Greetings from Kolkata, India.
Last week I was telling you about chaos in a Delhi hotel, you can read about it here.

Since then, I took a brief jaunt to South Goa to see some old friends and meet up with a gemstone dealer. Then a direct flight from the west of India to the far east to Kolkata.
It's where Mr Chatterjee (our main agent in India) has his proper business, a factory producing jute and cotton products - bags and such like.

They say Kolkata is the most densely populated city on earth, and when you consider how few high rise buildings there are you can understand that's a lot of people living in close proximity. I began to appreciate just how much when taking the old GT road along the banks of the Ganges river and along to the town of Serampore where Chatterjee has his factory. I normally stay in a small hotel (the only hotel) in Serampore called the Royal.. I was quite pleased to find it was fully booked with a wedding.. so had to stay at more comfortable hotel near the airport. The journey according to google maps is 29 kilometers. Not too bad, we set off at 9.30am. Now in India, everyone employees professional drivers to get them around.Chatterjee looks at me in amazement when I tell him that in the UK I drive my own car around.
There is a good reason for this though, and it's this - you need to be a specialist with formula one racing reactions and the aggression of a pitbull on steroids to survive in Kolkata.
So we had a meaty Scorpion Jeep with a big bull bar on the front and brutally hard seats. I'm sure it is a safe choice but by the time we got to work, 3 hours later I was stressed to the point of collapse, my back in spasm and my knuckles white from clinging to the door as we scrapped through impossible gaps, missed holy cows by inches pushed at least three people off bikes and escaped been crushed by huge coal lorries that use both sides of the road randomly, as did we. I have been coming to India for 15 years and I still can't get used to that kind of traffic, and Mr Chatterjee and his staff don't appear to notice. "What's wrong?" he asked.. All I could mutter is.. It's not normal, it not normal.

Other parts of India have improved immensely, but if you want to experience the authentic Indian traffic, how to Kolkata.

When it takes 3 hours to go less than 30 kilometres then you can see why lack of infrastructure. and over population is holding India back.

Of all the places we trade Serampore is the poorest. Four years ago we adopted a broken down orphanage, run by a lovely Kind hearted man called Mr Kundo.

There was no electricity, no water, no kitchen it was heart breaking, but Mr Kundo was doing his best to care for twenty odd kids who had no other home. A bit of money and lot of effort by Chatterjee and his staff, and the basics are all fixed. Now it's quite a nice spot next to a lake. We took on an English teacher a year ago, and this year a computer teacher and an art teacher.

I went a long to see them. They are always happy to see me, and now we have developed a whole series of traditions. They put on a show.. Art, music, poetry.. And amazing demonstrations of pretty damn good English.

And now.. Said the English teacher.. after everyone had done their bit, Mr David will give us a short speech on the values of Holi..
What the... do I know about that.. All I know is that Holi is a time to drink cannabis smoothies and plaster everything and everyone in multicoloured powder paint.

The best I could manage.. Was a short story about some English guys who came to India to learn about its wisdom.. They were the Beatles, and after there wrote the song.. All you need is love.. Love us all you need.

They seemed to like that..
So much that the art teacher pained my portrait, one guy wrote a poem entitled David the Divine... I'm going to frame it.. Haha.


And afterwards, we all spend a few minutes doing a group high fives. It's our tradition. And the most fun. Then we discovered that Chatterjee's main manager is an ace chess player, I like to play chess.. so we are going to get a pile of chess sets and teach the kids..

Speaking of Love.. it's almost Mother's Day.. and we are moving like the wind to get your orders out - come hell, high-water or mountains of snow..
So have a lovely weekend, and lots of Mother's Day wishes to everyone who qualifies for that.

Take care.. more news next week.



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