.....time to wake up mark! travel blog

Data in taxi. what......a babe.

Spray-painted street goats during monsoonage.

Rickshaw guy from behind.

Data and me, last day. Go find your own tots.

The kind of man that we all strive to be.

These guys played cards on the street ALL day, EVERY day....sunrise until...


The special bellhop at hotel wellesley, recipient of my free prize from...

Victoria memorial, Kolkata.

Look what grows wild in Siliguri!

Okie doke so im back in Kalimpong now. Feels nice to be out of that stinky heat. The best way to describe the heat after Charmaine left is that it was like breathing in steam......very polluted steam....so polluted that one could not even get sunburned through the cloud of car fumes and garbage fire smokes. I sent out a few postcards and described it the same way in those.....so don't think I'm being repetitive.

My last few days in Kolkata were quite eventful.

I went to see "four brothers" with Arpit.....normally not something that would be suiting to my taste in films, but I actually liked it a lot for some reason. Then I made him come with me to Domino's because I needed it at least once more before leaving, and they gave me a scratch card and I scratched myself a "free garlic cheese toast with next purchase". YES!....so obviously I needed to redeem it, and did so the next evening at the hotel. It's so hard to explain how good it felt to have good pizza.....but damn. OH YA! Earlier that same day.......something relatively funny happened....

I had checked out of our nice place into the same hostel that I stayed in when I was here the first time.....and it was actually really interesting how much nicer I found it this time. I remembered it as such a craphole......while this time I was extremely content to be there. But just because I like switchin it up....I decided to move hotels the next morning. I chose some place called "hotel diplomat"......looked pretty nice on the outside. Well let me say, you should never judge a book by it's cover, so you should never judge a hotel by the way it looks on the outside. I was lead to this teeny weeny little room in the back corner that looked like it just didn't belong there. Im not too picky though, I accepted. I put my stuff down and decided I should probably go out and get some water and poo paper and stuff. I did so, and when I came back to the room, I switched on the lights to see like at least 6 tiny mice scatter to different corners of the room from my bag that they had been rummaging through. I became more than slightly disgusted, and told myself "ok mark, you can do a little better than this."....I was trying to save money, but I realized that you can't really put a price on having a mouse fece-less face. I was outta there in the next five minutes......I still had to pay them 300 rupees which was totally annoying because they said that they turned away many customers in the ½ hour that I was there......bologna! 300 was how much I spent at the hostel the night before! Oh well, I wasn't staying. I then moved to a nicer place called Hotel Wellesley in a different part of town.....still not very nice at all......but no mice, so I was having it. I got my room and the special bellhop brought me in and we had our first special conversation. He hardly spoke any English, but it was cool because he showed no signs of shame or struggle, he just talked. After he left, I was feeling pretty shweaty from before, so I decided to have a nice cold shower. I proceeded to open my bag and when I put my hand in to grab my wash kit, out jump TWO little mice and they crawled up my arm and disappeared before I could have any idea which part of the room to be afraid of. They had followed me from one hotel to the other!....Turns out they were after a bag of chips I had in my bag, which when I frantically POURED all the contents all over the floor, I noticed had been ripped to shreds and scattered all over my clothes. EWWW. Ive seen some pretty nasty things since Ive been here and actually most of the time pride myself in being able to bypass the nastiness......but mice are SICK......uithuia buuuuggghghdf. So I slept that night in my mosquitoe net which I fastened securely from all sides. I never saw the mice again......but my my......take my advice, and never stay at the hotel diplomat.

Next day I slept in nicely and woke up in the mood for a nice city stroll. Went out and bought some postcards and got some lunch and I was back in my hotel room writing postcards before long because it was so hot. Then I got another call from Uma inviting me to another movie. I was game.....the cinemas have AC......I was to meet her there, the place is about 45 minute cab ride from where I was so I pushed off quite quickly. Hopped in the cab, the guy said 50 rupees, shortened him and we agreed on 35....he was nice....and spoke good English......bigger guy with bags under his eyes...and for some reason I noted that he was wearing a black t-shirt with no collar. I got to the cinema in good time and met uma, but when it was time to pay...I felt around and realized that I didn't have my wallet. Not cool. I had left it in the cab. Even less cool. Kolkata is definitely not a good city to leave one's wallet in a taxi in......There was basically no hope......I was pretty far from the hotel and it was mid day.......thousands of clone-like taxis EVERYWHERE......I borrowed some money from Uma and decided it would probably be best to go back to where I caught the cab, as there was a good chance that it was his regular spot and he'd end up coming back some time soon. I hopped in another taxi and for the entire ride back, I examined every single yellow taxi that passed us.....searching for the big man with the black t shirt and the tired eyes....I didn't really know what I was gonna do if I saw him.......but it would have been something. I never did. Got back to Sudder street and started looking for the guy....Nowhere to be found. I walked from one end of the street to the other 4 times in a row.......on the last browse, I passed by the place that Charmaine and I stayed and our favourite bellhop, who we tipped rather generously a few days before, was happy to see me and became very distressed when he found out I had lost my wallet. Within 30 seconds.....there was a crew of 20 taxi drivers asking me for descriptions of the driver....all of them saying they knew him, or they didn't know him, or that he was coming back soon, or that he wouldn't be back because this wasn't his regular spot. I was getting really confused and was starting to realize that these guys were mainly just helping me because they wanted tippage when I found my wallet. I made the decision to go and phone home and ask my parents to prepare to cancel my credit card....about 2 hours had passed since I had last seen my wallet and I was really starting to lose hope......So I went and called and just as I ended the phone conversation.....in barged one my helpers saying "he back he back!"....I jumped up exuberantly and ran out the door, forgetting that I had to pay for my phonecall.....I saw the guy standing there with my wallet in his hand and a big smile on his face......as I was grabbed from behind by the phone booth guy because I had stolen a phone call. That was no sweat, but he definitely didn't think it was funny....It probably happens a lot to him. I paid the phone guy with my leftover uma money and went to claim my wallet. Everything was still there. I knew he was a good guy! I'm so thankful for the good people I've met on this trip who've saved my ass from so many sucky situations. I gave him a huge tip for his honesty and then used him for my ride to hotel Wellesley where I later ordered my Domino's and complimentary garlic cheese toast.....mmmmm.....just chilled out that night and watched some HBO movies. Had a tougher time sleeping for some reason and before I knew it, the sun started coming up......I was lying there, finally feeling tired enough to sleep deeply, but having no idea what time it actually was.....I guess probably about 8:30 or something by the amount of light outside......when my phone rang again....it was uma. "good morning mark! Would you like to come with me for my morning walk?".....i thought "why not?....im just lying here" I asked her what time it was and she told me it was 5:15.......I freaked out a little......and then went and met her on park street at about 5:40......we went to Victoria memorial where there was zillions of people walking and jogging and doing yoga all over the grounds....it really is the best time of day to beat the heat and exercise here I guess....but JEEZ it was so early. It was a nice walk and then we went back to Tollygunge club for a swim, where I was advised to buy some different swimming attire because I would look funny in my regular swimming shorts. She hands me these tiny little speedo-shorts that were blue and red with big yellow stripes on the front......tight, but not tight enough to keep anything in its place.....I felt very uncomfortable walking out onto the pool deck as the only foreigner.....with my skinny white legs and this funny-as-hell swimming brief to flaunt. I got into the water and Uma says "yes, good, you would have definitely looked silly in what you were wearing"....in all seriousness. I was wearing the standard. I think they'll make a good humor piece for when I come home. We had our swim and then some nice rich-people breakfast, which was nice as well. I decided I wanted to check out of my hotel and catch an overnight bus back to siliguri that evening, so I was brought back to my hotel from where I proceeded to buy my bus ticket for a bus that was set to depart at 6:30......it was about noon and I had some time to kill, when my phone rang again. It was uma, again. The cellular world here is so funny.....people call every 5 seconds (OOOH SIDE STORY....so that dude I met on the train who was studying to be an optometrist...sagar.....seemed really nice, asked me for my number so I gave it to him.........big mistake.....he called me every 5 seconds for the entire time charmaine was here. I picked up the first time, but never again......it was really annoying. Then one morning I got a text message from him reading "sharp is ur memory, sweet is ur name, deep in my heart you will always remain. Earth wants water, flower wants dew, I want nothing but a smile from you....." My first male stalker....wow. Totally creeped me out...the calls have slowed down, but even now, two weeks later, after no reply, I still have his number showing up on my phone....") Anyways, Uma calls a lot......also just because she's a gap lady and likes hanging out with young people. She made a lunch offer and also said she would keep my bag so I didn't have to carry it around all day which was nice. And lunch was my choice. I chose pizza hut, OBVIOUSLY! We ordered "treat for 4" between two of us......she ate as much for 1.....which left me with 2 medium pizzas and garlic bread. I ate one pizza and decided to save the other one for the bus ride later, which was the best idea ever.

Time passed and it was time to catch the bus. I paid a little more for a nice bus with AC and a tv and reclining seats.......all of which decided to work against me during my 13 hour ride. I was in seat 10A, a window seat, second from the back. The tiny lady in front of me instantly reclined her seat back fully....and they don't have a stopping point. She was basically lying in my crotch and I could see in great detail, the drool dripping from the side of her mouth. The guy behind me was absolutely massive, and being in the very back seat, he had no reclining option.....so I just couldn't put my seat back....I would have felt too bad for him and worried that he might do something to my face, or I dunno.......and then the guy beside me not only snored, but looked like the most comfortable guy in the entire bus because he was fully reclined, had a nice blanket, one leg in the aisle, and his other leg stretched out into my side of the bench. Probably the most uncomfortable ride I have ever had to endure, but then when my hunger came.......it instantly became the best ride ever as my pizza was right there waiting for me. But that only lasted for so long......then I was back to just being cramped, but this time I was full. I went from being nearly vomitous, to being extremely tired and almost sleeping on the face of the lady who was sleeping in my lap. Above all of that......the AC was WAAAYYY too cold and I had no blankets. So ironically, the features that I paid twice as much for were what got me in the end. Oh ya and the TV bit me in the bum because it was a hindi movie, I couldn't see it or hear it, and the reason the lady in front of me was leaning back was because she didn't like the content of the movie. Funny how that works. Oh well. It was still a nice journey. I got to Siliguri early in the morning and was ready to catch my ride home. I ended up hopping on a truck for free that was delivering various packages to Kalimpong such as rice and mail and some furniture, and had an awesome nap and before I knew it was back and it felt like I had never left. Strange feeling to come back to Kalimpong in the Himalayas and have it feel like home. Love it.

Bye bye love mark.

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