Tuesday, September 11, 2007

11 September 2007: 9-11

Here I am in Kolkata, having successfully flown Jet flight #911 on 9/11. My friend here convinced me in advance that it was like a double negative (rather than a bad omen) and therefore nothing bad could happen to us. I figured that a domestic flight from Delhi to Kolkata was not a likely target. Still, the coincidence of our flight number was a bit unnerving.

Kolkata is even steamier than Delhi – literally. Upon leaving the airport terminal, those in our group wearing glasses had to remove them because they fogged right up.

I know so little about Kolkata, but of course Mother Teresa and abject poverty is the first thing that comes to mind. We were surrounded by people begging at the airport, including a woman missing a hand, holding a child in her other arm. Then we show up at an upscale hotel (which has definitely seen better years), which really underscores the already obvious vast economic inequality. It was also jarring to see mega-billboards line the road into the city – far more than I’ve seen in any other Indian city so far. Many advertised new luxury apartment complexes (India’s version of a gated community).

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