India – Part 2 Kolkata Day 2

Finally I get to upload this post. It has been sitting in here for a few days!


Thursday, December 1, is my last day in Kolkata and the last day – for this trip – to India with two school visits, one university lecture, one coffee shop stop and then a trip to the airport.

These school visits have been so thrilling. I am constantly amazed at the buzz that surrounds my arrival at the school – and then the reception I receive entering the auditoriums. I absolutely that my website must have had a huge increase in hits …. there are facts that some of the people are reading about me that are only uncovered if one has read deep into the pages. It is also really special when the students come to the front after my talks with them and offer their thanks. Some are prepared speeches while others are more free flowing. They are formal, always addressing me as Sir, or Mr Christopher Cheng, and once Mr Chris. These students ad the teachers too were like sponges, absorbing it all. In all schools the students have been told I am from Australia and so have been chasing down information about Australia, our animals and places so when it came time for me to give a quick quiz session the answers were flying thick and fast. I did have to ask some of the students to repeat answers or slow down a little so that I could decipher their answers through their thick cents – but this was way much easier today!

At Ballygunj Sikasha Sadan School and then The Modern High School for Girls (amazing names for some of the schools, and I did notice a Modern High School for Boys too) each seemed to me to be an oasis in a sea of craziness, they are calm retreats from what goes on outside the walls. You could hear the car horns blaring in some of the rooms … but not as intensely as outside. The schools were also clean which was such a change from the Kolkata outside those walls. The whole city of Kolkata needs a good hit with the steam cleaning machine. There were flowers and lovingly decorated walls. In all of the schools too they are extremely proud of their achievements – especially those awarded for scholastic studies (which I guess is no less the same in most schools. It just seems more amplified here). Always too I am taken to the Principal’s Office for tea and refreshments (Bengal treats are extremely, extremely, extremely sweet). At Ballygunj School I was given a gift (as often happened in the schools) of a hand crafted mirror, wrapped in handcrafted paper. I love these gifts. The staff are very proud that the girls all do weekly handcraft sessions – and I was thrilled to unwrap the present. Now the fun will be getting it back into Australia. And it matters not what age the students (even those in university) are. They all love SOUNDS SPOOKY and join in and giggle and get spooked in the right places.

morning exercises – with Bamboo cane?


chatting to students

more student chatting
Again another university and the hallways were dark and cold, the rooms were old and dull, certainly not the luxury that students here or in other western universities are used to. I guess at least today I wasn’t bouncing up and down on a very old podium. Today’s lecture was not what i expected. it was part f a refresher course for teachers – in 19th century literature, which wasn’t that hard for me to talk about – that part lasted all of 3 minutes then i moved on to todays current trends in Australian Children’s Literature and what is happening on our scene … which many seemed to lap up! This photo below looks like the hallway is really well lit – but it wasn’t. It was dark and dingy. Bulletin boards were those we hear from early last century and floors are well worn. Still it was a wonderful experience and my presentation was delivered in a well equipped room complete with microphones, swivel chairs, huge new tables and projection facilities. They were extremely proud of the room. 

Univ of Calcutta hallway

To get to the university our driver had to drop us across the road – there was ANOTHER protest march going on!
protest march
And here is where you buy your text books. I quickly gazed at some of the stalls … they are all subject specific too.  
text books for sale
Right across the road from the University is the Indian Coffee House. tThis is THE place where the Kolkata literatti have hung for eons. I was told, very proudly by one of the students who accompanied us here the history and some of teh great writers who have created inside these walls … and supped on the coffee. I snapped this internal photo below and was hoping to get one of the waiters with their ornate and rather decorative fluted hats but missed that one. There was so much smoking going on inside that my look in was only brief. interestingly lots of teh smloking was around the uni – there seemd to be less so elsewhere … and tehy have some rather interesting smelling cigarettes. 

The names says it all

inside – so English
Asha with camera snapped me walking the streets outside the coffee house.

And now – to the airport and home!

One Response to India – Part 2 Kolkata Day 2

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    bestpmchennai January 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm Reply

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