So Monday is a rather full day in Kolkata visiting three schools. It seems like we were taking a leisurely breakfast in the hotel moments ago and instead we have zipped around to three schools, dined for lunch in a principal’s office, got lost in the car a few times (with a driver who is supposed to know his way around town), been man-handled on the streets of Kolkata (both of us!), sat in the hotel lobby to do a media interview as well as being photographed for the Times at a school, and did a tad of shopping on the street for saris in the most crackers and crazy night street market that I have ever seen which is right outside our hotel!
So to schools: this has been amazingly interesting. Two very old and presitgious schools in the morning La Martiniere For Boys followed by a session at the The Calcutta Boys’ School. Then the afternoon was a quick drive out to the Heritage School which would have to be one of the most wonderful schools that I have ever stepped inside (and where they serve a wicked, scrummy lunch). The school grounds are beautifully maintained and the pathway is lined with rich marigolds in terracotta pots. The staff are really caring and warm, the students are loving and adorable (even the big kids) and the grounds, in the midst of chaotic and messy Kolkata, are a haven. After arriving at Heritage it was straight to the Principal’s office and an absolutely deliciously wonderful lunch (I can think of much worse things to be sent to the Principal’s Office for and a sure fire way of getting me involved). This was the same as the lunch eaten by the students. More lovely curries! The staff are also very proud of their school which was obvious as we were escorted around to see some of the cultural activity rooms before being plonked in the hall – whereupon 1000 kids started arriving – with the utmost respect and care and with much excitement. Students were sitting on the floor in the hall and there was also a selected group on stage. This was a targetted group of students from the writing and literature classes who had well thought-out prepared questions. I was escorted onto the stage and to my chair and then listened to the most glowing of words about me – they had scanned my website extremely well extracting lots of bits and pieces. Then it was time to sign the school copy of my book Python (Walker had sent along copies to the High Commission). My presenting back the signed copy was accompanied by rapturous applause before it was my turn to talk. As I am not one for staying still I quickly proceeded to move around off the stage and around the throng of kids in the hall from the front to the back and down the sides as well. This was superb fun interacting with the students. A reporter was also there from the Times. They interviewed me on my last trip to India so this time they wanted to get photos of me in action. Can’t wait to see those!
Down with the kids
Then it was back to the hotel for a rest before an interview with another reporter from the Asian Age in the hotel lobby …
and then it was time to experience a night market in Kolkata – part of which is right outside the hotel gates! This was totally chaotic and totally crazy and totally congested – at least for the first part of our walk along the street! And I must admit I was rather apprehensive on the stroll around. It was noisy and there was a lot of bumping and touching and getting very very close! But a little later a different crowd of people were in the market – more of the folks coming ‘home for work’, so things seemed to be much more settled. Some of the goods in the market were obviously not destined for the trade stores as they were not quite right but other pieces like the saris – well suffice to say a few are destined for my luggage.
More on the Carolinas later but Pam Vaughan (official photographer for the New England conference last weekend) has just sent me oodles and poodles of photos … so if you don’t want to see piccies of me in action – then look away now! There are photos of me with friends, of me panelling, photos […]