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05/14/2013

Hunting for Nutella in Kolkata...

The first thing we did when arriving in Kolkata was to jump into a taxi and go eat rolls (the paratha roll with chicken and eggs is a local speciality) at Zeeshan at Park Circus. 

This is how we got to think of a Nutella paratha roll... An idea that wouldn’t just pass!! 

We therefore started our way back to the hotel walking and hunting for Nutella. 

 

The guy from the first stall had some! But when he asked me if I wanted india,kolkata,nutella,roll,zeeshanit in seeds or powder, I got confused... Indeed, he wanted to sell me some Nutrela (some kind of soya derivative)! 

 

The guy from the second shop had some Ferrero rochers and Kinder buenos. I could bet everything on him!  

Since he didn’t understand Nutella, I tried "chocolate paste" and his face lit up! And he handed over a tube of Colgate... (from paste he had come up with tooth paste!).

 

The guys from the third, fourth and fifth stalls did not have Nutella nor knew what it was, even in the touristic neighborhood. We therefore concluded that Nutella had not yet reached Kolkata – whether it is a good or a bad thing is not the question...  

 

So we thought of buying some chocolate and wondered how it would melt. And then we looked at each other, soaked with sweat and it hit us!! Two minutes in the ambient heat of the night and we had a chocolate spread!

05/10/2013

A trip in Sundarban

 But let me tell you a little more about my trip in the heart of the Bengali furnace... 

 

Sundarbans, West Bengal - May 2013

 

Apart from the overwhelming heat and the near-absence of wild animals (we just saw some deers, lizards, monkeys, snakes and birds), we could appreciate the Indian countryside, one of my old dreams!

 

The advantage of coming in May in Sundarban is that there are no Indian tourists – and apparently they come in herds when the weather conditions are more favourable. And observing wild animals with Indians, that silence bothers viscerally, it's not fun! 

 

The disadvantage of coming in May is that the local people hurry to celebrate the last weddings and therefore there are gigantic speakers (plugged to generators) in each village which blast Bollywood music (when it is not an old scratched and sizzling DVD). Being greeted like that after a very long trip to cross India for a “nature” stay, I swear if the heat had not left me KO, I think that I'd go and yell... At the same time in my daily life I can't do without music so if these speakers brighten up their life, how could I say anything? 

 

With all that, I enjoyed the simple menu of rice, chapatis, dal and vegetables – even if at the end of the 6th meal I started to feel some deficiencies... It also kinda annoyed me responding every day to the same questions of the new backpackers “and do you like working in India?”, “and how long you plan on staying?”, “when have you realised that you wanted to stay?” etc. And I've hated the local rice alcohol which has a horrible taste and almost no alcohol! 

 

But above all I loved the tours in the boat operated by a fisherman in the heart of the mangrove, with roots and branches everywhere. I had to fight to get the second session, which was not in the programme, but I can be quite persuasive ;) 

 

I loved the two hour walk in the village. I got transported somewhere else: perfect sand and cobblestones paths, naked children running after goats, women going to the well, old ladies walking topless, youngsters cycling, girls swimming in the ponds, courtyard of the cob houses full of animals, thatched roofs almost all equipped with solar panels. Almost no garbage lying around. Amazing colours with the sunset. Almost too picturesque to be true... 

 

I loved watching the stars at the night, lying on the ground, with a small breeze, and folk musicians playing... 

 

And I loved basking in the sun all day!

And listen the stories of tigers who eat up humans (40 every year), and fishermen or honey collectors (the villagers who are allowed one month per year to sink into the forest to collect honey) who survived. 

 

I imagine that the Sundarban (meaning the beautiful forest, or the beautiful jungle) looks very different after the rain, when the paddy field are green and the temperatures bearable. Nevertheless, I needed badly a change of air and scene, and I got it!!

 

A great trip!

 

 

india,west bengal,sundarban,jungle,tiger,safari,ecovillage

india,west bengal,sundarban,jungle,tiger,safari,ecovillage 

05/08/2013

The dirty Frenchies exploring Sundarban…

 Here is an interesting angle to tell about my trip to Sundarban...

Departure from Kolkata at 8:30 in the morning for a 3 hour ride in a van falling into pieces. Thighs glued by the sweat to the fake leather seat. No need to complain; better to just try and avoid fainting by swallowing gallons of water. 

 

We arrive at the pier to embark on a motor boat that a guy is vigorously bailing out. It is midday, not a shadow of shadow, and the “cruise” is not ending – an hour and a half by 40 degrees seems to last much longer...

We finally get down on our island, where the eco-village is set up. Hell and damnation, there is network!! I do as planned (be without a phone for 4 days) and switch off my Blackberry as if there was no network: I'm on holidays!

On our left, a kind of big pond of brownish water in which a water buffalo is chilling. And in which we are invited to jump... Since we are not sure whether this is a joke, we first go and drop our stuff in the room. And, to my surprise (and I daresay even relief, since I had opted for “roots” holiday (without electricity)), there is a fan – so I won't die of heat! 

I enter the dark bathroom to discover that...

 

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