21st June.

Happy birthday dear brother number 2, Keith.  Have a good one.  Hope it's with family, that you do a bit of square dancing, tell a few tall stories as bush poets do and perhaps play some music.  We are thinking of you! xo

We had a lovely breakfast today, omelet with toast, and a plate of red pawpaw each.

We met the other homestay tenants, a lovely Kiwi couple, she of the couple who is principal of a kindergarten in Shanghai running under an Italian system, ? Reggiano (will have to look it up) . sounds very progressive.  They sent her to Italy for 10 days last year for training.

Later, after finding that the palace we were going to visit would be closed today and Mondays, we went wandering out to find Mother Theresa's burial place.  Not far from here, we walked through markets and markets.  Fascinating because some people were selling from tiny holes i the wall type of place and squatting on the counter because that was the only space for them.

We found Mother's House (that's how people know the place).  What an amazing person.  Only ever was motivated by love for mankind. She was there for everybody.  Seemed to have no ego. Made us think of ourselves as being spoilt and selfish.
From such humble beginnings she became one of the most well known people, influential and beloved by hundreds of thousands, honoured many times for her contribution to namkind and dedicated all the honours to the lost, uncared for, homeless people in the world and by so doing they became recognised and were given a voice.

Later on our wanderings a man accompanied us through the streets and acted as a guide.  He said he was off to a village teaching cooking to homeless children, staying overnight with them and providing a birthday cake etc for one of the youth there.  He showed us some good eating place, extolled the Government for providing training for many homeless children who came as refugees, explained how many of the homeless used to live but because of the care of the government there were now very few beggars, homeless.  (actually there are definitely very few beggars around. I'm sure I remember many when I was here years ago.) . Finally he took us to a fine building with a restaurant

for veges on the first floor, asking for a donation for his/their project (run by Christians).  Craig gave him 50 rupees and he disappeared.  Was he authentic?  We think he was but who knows.

Sweeeny Todd Indian style.
Perched on the serving counter, he was wrapping sweets.
He wanted their photo taken.

Resting between jobs.
Trams are here.

Hearse deluxe level.

These are out of order but if you start here and go up you can more or less follow the process of making the hot chicken roll for 50 rupees ($1).  Toorrow I'm going to try one.  This stall claimed to be a leader in making in various rolls.  They were gret to watch.
Taking a rest.  When I took the photo it drew the attention of some passersby to the feet and we all had a good laugh.
Unfortunately I think this will be the trend into the future. Even though there is a lot of cleaning up to be done in the city it doesn't warrant the usual knock down everything and build characterless buildings as they are doing the world over.  This city has lots of amazing buildings left over from various epochs.  It has something, je ne sais quoi!
Playing these pipes and selling them too.  A good advertisement.
Having a well earned rest!
These fellows were making tea I think.  In any case they were in the basement to the first floor above!!!
A lovely wall with plants along it and in the distance a set of stairs to a house.
John!  See below!!!

Tea cups.  The original throwaway clay version. 
 Tea making process.  Usually delicious and sweet with some spiciness.
 Snip! Snip!
 Here's one for you John, our knife sharpening friend in Seymour.  You could be getting more exercise if you sharpened on the go!!

It was ok but not enough.  Restaurant belonging to Hotel Heaven in Bose street.
 From now on we're going to eat street food.  It's much tastier(not always true) and it's much cheaper!!
 M T' s dwelling was not open on Thursdays but these are the stairs leading to it.  Pictures of it show it to be very simple, austere eve.
 Mother Theresa's tomb.

 Lots of schools in this area as well as the church where M T taught before she began ministering in the streets of Calcutta of the day.
 If you look closely you can see the white underclothing on the washing line to the upper right of the pic.  I think this laundry is linked to the nunnery which is just around the corner ahead.
 oh here they are again!

Spent an hour in The Oxford Bookshop.  xoxo

20th June:

Arrived in Kolkata! 

It was a great journey.  28 hours but not boring; sleeping, talking, reading, killer-sudokuing, occasionally eating!  Very smooth and quiet train.  3AC is air-conditioned, 3 tier x 2 plus 2 more berths across the corridor.  There was plenty of room and our luggage fitted under the seats.

Strangely, our main fellow passengers were an Airforce accountant accompanying his sister in law and her little boy back to their home town.
The first time I was in India many moons ago, I travelled with my first child, then about 15 or 16 months old and first husband, from Bangaluru to Agra via Chennai, (then Madras) and we sat protected by an army officer and his wife and baby, from being overcrowded by many who wandered through the carriage.  This Airforce person laughed about that since he would be about the age of that baby grown up.  Just a coincidence. 

The loos were squat type but clean and running water the whole way.  Generally our area of the train was very clean and every couple of hours someone came through sweeping for rubbish and another following with a wet mop.

When we got to Kolkaata there had been a very heavy downpour, (with mighty thunder), which cooled the place thankfully.  It seems it was the first rain of the monsoon season a great time to travel!!

We were a bit confused about taxis and ubers.  My phone wouldn't let me download the app because  daughter in law gave it to me and the phone is still registered with apple with her as owner.  So we lined up in the taxi queue and eventually paid and got a ticket with a car rego on it.  The taxi promptly pulled up and in we got.  Well!!!!!!!

The first part of the ride was without any road markings and it was "he who moves quickest and blows the horn loudest" who made the most headway.  Seemed to be one of the poorer area of this city of 20,000,000.  Went through some markets and past a park and finally made it to Park Street, which was not in fact where our accommodation was.  We went into the Park Hotel and there, there was a very switched on receptionist, (a couple in fact) who managed to get through to our . host and she then directed us to the homestay apartment.  It was quite close and it is quite lovely.  There are 2 guest rooms both with ensuite and everything you could possibly need.  We get breakfast either in our room or at the host's table.  A lovely Indian family in a very central place.  Park Street is the main street of the city.

So we wandered round for a while, getting our phones checked by a voda phone person so that now we have 2 functioning phones, and generally orientating ourselves.

Had a great night's sleep on very firm mattress, just had the fan on and slept the whole night.

Some photos before catching the train, the Corimandal Express and after getting off. love to all. xoxo
 3AC Carriage. 
The 2AC carriage has 4 bunks to the right, whereas we had 6 bunks.  There is a most expensive carriage with just 2 bunks and none on the left and it has doors, lockable!  There is also the sleeper class which is not Air conditioned (AC) and has windows that open (with bars on them)-much cheaper.

 One of the huge rivers we crossed.  Not sure if this was the Krishna river or the one after.

 Our charming friend Raj, who shared his his device with me, chattering away in Hindi about each "movie" which were all in Indian accented English.
 Arrival at Kolkata.

 People settle in for the ight or whatever to wait for their trains.

When we arrived at Central station , Chenai , there was an area which was named for the "Differently Abled, which we thought was more appropriate than Disabled.  Craig has the pic.