I’ve wanted to visit the temple of Kali since reading a novel about a man drawn to Kolkata to search for a poet but he becomes embroiled in the dark heart of the city. Its called Songs of Kali and has a lot of references to the temple. The city sounded wild and dangerous so I was intrigued to see it for myself!
The temple was only 9km from the hotel but, due to the terrible Kolkata traffic, this is a one hour 20 minutes cab ride.
As I walked towards the temple I could only see one sign. It said “This Way Inside” with an arrow quite clearly showing the way. I followed it and, unsurprisingly (see previous post about queuing) I had to join a large queue.
At this point a few Indians pointed out I had a bag and I won’t get in with one. I said it’s okay, I’ll put them into the official bag office.
After twenty minutes of queuing I got to the entrance. At this point some old Indian ladies spotted me and choose to skip the whole line and come in by my side. Assuming I’d be too ignorant a foreigner to complain.
This nearly started a riot as the Indians behind screamed abuse at the little old ladies.
You would think such a holy place would be immune to people skipping ahead or shouting abuse.
As soon as I got in, I walked to what I assumed was the bag office. It was the bag office. The back of it. I spotted a man and asked him to take the bag. He said no. Go to the front of the office. This meant I had to go back out! My wife said she’d wait so I wouldn’t need to join the line again.
I went out and, what a surprise, there was another queue. This time to put in bags. Also unsurprisingly a little old lady used me as cover to jump the queue so she could put her bag in.
“At last I can get in,” I thought. I turned to go back to the line but I spotted my wife. She was no longer waiting. She was now at the bag office. She forgot she had a bag. So we queued again!
This time a little old lady pushed her son ahead of me. Technically she didn’t skip the queue. He did it for her.
After dropping the second bag we returned and rejoined the original line. It moved quite quickly. Before we knew it we were inside the temple where ….can you guess what happened next? Yes – we had a queue but not just one. We had a choice of three queues. Each seemed to head to different internal parts of the temple.
We decided to not bother with them and walked around admiring the outside of the building instead before leaving to join a queue to get our bags back.
I think instead of calling the book Songs of Kali, it should have been called Queues of Kali.