Kolkata. Day 1

Kolkata is the closest place to fly from Dhaka outside from Bangladesh. Even so there aren’t many people who do it, because most of the anglos need to apply for Indian visa. Recently India introduced e-visas for many countries (including Russia, woo-hoo!), which makes the life much easier. I got mine in less than 24 hours, maybe because it is low season or maybe they are just so efficient.

Initially I was planning to go with a friend of mine. We went to Malaysia together, but she decided to extend her stay for a couple of days at first, but in the end she ended up quitting her job in Dhaka and stayed on the islands to become a diving instructor.

India doesn’t have a very good image in terms of women’s safety and therefore I was a bit uncertain in the beginning whether it was a good idea to go on my own. In the end I decided to give it a go, expecially considering that my host (through Airbnb) seemed very nice.

First and foremost I should mentioned that the house I stayed at was absolutely gorgeous. It was like in the Indian fairy tail. You can check out the place of the Airbnb’s website and I would definitely recommend it to anybody going to Kolkata.

Interesting things started happening right on the flight to Kolkata. On the of the pieces of paper that I needed to fill out (who knows for what purpose!) it stated clearly that “Maps and litretature where Indian external borders have been shown incorrectly” are prohibited to be imported. I wonder how they deal with historical documents.

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Walking towards Victoria Memorial, Kolkata’s main tourist attractions, I found some other interesting things around

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Here is the Memorial. You would think that it was named after my mother, but no, apparently, it’s after the British Queen pfffff…

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Many beautifully dressed up people taking pictures

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India has the same disease that Russia used to have (and suffers still in some parts), that it is prohibited to take pictures everywhere basically. Luckily for me, I didn’t notice the sign and made a few shots.

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There is a pretty good museum inside about Kolkata’s history with everything written in English, so it was very interesting. But I also liked these embroidered elephants.

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Outside there are renovating it and the guys in orange jackets climbing a white building look pretty cool

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Surprisingly to me, there were many animals in Kolkata. See the squirrel on the tree and a bird just hanging out?

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The entrance to the park and museum for foreigners is 200 rupees and for the locals the entrance to the park is 10 rupees. Right. So many couples come here to chill and some of them even hide under umbrellas! On the picture below there is a couple on every bench!

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Just pretty

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There is also an evening show in the park with light and music, but they have a break in the non-touristy season, so I didn’t get to see it. But music still plays in the part even during the day, which is pretty nice, and here is a hidden loudspeaker.

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Like I said — many animals (and birds)

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Final view

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Outside of the memorial there were dogs, beggars, taxis and an enormous miliraty vehicle

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I took one of these yellow taxis, it is pretty used inside, but the driver had some little statues and decorations

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Monument to Indira Gandhi (took a picture for you, mom!)

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Shopping in India is definitely less of a challenge that in Bangladesh, no surprise Bangladeshis like everything Indian. For example, you can get a saree with busses!

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None of the locals would believe me that I saw cows on one of the main streets, but here they are!

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There are many temples right on the streets and in the morning and in the evening the priests are going from one to another and pray. This is a random temple right around the corner where I lived

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I mentioned already that my hosts were super cool and for dinner they took me out to the Calcutta Swimmin Club. It was build in the 19th century and was used by the British only (of course) until the independence. To become a member one should pay 20 000 euros (right, 20 thousand euros!!!), and then you can use the swimming pool and eat cheaply there for the rest of your live. And the family gets access to it as well.

Parking for the president and past presidents. Pff..

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The food was very good and very affordable. The funny thing was the bill. See this looong sheet? Well, this is our bill for about 8 items.

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This was the day #1 in Kolkata

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Radio star

OMG! OMG! I am becoming a super start while living in Bangladesh!

The other day, when it was a regular working Sunday in Bangladesh, a friend of mine, Seva, a very talented journalist working on one of the top radio stations in Russia, sent me a message asking if I was available to give a comment about biking cultures in Bangladesh and Denmark.

And I was, so I did! My almost 5 minutes of fame on the Russian radio start at 39:00 and until 43:40 (you need to choose a window with Seva on the right)

http://echo.msk.ru/programs/apriscatole/1578810-echo/#mmvideo

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Thank you, Seva, it was lots of fun :)

Like I said, Seva is a very talented journalist, so make sure you listen to his programs from time to time on Echo of Moscow!

Wedding. Last day

Like I said, I don’t really understand the logic of the wedding celebration in Bangladesh yet (it seems also that it varies a lot), but I have visited the final celebration.

First, as usual, getting properly dressed with the help of the local

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And that was the first time I saw the bride! Woo-hoo!

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The most interesting part of the wedding (imho) — looking at the local women

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Bride getting ready (read: family is putting tons of jewellery on the bride so that she could hardly move)

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And… picture taking time! (that will last for hours!!)

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Beautiful henna

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Since the bride has henna and kilograms of jewellery, she cannot eat by herself, therefore her family is helping her out.

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This celebration, unlike the first one, was in a special venue. The food for men and women was served on different floors — ground for men and first for women. The setting from the pictures above was on the first floor.

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Beautiful women

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And guess what? Picture taking continues! On the screen people can see the shots from the previous days (in total, the celebration has been on every day for a week)

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This is us with the bride and the groom. A bit of the context. The absolute majority of the weddings in Bangladesh are arranged and so was this one. The groom has a brother who is married to a girl and the bride is this girl’s cousin. The groom is currently living in Australia and the bride has been living in Bangladesh. A few days before the wedding it the first time when they actually saw each other (if we don’t count skype). The guy is returning to Australia now and the bride will follow him in a few months.

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Happy marriage!

Malaysia. Day 4

And better!

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Malaysia. Day 3

It only gets better

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Find a turtle on the picture below!

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Malaysia. Day 2

From KL we moved to Perhentian islands and it was simply beautiful.

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Malaysia. Day 1

In the beginning of June I traveled to Malaysia, which became my #2 Asian country. The contrast with Bangladesh is increadible. We had only one day in Kuala-Lumpur, which we spent wandering around and shopping.

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Money is very pretty. And some of the notes are plastic too!
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There are many cool graffitis

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Many motocycles

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Classic, as Jade would say

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The street food street looks impressive, but food itself is very average (imho).

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BBQ stall as an example

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Fruits though!! That is something worth mentioning.

The blue one is mangosteen and it is amazing. So is the yellow one, but I don’t remember it’s name.

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Durian is a favourite local fruit, but its smell and taste should definitely be acquired! (I liked it though :))

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Durian is not just sold everywhere, but one can find anything made of it

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Bangladeshi goats

I think it is time for a Bangladeshi goat break!

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Wedding. Day 1

Remember the wedding invitation I showed before? Well, it was real. We got invited to the wedding in a very traditional family that is living in the Old Dhaka.

Bangladeshi wedding consists of at least 3 celebrations, but there can be more. The logic is still not very clear to me, but I’ll just tell/show you what I saw.

Bride and groom have separate celebrations and then also common ceremony.  We were from the groom’s side and got invited to 3 events (only 2 of which I could attend).

This first celebration was a kind of chilled one, where women could wear shalwar kazeer (not necessarely sarees) and there was a concert! Everything started very late though and by late I mean that the concert only started around 10 pm.

We didn’t get to see the bride that day, it was only the groom and his family.

First we were getting ready — asked my local colleague and housekeeper to help us with sarees (I also borrowed the whole outfit from the colleague)

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It was pretty easy to spot the wedding location

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Since we got there pretty ‘early’ (around 8 pm), we were just hanging out meeting the family and taking pictures with everybody

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And wondering around the house where we saw some of the presents being prepared for the bride (sarees, bangles, shoes etc.)

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And got a chance to see how these locals live

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Many people were there after 9 pm, but the decoration guys weren’t in a hurry at all

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People waiting…

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Notice that some of the outfits are made of the same fabric. That’s what they do — some friends/family members decide on the fabric for every party and they get their dresses/shalwar kameezes/sarees made of it but in different designs, of course!

At some point the show finally started!!

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Around 11.30 pm we had to leave, but the concert was still going on and people didn’t start eating yet! We checked out the food though. Notice: everything was sent my the bride’s family

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To be continued…