|Breakfast today is included in our room charge and is a pleasant change. We get porridge, tea, toast and jam, just like home, almost. After breakfast I got the chance to arrange to keep our room until 8.30pm. Our train to Darjeeling leaves at 10pm so we will be able to have a day to see a few sights and then relax and clean up before going to the station.
Mother Theresa's House was the main place that I wanted to visit. Her tomb is inside the house and they have kept her room just as it was when she lived there. It turned out to be a very moving experience to see all the evidence of what one small woman had achieved and yet it is only a drop in the ocean when you see the poor people of Kolkata today. How India will ever solve the problem of poverty is beyond me, it is just mind numbing to think of it. So many people and the numbers are increasing so fast.
We spent some time at the house along with a steady stream of visitors. The nuns also have a children's centre and a leprosy care centre in other locations in Kolkata. Their work is inspirational and her legacy lives on.
Returning to the reality of Kolkata we made our way back to the Apple iStore to sort out a couple of questions regarding our iPads. I now know how to reduce the file size of photos that I email. Then, for a change, we tried lunch at a KFC restaurant. Chicken for me and veggie burger for Roger. Not such good value as McDs.
The afternoon was spent wandering around Kolkata again. Our highlights were the three ancient fire engines that we saw chasing round the streets plus the large bus station we stumbled on. We took the easy way out to get back to the guest house and hired a rickshaw. The most uncomfortable ride so far as the seat was a bit too narrow for the two of us. The poor fellow did well to ,pull us through the back streets in the heat of the afternoon.
Time for a shower and another session on the internet before our 7.30pm dinner. A non spicy dinner with boiled rice, veggies and some chicken for us non-vegetarians plus an ice cream for dessert. We were joined at the table by a local Kolkatan man who introduced himself as Pastor Paul. He was there helping to organise a conference. We are so fortunate that most people speak English as we still only have two words of Hindi, Namaste and Names ca which we take to both be a term of greeting.
Dinner over it was time to pack and make our way to the station. We had decided to take a tram from outside the guest house but we waited fifteen minutes without seeing one so started walking. We tried to get a rickshaw but it looks like they are not allowed on the main roads so we carried on walking. We got to the station without seeing one tram going in our direction.
The station was chaotic as normal but we did locate our platform eventually and for a change the train was actually standing there waiting. It came in about 9.15pm and again it was about twenty carriages long. We didn't know where on the train the first class carriage would be but according to the illuminated board there was an H1 and an A1 carriage part way down the train. At least at this station they also had overhead signs to show where each carriage would stop. I chose the H1 sign and headed along the platform to that location.
Coming back down the platform in the opposite direction was a crowd of men heading to the back carriages of the train. There were several men in uniform, who I took to be soldiers, organising them into a line along the platform ready to board. I managed to get to the H1 carriage just as the guard pasted the accommodation list on the side of the train and as luck would have it our names were there in cabin B and it looked like we were going to be the only occupants.
I turned to look for Roger in the crowd and spotted him walking away from me on the other side of the line of men. I shouted and waved to him but he is a bit deaf and didn't hear or see me and I couldn't get through the crowd. So I boarded and stowed my bags and stood at the carriage door until Roger came back along the train. As it turned out we were not to be alone in the carriage. Two Americans, a man and a woman, had made a late upgrade to AC1 & were moved into the cabin with us. They both turned out to be captains in the US army which gave us plenty to talk about with them.
They were tired having only just flown in from Bangkok and so it wasn't long after the train left that we all retired to our bunks. Fortunately we had been allocated the bottom bunks again and any way they were both relative youngsters.