely be more of those.
  Now, as is the way, the novelty of this experience is wearing off but what won't be lost is the knowledge that where ever you are in the world you can still feel and share the magic of the daily see-saw battles between the forces of light and dark.


Friday, November 9, 2012

A sensual storm

  Stepping off the plane was like walking into a hurricane, sensually I mean; It was night but still at least 30 degrees, a hot condensed air that seems almost tangible for the weight it has upon you. Then the smell, it wasn't particularly bad, just particular. Even today I can't describe the smell of India, it's a mixture of such intense smells; spices, sweat, fumes, flowers, smoke... What I can say is that the intensity takes your breath away and that I imagine you either love it or hate it. Then again they say that is the way of India.
The overriding fusion of sound, smell, color and humid heat is what marks ones first steps in India. If you think this changes with time as is generally the case once we are accustomed to something, you'd be wrong. No, one comes to think of the bustle and noise as the ordinary but it never dulls down in fact for the most part it intensifies as if to reach the ears of the very gods which mark nearly every day of the year with another celebration. Holidays are far from rare here and food is of the utmost importance.
For the minute, I'm a lover!

  First things first, leave the comparisons of the West behind. I'm in a different country now, another continent, a whole new world. It's a difficult feat because as humans we're constantly comparing one experience to another. Even in school we're taught to back our ideas and explanations with examples and antagonists. Points of reference to aide comprehension. The only thing we can not compare/remember it seems are emotions.
  Well to be able to appreciate India to the full I know I have to be able to see it through a new set of eyes, their eyes. The melting pot of cultures and religions that course their way through the inhabitants of this peaceful country is the very definition of understanding. Of course there is segregation,  probably more profound then any where else in the world between the rich and poor, a continuous proof of the non forgotten caste system. I'm not saying they're particularly unscrupulous either, which questions their honesty, but then again money often does that.  Be that as it may the Indians seem to live happily, at peace, the indifference of difference that reunites them in their cohabitation. Where else in the world are there over 300 religions and 2000 dialects in the same country?!

Anyway I may have to come back to this speculation after having seen all there is to see. Well that's essentially impossible, but after having a more profound and traveled understanding.
From now though, I'm to be an Indian. Work starts on Monday, I'm to live one kind of the many sorts of lives lead out here. Every day will bring something new, that is moto of my travel.
Carpediem all the way!


  A great experience awaits me, has indeed begun already, for even if I have not arrived at my final destination; I left home, sunny South-West France, 4 days ago and said my last goodbyes yesterday in London. As I write this I can't help thinking what the future may bring and my impact on molding it.
  There is only my adventure now, an all inspiring and promising future, for as long as I can make it shine. Well I say inspiring, there will always be the duller moments and I don't expect it to be trouble free. No, my view is that the duller moments give us bearing to define the more exciting ones and as for the troubles, everybody knows how much satisfaction and growth one gets from the over coming of them.
  Right now is an anything but inspiring 6hr transitional low in Mumbai airport. It could be a lot worse actually, it always can be, I'm sat in quite a comfortable armchair in a huge sparse hall of metal and glass where the seats are separated by luscious plant pots and palm trees and with air com to boot. Shouldn't be complaining really.. but then again I'd be neglecting mankind's greatest talent if I didn't.
  Speaking of complaints, why is travelling always such a bore?! I never manage to sleep on flights and travelling isn't what it used to be (haha I sound so old!) No but seriously, nowadays everybody is plugged into something or another and nobody just wants to have an old fashioned non gagetal enhanced conversation! I used to love sitting next to randomers and chatting for hours about meaningless subjects. Some times you met really interesting people as well or got to do that "I don't know you so I can tell you anything" type conversation and get a load of your chest as reward. I like talking to strangers, you always end up learning something even if it is what Not like to be.
  Anyway I'm just setting the seen, what with having spent a completely sleepless 9hr flight, on all sorts of pain killers and wearing my extremely tight, hence very sexy DVT tights. Which flattering as they may have been to my calf's, still uncomfortably restricting for the rest of me and I had to continuously do the same monotonous walk once an hour to get the blood circulating to my foot and swollen ankle. Oh, just in case your not a member of my family or friend checking my online "dear diary", I'm on my way to India with a 9 stitch gash on the outside of my ankle from where I've just had my, last life's lessons', pins and plates taken out.

  If the idea of a still open wound in a country which, let's face it, isn't winning prizes for it's limpid streets, cleansed living and non-polluted air comes over as being worrying, your wrong. I'm not even troubled by the idea that it might get infected! Know why? Because OCD clean France beat India to it! If having a professional nurse come every day to change the dressing and washing with antiseptic shower gel can't keep infection at bay, I don't know what can.

  Yet here I stand, 4 days later a mere 6616km from home, on antibiotics. My gammy leg soon to be introduced to the kind Indian family, who I've never met before, that are having my arien looking self and my "hope not soon to be amputated leg" to stay for at least 3 months. My Visa allows me 6 in all but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it, I've been told New Zealand is a beautiful place in the the summer, not to mention Thailand...

I'm waiting on the last stint of "this" journey, my primary destination: Kolkata, East Bengal. The Son,who's only a couple of years younger then me, and driver shall be picking me up at the airport. I'm not worried about them spotting me, the unmissable blond beacon that I am.

I just want to get there now.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Up to date

So although I accepted making this blog if I don't write in it it's no use to anyone!
I've been away for a month already so I've got a lot of catching up to do on bringing it up to date.
I'll be writing as if the event just happened so don't give importance to the titled time and date. I'll say one thing though my trip has already outdone my expectations, I just hope that I can translate and image the same emotions and interests I felt at the time.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Another'S Eye

My eye to be precise. 
My perspective and life I lead, the paths I tread and people I meet. My opinions, questions and thoughts. 
As I officially abandon childhood dependencies and known comfort zones, I set off on an adventure, an experience and opportunity to the other side of the world.
Here I share my story, through the most daily and common occurrences to the exciting and extraordinary.

A mother's wish:
I didn't come up with the idea to this subjective and egocentric collection of experiences all by myself. No, as my organisational and home-going communicative skills are far from exemplary, my mum, worried that she would not talk to me until Christmas (if she was lucky), forced the idea of a blog upon me. After being very dismissive about releasing my personal accounts for the scrutiny and analysis of others I decided that I wouldn't be the first to get naked on the internet (this is a metaphor gaga) and as well as being the perfect way of giving my news to friends and family, maybe others would benefit from it too.
In my own search of the unknown I hope that you will be able to experience your very own adventure. Albeit through my cultural lens and descriptions you will be able to absorb, relate and imagine these tellings in your own unique way through - another's eye.