Thursday, December 20, 2007

Kolkata redux

Since we couldn't get internet access on our last day in Kolkata, I thought I'd post about it while my memory is still functional! We had a low key morning, eating at the hotel, and letting Anya Rashi nap on the bed.

In the afternoon, we decided to walk a few blocks to St. Paul's Cathedral, where a seasonal surprise awaited us: we discovered people setting up a life-size Nativity scene outside the cathedral. It was breathtaking, with palm trees, gorgeous fabric costumes on the wise men, life-sized camels, and a man applying dark black hair to the infant Jesus' head!

We were moved to see how universal the Gospel message is. All the members of the holy family were brown-skinned with black hair, reminding us that the birth of Jesus brings hope to all people, all nations.

After seeing the inside of this beautiful cathedral, we headed back to the hotel, stopping at an indoor shopping center to purchase some Bengali music for Anya Rashi and the boys. Ironically, the place was called "The Air-Conditioned Market" -- but it was approximately 90 degrees inside! We were the only ones in short sleeves, and the only ones sweating. :o)

While I stayed with Anya Rashi for her nap, Alicia and Peter ventured out to the Kali Temple. There were lots of people crammed into a small space. The temple feeds over 2,000 impoverished people twice daily (but the temple is not open for visitors during the mealtimes). In return for their donation to the food program, Alicia and Peter were given tokens of incense, red thread bracelets, and an orange dot on their foreheads.

After they returned, we began packing up. We had to leave the hotel at 1:30 a.m. to go to the airport for our 5:00 a.m. flight to London. Our plans for a 4-hour nap were foiled, though, by a really interesting cultural event happening right outside our window. A family had rented the hotel's courtyard for a ceremony celebrating their baby son's first solid food.

It was a very elaborate party, with over 400 guests, hotel catering, a DJ playing Indian music, complete with live video feed of people entering the party and baby Vivaan eating his first rice. There were even balloons with Batman and Spiderman on them! The courtyard was decorated, and the women were dressed in splendid sarees. Anya Rashi slept right through all the excitement!

At breakfast and dinner, the hotel staff always came to check on Anya Rashi. One particular waiter was very fond of her, and Anya was fascinated by him. He had very thick glasses that made his eyes look really animated, and he was so very kind. He asked if he could stop by our room that evening to say goodbye to her -- it was so sweet. Everyone at the hotel was so warm and accommodating. We highly recommend the Kenilworth to anyone staying in Kolkata.

With that, we were ready to head home.


Todd and Michele said...

I really love all your detail. Unless I missed, what hotel in Kolkata did you stay at. Sounds a lot like the Kenilworth.


Anne said...

Why don't you keep this blog going for the rest of your life. I'm addicted.