Tuesday, March 29, 2011

India part 25d: back in Calcutta

After attempting and failing to go to a Botanical Gardens in a variety of cities, and also managing to not get a decent picture of a butterfly a number of times - the fiends kept flying off - in Calcutta, fresh from our Sundarbans trip, I managed to achieve both.

Common Tiger butterfy

Blue Tiger butterfy

The gardens also featured the delights of India's biggest Banyan tree. So massive, I couldn't fit it all in.

The biggest Banyan tree in India

Banyan trees are a pretty scary idea as it is - this one had spread its 2800-odd offshoots over a ridiculously large area and looked like something out of HR Geiger.

Banyan roots

Banyan clearing

Some of the roots are thick enough to resemble trees in their own right; some are spindly and propped up by wooden crutches, as if Salvador Dali had done a turn as a park ranger. The only drawback of the gardens was that the ticket people confiscated our bottles of mineral water on the way in, which meant we could only stay as long as thirst allowed. As I noted in my diary, this turn of events was startlingly reminiscent of the protagonist's predicament in 127 Hours, which we'd seen at the cinema the previous day. Thankfully no arms were sawn off during our frolicking amongst the foliage.

The other memorable thing about Calcutta was that it was the city in which I finally finished reading Roberto Bolano's monster masterwork 2666. Let us celebrate with one of my favourite quotes from the book:

That night Reiter wasn't tired and the full moon filtered through the fabric of the tent like boiling coffee through a sock.

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