Monday, June 30, 2008

We have left Kolkata

My family and I are moving to Gurgaon, just southwest of Delhi. I will be starting a new blog: american-in-delhi.blogspot.com. So far, there is only a preliminary post, but I hope to have a more regular series of updates. Kolkata was not very infrastructure friendly and Gurgoan, so far, is proving to be much more responsive (and cheaper) for me. Being white in Kolkata made it easily the most expensive city in India for me personally. (Your individual experiences may vary.)

I will sincerely miss my fellow Group Leaders (and then there were none). I will also miss the very best Marketing Team that Kolkata has to offer. They are the reason, more than anything else, that made leaving Kolkata a very sad thing for me.

See you in Gurgaon. :-)

8 comments:

Dibyendu Choudhury said...

I knew u had to leave Kolkata, tried to communicate that to you several times, but I guess "Whenever whatever happens was to happen"

Best of luck and I wish we still can stay in touch together.
Thanks
Dib

Natalie Buda said...

Interesting to read that Kolkata was a very expensive city for you because you were easily identified as a foreigner. Was this with every aspect of living or certain areas like transportation, markets, and rent? We are arriving next week, so I would love to know. Good luck in Gurgaon!

- Natalie

http://diplolife.blogspot.com/

Jeanne Heydecker said...

Natalie, I have lived in Mumbai and also in Kolkata, now also new to Delhi. Of the three, you will need to be the most careful in Kolkata. Find people you can trust to assist you. Those people can help you gauge just how much you are being overcharged for basic services. Finding those people will be the biggest challenge.

Cab drivers TOTALLY suck. They refuse fares when they don't want to go there, and they will overcharge foreigners outrageous sums of money. Example: a 20 rupee taxi ride billed to me at 500. I asked him for his rate card (which he has to have at all times) and he said he didn't have one. I told him to take me to Jadavpur thana, the Jadvapur police station. Then he miraculously found his rate card.

I've seen foreigners on Park Street ripped off for relatively huge sums of money. Okay, twenty dollars is not a lot of money, but that's around 800 rupees, more than the typical maid makes in a month. For a tourist, that's not a big deal, but for expats earning rupees, it is.

I tried to avoid areas where tourist would shop, and when I did, I spoke to the touts in Bengali: (Now, I'm spelling it all wrong, just going on phonetics) "Ahmee tourist noi, dada - meera baree Jadavpur. Chellay hut!" translation: "I am not a tourist, brother - my house is in Jadvapur. Go Away." That didn't always work, but sometimes it did. I think the fact that a white woman was speaking Bengali to them shocked them more than what I said. I loved the shops at New Market, but the touts were unbelievably obnoxious.

There are fixed prices for food in Spencers and Food Bazaar, but fish, meat and produce are still highly negotiable and found in the traditional shops. Talk with a few people you trust about what things should cost before you go. They typically don't speak English and if they do, prepare to walk away if they don't accept your offer at local prices. There are lots of shops.

The biggest priority is getting a car with AC, so you can keep your windows closed in traffic. In additional to the incredible heat and the beggars approaching you, the diesel fumes are a killer. The driving is absolutely insane. There are a couple of AC cabs, they're blue. I saw one once - before that I was sure it was an urban myth.

It's a tough transition, but Bengalis are great people, proud of their heritage and their cuisine is pretty interesting. West Bengal has arguably some of the best fish in the world - I am especially fond of the prawns and Bekti, a great whitefish with a more solid texture like swordfish. Rui is another similar fish I would recommend. If you're not squeamish about bones, try the Hilsa -it's like dealing with sardines, lots of pin bones. The curries (or gravies) of Bengal are really tasty - quite different from the heavy North Indian fare we see in Indian restaurants in the West.

Good luck in Kolkata!

Kolkata Web Design said...

But why did you left Kolkata? Kolkata is good place to live.

Jeanne Heydecker said...

Kolkata Web Design: Have you READ my blog?

Indraneel said...

Hi Jeanne! Reading your posts was an amazing experience aside of leaving me with a big smile :) Tell you what lady, you nearly captured the essence of kolkata in your brief stay hereat! And you ought to have been a writer too :)

OK, aside of disagreeing with your apparent dislike of Hilsa ;), I'd have loved you to have stayed on here and continue writing your lovely posts laced with your own wit & humour. I do hope you might return to this city someday!

Thank you for making my day. Take care of you & yours and good luck in all your future endeavours.

W/Hugs hugs & best wishes, N.

PS. Hope you have quit smoking by now! I quit smoking with help from online friends at quitnet.com :)

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Suhana Ansari said...

Great article. I am also from Kolkata and found your article very interesting. Very nice Photos. I am a student of Acesoftech( a web PHP Training institute in kolkata).

Thanks,

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