Calcutta – City of light, City of magic

We awake in our opulent digs in The Kempton with expectations of the days adventures in the great city of Calcutta. My expectations laced with a bit of anxiety from my dread of and big cities and congestion. Bob seemed sunny and raring to get to the days adventures. So we sauntered down to the breakfast buffet.


We fortify ourselves for the days adventure and order up a car and driver for our days travels and travails. As I was enjoying my repast I notice a herd of goats being shepherded down the tight alley next to the hotel. Where are these cute little beasties going on hoof in the near center of this giant of a city??? Bob and I talk it over and hope that we’re not near a local abattoir! But we can think of no other reason for a herd of goats in the city. I put our needlessly speculative musings from my mind and try to finish my meal. We gather our goods and off we go to see the city.

Our first stop will be the Queen Victoria Memorial. On the way I am shocked – shocked I tell you at the huge areas of green space! We now find out where the goats were going – they were going to work cutting the grass on the massive fields of grass which host all manner of local sport.


Fields of goats and some horses. There were Calcutta Cowboys (no cows?) on horse back and many many young men and boys with long bamboo switches that were keeping the goats and other livestock from the roads and the fields that were hosting huge soccer games.


Threading through the center of the green space was a line of the local trolley system. There isn’t any coincidence  if these trolleys look like they are from the 1930s. They probably are. Bob says that the many hulking ancient masses of metal loosely called buses started life in a British city. The English then rode them hard and when they were deemed completely worn out and without the necessary skeleton for a rebuild platform they were shipped to Africa. In Africa they were taped together and patch welded and put into service for as many years as they will stay on the road without the help of jersey barriers on each side of the road. Do the “buses” then go to the scrap yards of Nairobi??? Nope! They get sold to the public transportation system of Calcutta! The origins of the trolleys are probably similar.


There are literally hundreds of acres of green space in the center of Calcutta! After this eye opening experience we arrive at the Queen Victoria Memorial and its adjoining acres of gardens adjacent to the city’s green space.


There it is in all its obvious ostentation of a global empire’s potentate. I am in awe of the grandeur and obvious power of the British Empire. Even as it manifests itself in this attenuated time. I am accustomed to seeing the Queen’s picture in all the gov’t offices of  Canada and I cerebrally know the History of perhaps the worlds greatest global Empire, but seeing the pictures and so on in Canada doesn’t really drive the point home. But this does! (He said understatedly) Huge gardens with ponds and trees surrounding a huge domed structure rivaling the US Capital building! And you know what??? This is still a memorial to Queen Victoria housing a museum to her majesty.


There she is in all her majesty. Flanked by the British lions.


We pay our entrance fees and walk the grounds. Absolutely awe inspiring but even more so was my second favorite tree in India (hey this is a big deal for me!). So what could possibly top the majesty of Queen Victoria??? The worlds greatest mimosa tree! It was absolutely fabulous!


There I am comparing my hefty trunk with a truly magnificent tree! Amazing. As you can see the parks and parklands are nearly deserted! I posit that this is a manifestation of a reverse condition to my aversion to bustle and congestion – people raised in the daily bustle of tight urban environs most surely must feel anxiety when confronted by this very minor dose of wilderness. The people seem to be like bees in a hive – they fly off on errands but always return asap to jostle shoulder to shoulder with their brethren for the comfort of normalcy. There is an obvious demarcation between the congested city and the parkland – cheek by jowl, shoulder to shoulder with beggars pulling at you dodging people here – cross the road **poof** nobody! Empty Parkland.

The next leg of our days adventures are the temples. We go to two temples – one a school as well and the other just a sacred place. Interesting and occupying real estate along the river. So I got to see boats and water plants in the river. I am not much impressed with temples – but here’s a cool picture from one of the temples.


They apparently weren’t getting enough money from the faithful so they started collecting from the merely full.

We decide that after the morning we would adjourn to the hotel walk the area and locate a power plug for our electronic devices and locate one of the great restaurants of India for lunch and again sample the street life of this giant of a city.

We’re dropped at the hotel and the driver says he’ll hang out until we need him again for the after noon. We take off and “blend into the crowd” LOL yeah right – a fat old curmudgeon in a very stylish panama hat (looking like an overfed Hannibal Lechter) and a distinguished oddly English looking aristocrat. (What’s he doing with the ugly American???) We enjoy our walk and pause at a corner to get my obligatory shot of the amazing wiring here in India.


Standing on the corner where this shot was taken I turned and there was the small ubiquitous Indian store front and they were specializing in electronics! Moving one step I asked Bob for his phone – pointed to the charging port and asked for a charger plug. The store owner swiveled in his seat and took it off the wall and handed it to me. I handed him the money and got the change. That is so indicative of transactions in India – there isn’t any real browsing seeing things that you didn’t know you needed. You must know what you need go to the little store front carrying that item and ask for it. The little store stalls are only about 10 to 12 feet wide on average and the inventory of the store goes way into the back of the store. We then went in search of the “Barbecue” for lunch. After several missed turns and me being chased down by a toddler street urchin beggar – boy she was fast! And she stuck to me like a burdock on a collie! I might be fat and old but I slid into a group of moslem clerics did a pivot and doubled back to Bob. – we walked up to a large teak door with a small Barbecue sign on it. LOL all the best places don’t have to advertise. Low and behold this was the place. We went up the stairs and were seated by the maitre’d. Sweet! We were hot and famished and the waiter provided the expected world class service. Our menus included King Fisher Premium Lager Beer!!! And Appetizers – prawn dumplings OMG! Yum! Ice cold Indian Kingfisher Premium Lager and prawn dumplings!!!!


Observe the half lidded look of ecstasy on his countenance! This man said he is not a beer drinker! I shit you not! Show me a nonbeer drinker and I’ll place an ice cold bottle of Kingfisher in his hand and watch that moniker melt away!


This was the first of several fine beers that met their demise at our table that day! Bob kept up pretty well too. I was a little surprised and subliminally thought that too many beers may not be good for the impending cold that Bob was sensing. I am not one to get in the way of mirth making so said nothing to put the brakes on it. After our sumptuous repast we wended our way back to the Hotel. This time via a direct route even though we’d had a few beers but I had mentally mapped the area by this time and was at home with this small area of Calcutta.

We boarded our car back at the Kempton and took off for the Mother Teresa clip shop and profit center compound downtown Calcutta. We are dropped at the door as there was a good crop of foreign sheep already there to be shorn. Our driver said he’d be back at the door in about an hour +/-. Bob rushed in after he saw a chalk board with the times for mass and communion inclusive of a tasty wafer thin cracker. We apparently made it just in time for the last shearing. As with all criminal establishments pictures were not allowed so I can’t present any here – Bob may have gotten a couple in his ecumenical zeal. He was so obviously ecstatic I couldn’t bear to tell him about the reports of the wafer’s being laced with low grade generic window pane LSD! I didn’t find it seemly to enter the inner sanctum so observed from out in the foyer. After several perfunctory banal and meaningless memes the priest was dispensing the LSD laced hosts….. omg Bob is in line!!!! Shit! Shit! Shit! LSD doesn’t mix well with beer (not that I have any first hand experience mind you……) He’s approaching the priest now…. next in line… will he be fed the LSD host or take it in his hand?…. he’s infront of the priest!….. Bob is the last in line….. Bob opens his mouth like a baby swallow and the priest dumps all the remains of the small pile of LSD hosts into……. BOB’S GAPING MAW!!!!!!! OMFG!!! I’m in for a long night – I wonder how fast he is with those long legs…. he has a few years on me but I still may not be able to keep up with him if he freaks and takes off….. But he’s tall…. I should be able to track him….. Yee Gads What the hell is going to happen. I get Bob back into our waiting car hoping I can get him locked in the room before the window pane kicks in. But Bob has other ideas – he wants to purchase a Lungi or Indian sarong. Holy shit this could be bad – I envision a nearly nude wild eyed hopped up Bob in a loud multicolored floral print Lungi disappearing into the hot Calcutta night. My only hope was that he might select some colors that were a little more appropriate for a man of his age and dignitas to be wearing on a drug induced tear in the evening! As grandma Marks would have said “For pity sake!” Woe is me what am I to do???? Now you all might be thinking – how selfish of you Jack to be thinking only of your predicament and not what’s happening to Bob. But you’ve obviously not been exposed to the force of nature Bob is when he has a couple beers! Its like getting onto a roller coaster and feeling the automated safety bar come down on your thighs. As Bette Davis said, “Fasten your safety belts we’re in for a bumpy night!”

Our fine a diligent driver takes us to the market and we find our way to the lungi sales booth and the salesmen shows us his wares and realizes that these are all a little short for this freakishly tall anglo and with fear in his eye from the impending storm he senses coming runs to find some longer lungis. We can’t have an LSD crazed anglo running around in a miniskirt – er- minilungi……. The clerk returns with the goods and I see that the window pane hasn’t yet kicked in and Bob makes a very well considered choice. (I won’t spoil it for next summers camp goers by giving much detail so you can all be amazed when he’s debuts in it) I help with the change and hustle Bob back to the car. We get back to the Kempton in quick order and I herd Bob to the room – thinking that the heavy teak doors should be proof against him – and I may be home free yet. I get him to the room with few raised eyebrows and reach into my back pack for the tranc gun – pffffft and he’s hit in the left cheek, the hypo injects before he claws for it, and falls nicely onto the bed – left cheek up! Woooo close one! It was just up to me to get a few extra sheets from the staff and securely tie the somnabulent potential urban myth to the bed and get some much needed shut eye – tomorrow is a travel day after all……


A Passage to Calcutta

We’ve successfully navigated travel halfway around the globe and survived the onslaught of a determined Mama Ji but we have yet to be confronted by the vagaries of domestic India air travel. But we are well fed and rested and looking forward to passage to Calcutta as another day of our adventure. We check out of our hole in the wall hotel and make our way back to the New Delhi airport to begin our next leg – the flight to Calcutta.


The Delhi airport is spacious and efficient and I really like the elephant sculpture. Here’s Bob in the foreground after we’ve checked our bags. Since Bob knows how quickly changes occur with domestic Indian travel we arrived at the airport with plenty of time to deal with changes. Thus we had lots of time to find the correct lines, locations, gates etc. And I assure you it is all quite confusing as there were several times that Bob and I had discussions as to what signs and tote boards meant but in almost every instance of confusion Bob employed his specific super power of locating an official that knows the particular information we need and asking him the questions pertinent to our needs. It was also a little muddled as the flights to Calcutta were oddly handled from the international terminal areas. But we handled it all with calm efficiency. There was a small misunderstanding at baggage check in. We didn’t check our bottle of Gin with the normal baggage. We picked up the bottle Gin when we landed at the airport and thus had it with our carry on bags – that’s ok as long as the bottle was procured inside the security perimeter of the flight. But when bringing the bottle from outside the flight perimeter, the bottle (above the tiny carry on volume restriction) must be with the checked in baggage. I also had my tiny (~1″ swiss army) penknife on its silver chain to prevent it’s stupid owner from misplacing it on my person. I forgot about the flight restrictions when I dressed. So as we were being screened for entrance to the flight area it became obvious that the bottle of Gin wasn’t allowed and neither was my giant edged weapon. Thinking fast – Bob took one of our three carry on bags and suggested that we could put it into the check on bags. We got odd looks but mostly that its possible to do. So the Gin and my tiny knife were retrieved and put into our third carry on bag and Bob when against the flow back to baggage check in. Bob brilliantly circumvented the check in line by catching the eye of the check in agent and employing his vaunted “confused – sincere and well meaning American” look got the deed done. It worked splendidly and he had only to endure a slight  reprimand from the agent by way of scolding him for not paying close enough attention.  I remained safely in the flight security zone with our carry on bags. So in short order all was right with the world – our Gin and my small pen knife were safely ensconced in our check in baggage. We could now relax and watch the big board for gate changes, delays etc. as well as supply ourselves with food etc. I also got to stroll around the airport and soak it in. My favorite sign was one showing a direct equivalence of harmful vices.


Now we have time to take care of some loose ends. Bob decides to get an Indian SIM card for his phone to facilitate the convenience of local calls and we need to get something to eat. The SIM card is installed at a small Kiosk and Bob’s phone doesn’t seem to be digesting the new addition and we decide to see what an Indian McDonalds is like. Well there was no beef on the menu at all and several tofu or vegetable burgers were the substituted items. YUM LOL I shuddered. I had a fish sandwich, fries and a coke and Bob had the same but with a chicken sandwich. It was different but not bad.

As with all travel – time seems to disappear. Especially when you’re on a flight to the east! we were soon on our flight to Calcutta.

It was dark when we winged near Calcutta and the air quality was head and shoulders above Delhi’s. I was approaching Calcutta with a bit of trepidation as it is a city notorious for filth, heat, congestion, poverty, epidemic disease, and pollution. There is also a notorious Calcutta urban legend of a large Caucasian man running rife throughout the city accosting rickshaw pullers and then absconding with their rickshaws never to be seen again! The urban legend goes that the man has a head that wouldn’t fit in a bucket and he laughs riotously sweating  profusely as he ploddingly absconds with his illicitly acquired rickshaw. At other times he is reported to be singing! “Confutatus Maledictus, confutatuuuuuus……” No one has of yet discovered his alleged motivations – but there are some theories. One of the theories is that Tata heavy industry has hired him to cripple the individual decentralized system of mass transportation….. Another more widely held theory is that he is just bat-shit crazy! I am in the second camp. So the plane swings around and comes into this giant of a city, an intimidating city, a city of joy and life.

We land without fanfare or mishap and smoothly collect our bags and acquire our prepaid taxi fare chit to go to the Kempton Hotel.


Almost all of the taxis are Ambassadors. A design deemed out dated when it was put on the road during Indira Gandhi’s time in power. But look closely at the picture this is not a photo from the 50’s it was just a few short weeks ago! The design is considered to be one of the worlds great taxis! It also won the taxi race a while back between the worlds greatest taxis on Top Gear!!! Heady completion indeed. We procure our anachronistic taxi and head into the heart of the beast. As our driver is loading our bags into the boot of the Ambassador I admonish him to under no circumstances stop if a large Caucasian rickshaw puller stops in front of us – always maintain enough room to turn away from the phantasm.

It was a short drive into the city but a long drive to the center of the city. Passing thousands of congested byways populated by millions of entrepreneurs single-mindedly hustling and bustling to make a living for themselves and their families. After about 15 minutes of congested driving in slow going tight conditions we merge into a matrix of narrow narrow alley ways – that taxi turning this way and that going over curbs, clipping bicyclists, pushing cows out of the way, disturbing feral dogs snoozing on the curb, avoiding small tie ups and difficulties — could it be that the notorious Caucasian rickshaw puller was sighted???? My imagination was pushing me near panic. When ever I visit New York City – I go through this. I know that there is a high probability that I will have a devastating agoraphobic episode and there is no way in god’s hell that I could escape such a giant entity in time to avert my impending death. So that is what I am feeling as the small taxi bumps into the night squeezing into byway after alley to gap between falling buildings ducking under power wires with my anxiety mounting with the realization that the taxi driver most certainly has no idea where the Kempton Hotel is and that he will summarily dump us in front of a rat infested hole between condemned structures. The taxis slows my worst fears about to be realized……. he sounds his horn and an iron gate slides aside and the taxi drives onto a small courtyard paved with marble next to a beautiful modern glass, brass and marble Hotel….. yes the HOTEL KEMPTON! My car-door is opened by a smiling gentleman in uniform. I’m beckoned to the hotel door by a footman who is busying himself with our bags and the uniformed doorman opens the door for us.


The Hotel desk man cordially says that we’ve been expecting you, and calls us by name and a liveried waiter with a silver tray presents us with crystal stem ware glasses filled with chilled guava nectar. We should have paid someone to film our arrival so we could relive feeling like celebrities every day. Wow did my anxiety levels drop!!!! The only way they could have dropped more is if the stemware was filled with a nice single malt scotch! The Kempton is a sumptuous and well appointed hotel with 5 star service but it seemed like heaven to me when presented against the backdrop of an imagined hell.

We jointed our luggage in our comfortable rooms and unwound for a few minutes – then went down to the hotel restaurant for supper. We were one of two tables being served and the wait staff treated us like honored uncles. When Bob requested the tandoori prawns he was apologetically informed that they didn’t have any at this time. He asked if they were perhaps out of season….. and the waiter said that that didn’t matter, we will have them tomorrow if you would like them at that time. (And what’s more is that they did!)

After we dined we decided to leave our sanctuary and take a walk around Calcutta. Bob was  concerned about the preliminary symptoms of cold or flu. We were on a little quest to locate some highly touted anticold Vicks product with Asian rhino horn, ground snake penis and the yellow scat of musk melon eating pangolins. The doses that Bob bought to bring on the trip were still sitting on an end table back in western New York. I hope one of their dogs doesn’t get into it…… Needless to say we didn’t find it but we did navigate the night streets of Calcutta. Bob moving with naïve confidence and me with waning anxiety.

So our time in the City of Joy was beginning – I was as yet a bit anxious.

I leave you with a picture of the door to our rooms – it is 3.5″ of solid fucking teak! 3.5″ Inches of TEAK! This bank vault door like piece of wood could stop the Terminator and look beautiful doing it!!! This reminded me of how Pizzaro had horse shoes made of silver put on his horses in south America.


Such decadent and profligate use of wonderful material!

Day 2 – We narrowly miss Sandjay MacPatel

After the eventful and lengthy flight we are tired and in need of some much needed rest to recharge and acclimate to the local time. We disembark and enter the New Delhi Airport to be welcomed by the giant graceful hand sculptures in the New Delhi International airport receiving area. We are a little worried that our E-Visas will be a liability now, costing us some delays at customs/immigration. But the Indian authorities are all over this! They have about 10 stalls set up to specifically service international E-visas. I look over at the  mile long “switchback” line that the Indians are mired in and feel so sorry for Mama Ji – I wonder if she got in line near the projectile vomit child. But the errant bit of empathy is quickly exorcised and I proceed to the E-Visa line with Bob. Bob is first to the booth in our line as he is in his “run off and join the circus” mode. One has to keep an eye on him when he’s like this. But its pretty easy as he towers above the crowd. Bob presents his papers and is electronically fingerprinted and moves on. I present my papers and pass port and my prints are processed. I am waved on — but wait — I am called back, the agent forgot to stamp one of my papers. He has to begin again and he goes a little slower this time. But he gets it done quickly. I soon am scanning for Bob but he is nearby waiting putting my earlier observation about him running off to rest! So we rejoin and collect our baggage and proceed. Next step is well planned by Bob – in order to avoid the taxi cab rush of  vultures feeding on a new carcass, we pre-purchase our taxi fare at the prepay stand avoiding the haggle hassle with several drivers vying for our business. We then take our receipt out to a designated driver and proceed to the location noted on the paper. We load up and are on our way. A while down the road there is some jabbering on the phone and it appears as though our driver doesn’t know the location of our prepaid lodgings. What you say? They can’t find The Hotel Brigadoon New Delhi???? Yes apparently the day this 100 years that its accepting guests is over and the hotel has again disappeared into the mists of the Indian moors. Perhaps its just the worsening air quality plaguing New Delhi from the inversion. Bob doesn’t know that we’ve narrowly avoided a time vortex but is as yet intent to get to our lodgings or some lodgings so he tells our driver to return us to the airport. Back we go. And back to the prepay taxi booth. The agent there calls the Hotel Brigadoon only to get a disconnected phone message! They apparently disconnected their phones before being subsumed by the century long time vortex. Yegads!!! What do we do now???? Not to worry the agent has the name of a nearby hotel at a good price – probably his brother in law’s. We get booked there and give a few more rupees to cover the difference in distance and we are off once again into the Indian night. The hotel seems far away from the airport and we drive into a pretty seedy looking area then make a sharp right into a very narrow alley probably too narrow for a full size car and then emerge into a small garden courtyard adjacent to the doors of a high end hotel! And it has no hint of Scottish character about it as the bell hops are watching cricket and we’re expected. This place will not slip away in 24 hrs time! We check in and are soon comfortably ensconced in our room. I am always amazed at the amount of marble everywhere in India. Marble floors, stairs, bathrooms, walls, table tops etc. This place is put together and the beds are soft and comfortable. We unwind and are soon sleeping comfortably.

Morning light comes early but it means little to us as we’ve slept for a good 9 hours. Bob is in the bathroom showering as I open the door to our tiny balcony— no better to say veranda…


We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto! I see a wing of three ring necked plum headed parakeets, several Asian crows and a pariah kite as the neighbor’s dog is barking at a feral dog and keeping him off of his family’s turf. The lush vegetation of the back alleys of New Delhi always catches me by surprise.


The people of New Delhi like us are waking and making preparations for another day of hard work and hustling for a living.


The neighbor is showing why the air quality during an inversion gets progressively exponentially worse as the day or days go on. The neighbor pictured is drying cow patties (not the noted cow girl) on the roof abutments. They will later be burnt (smoldered?) for cooking fires. Hmm no wonder Indian cuisine is a taste I have not acquired and it is generally so heavily spiced. The black tanks are water supply tanks. The municipal water system is only on during designated days or hours and water is drawn from the system at those times and stored on the roof of each building to supply 24 hr water. It would have to be pumped to the roof for good pressure in any case.

Bob soon exits the bathroom and enjoys the view with me content in the idea that he has used every drop of hot water. LOL Not really, I kept the water heater on and there is plenty for my ablutions as well. Jim Baxter warned me about Bob’s MO with the hot water so I am vigilant to make sure that the heater stays on. After my shower and repacking we decide to have breakfast in our room before we fly off to Calcutta. Note: I like the old name for Kolkata better as I have fine Shimano casting by that name and shall continue to use that here in the blog. We opt for scrambled eggs, toast, juice and tea. We are rested and ready to brave the vagaries of dun dun dun (foreboding music) domestic Indian air travel……. So I will leave that tale to the next blog.

INDIA II – Day One…

Wherein Jack does battle with the most dangerous of India’s Mega Fauna.

Yes dear reader I’m back from my second trip to India with Bob. It was a great adventure with “ups and downs” but mostly all “ups” and the downs were merely character building and learning exercises. So it was all good going on great.

Mother India is yet an enigma to me in many ways but after the first day of this trip I came onto some basic realizations about the land. India is Under Construction and I don’t think it will ever be complete. I’m not sure that even any phase of the construction will be complete before they need to update it or expand it. Even the way they build lends itself to this mentality. They build in tiers with rebar reinforced concrete. Occupying the lower tier whilst the upper tier is being worked on and the top floor awaits a start! If I come back ten years from now there will be two more floors completed but there will still be an identical situation on the top two floors. The top floor always has rebar reaching for the sky. Another observation is that – The apparent exterior condition more often than not is diametrically opposite to the interior condition. For instance you may drive through a congested fetid hot mess of a neighborhood then drive back a narrow dark alley, park the car, then go into a fabulous marble and gold gilt super clean high end hotel! And the obverse — When closely approaching a beautiful fantasmagorical huge marble domed temple structure of fabulous architecture you begin to see how dirty, shabby and littered the interior is. You just want to step back away from the place and forget that you’ve seen the interior. But enough observations – I’ll try and save those for the end.

Jack vs. the fiercest of India’s Mega-fauna

Bob and I make our way to Pearson International in Toronto for our flight out to Delhi. There are hundreds of Indians on their way home vying for position to check in baggage and secure boarding passes and there are no better line jumpers and que circumventers than Indians! Bob and I go with the flow and do our best but find our selves in a “purgatory line”. Then Bob does something brilliant…. He flags down an official looking person and asks him the 10,000 rupee question —- “Is this the line for the flight to New Delhi?” And he does it with his best “Dear father Bob – we have only the worlds best interests in mind” delivery! Ye Gads it works! The official takes us out of purgatory and takes us to the promised land (line)! We are just three people away from boarding passes and checking luggage! This is why Bob is still among the greatest world travelers of all time! We get everything we need go through security and board the plane.

Bob being a tall lanky guy requires more leg room than generally provided by airlines so he will generally purchase seats right aft of the bulkhead behind first class. That gives a lot more leg room and he usually gets the aisle seat too. For the long haul flight a big-ass plane has three seats on each window side, the two aisles, and a row of four seats in the middle. The middle seats just behind the bulkhead are DEATH! There invariably is a baby or babies here as a cradle can be affixed to the bulkhead for the baby when the plane is under way. Ok you got the picture. Now here it comes – the most fearsome of Indian mega fauna arrives —– MAMA JI (and her poor beat down husband). A Mama Ji is an aging matriarch of the family that is in charge of everything and is universally catered to. Mama Ji and hubby have the two tickets for the window seat next to me and Bob and the aisle seat for the center (DEATH) section. Mama Ji wants to consolidate her seats. She asks (read this as commands) me to move to the center section so that she and hubby may sit next to each other next to Bob. LOL that’s a good one! ha hah hah!!! Sorry Mama Ji  – No Way. My ticket says this is my seat and I ain’t movin’. I reply – “No thank you.” Hummph this is not acceptable to the exalted JI! She approaches Bob and sees if he will intercede or move. LOL Bob just looks at her like he can’t hear her and shrugs. She is at an impasse. Next move the Ji speaks Hindi to the flight attendant trying to get him to dislodge the recalcitrant intractable American philistine. The attendant checks the ticket and tells her that her seat choices are on the tickets. Ji is not amused! (Meanwhile the inevitable has occurred — a young Indian couple with a cute yet colicky baby have arrived and occupied the center section!) Next step she tells hubby to sit in the center aisle seat and she takes the seat next to the offensive non-cooperative American. Her goal is now to convince me to move using unassailable “Mama Ji-logic” . “Hello how are you? Where are you travelling to in India?” – “Delhi.” “Why don’t you want to move to that nice aisle seat in the center section??????” “I don’t want to sit near the child.” “What, that cute little baby???? Surely you like children.” (I step back here to advise the reader that all Indians have a deep and abiding love and reverence for all life and most of all their babies. Its absolute blasphemy for anyone to even hint at an oppositional view.) “Why no – I don’t like children.” Mama Ji is visibly shaken and simultaneously taken aback! How can this be the answer????? She thinks how can approach such apostasy  and blasphemy????? Hmmm….I know, I know, everyone has children… he has to love his children….. “Do you have children?” (after he says yes I’ll follow with surely you love them….ha ha ha I have him on the ropes….) “Why no, I don’t – didn’t I tell you I don’t like children?” Mama Ji blanches – I am sitting next to the devil incarnate!!!! “Everyone loves children…..” “No I don’t and that is why I’m not sitting in the center section and won’t move there…”  This cannot be! I must leave the presence of this most unwholesome alien creature…She leans forward and speaks Hindi to her husband and then switches places with him immediately. The plane takes off and the flight goes on for many hours as the baby in the center section cries and bawls and sleeps and Mama Ji advises the young mother as to what all she is doing wrong -no doubt. Nearing the end of the flight the inevitable occurs —THE PROJECTILE BABY VOMIT! Every travelling parent’s favorite! And it has the delightful aroma of sour milk baby puke. I calmly reach up and adjust my vent venturi directing fresh air directly onto my face and adjust Bob’s so he gets a little more air as well fending off the offensive stench. Mama Ji is beside herself and pulls her blouse up over her nose and lower face! The next inevitability occurs… her poor husband is summoned and must now switch seats with her yet again. Baby puke apparently trumps evil apostasy! Mama Ji to me – “I am so sensitive to bad odors!” through her blouse pulled over her nose. My calm and matter of fact reply – “Yes so am I, that is why I wouldn’t sit over there.” Mama Ji is suddenly interested in what is going on out side the window of the plane and is completely engrossed by it for the short remains of the flight.

Game-set-match! To the Evil Philistine American!

Last Dance…

Last chance for…Fuuuun.

Yes we’ve come to the end of the line for summer. Summer hasn’t realized it yet here though. After almost all the guests have deserted camp, theeeeennnn we get the best weather of the season! Clear warm to hot sunny days without a cloud in the sky! Absolutely wonderful weather! But wait, The Evil One reminds me that it may just be that there are no pain in-the-ass guests in camp and that its just allowing my naturally sunny disposition to shine through. LOL Yeah Right!

Yes dear reader I realize that I have once more deserted you for most of the summer and have obviously abandoned my spring resolution to blog every Sunday. But you have to understand I am weak and easily taken in by schemes to force me to have fun by going fishing and/or drinking – not my fault you see – not on me at all! If you want more blogs you’ll have to come to camp and intercede to prevent my friends from derailing my noble intentions. Yeah – yeah that’s the ticket – noble intentions hmmmmm I wonder what other crap I can float on this vessel of obvious obfuscation. And I have spent vast amounts of time training my pup – Kevin.

This has been a pretty busy summer with dismantling the old left dock and building the new one as well as all the other changes around camp – and the poor summer weather often interfered with getting things done too. But it has been a delightful summer in-spite of it. As I age I have come into some deep wisdom that I will share with you now. As you know we’ve lost our beloved Baxter and have gone through some dark times. Bart was in a very dark place and would barely even get out of bed – so it was imperative to his health and welfare that he get some puppy therapy. Enter crazy Kevin. Training him has been very easy as he is very closely attached to his Daddy. We’ve also lost a young friend that I always enjoyed the pleasure of his company. Brian Ward worked hard, played hard always had a mischievous smile and knowing wink – I miss his presence.   I have come to the realization that the most wondrous and beautiful sight in the world is not the fleetingly subtle smile of a winsome ingénue but the unbridled joy of a young puppy running full bore to come to his daddy when he is called. Another truth is that if you want to have a great fishing trip – don’t worry or dwell on catching fish just go fishing with people you love and enjoy. If you enjoy the company the fish will bite – and if they don’t you’ll still have a fantastic time. Don’t waste your recreational time on any goal other than enjoying your friends and loved ones and having fun- you will never regret it.

The last few weeks here have indeed been beautiful and Bill has been here at camp helping out making closing the camp very easy physically but harder from a psychological standpoint. When Bill and I went out to retrieve the shoal markers we caught fish like crazy! No really large fish but getting a bite on nearly every cast! All bass. Janet was to go out with us but she wasn’t feeling it so she opted out and missed the great time. So given Janet’s non participation Bill and me conspired to get Janet out fishing one last time (Gee we’d get to go too). So after most everything for camp closing was completed The five of us – Bart, Kevin, Janet, Bill and Me went out fishing one last time. The day was sunny and warm (70’sF in Oct!) but there was a stiff southerly. Janet was trepidacious, but we convinced her to go by promising to go slow and fish only in the south end of the lake. We fished only Sawmill (Deadhead) bay and the big Weed-bed Bay. The wind was still whipping up respectable waves even in areas with fetch of only a hundred yards! We only got a few bites and boated two medium size pike and had a fantastic time. Quaffing a few cold brews and laughing our asses off about the events of the summer or the antics of  Kevin in the boat. What a delightful day – no pressure – totally comfortable – totally entertained. I can not imagine being anywhere else and being as happy.

Yet all summers come to an end and this one is no different. The weather is holding and I have all the heavy lifting done with the closing (thanks again to Bill for the invaluable assistance) and all that remains for me is the heartbreak of final closing and driving away. Its about 62F out and drizzling with a little breeze. So me and Kevin went for a walk and cleaned up some small closing tasks. Kevin really enjoyed running around and chasing the squirrels but when we got back to the lodge he was more than ready to run inside and jump onto mommy’s lap. Last night we had a fabulous full moon that rose like a mystical light orange great pumpkin only to later transform into a smiling bright white beacon in the night. I didn’t even have to take a flashlight when I took the boys out to do their business. I always marvel when I look down and see the ultra crisp moonlit outline of my shadow on the drive. Albeit the shadow appears completely distorted – its the shadow of some old fat guy!???? What the hell – Kevin loves his daddy and is going to have new adventures with us for years to come.

I still don’t want to leave – where’s the goddamn snow when you need motivation?

Is this heaven? No, its Sportsmen’s Camp.

Something Completely …

Different. This short post is to announce a new activity here at Sportsmen’s Camp – the first (possibly annual) Invitational Golf Tournament! Yes you read it properly – a GOLF TOURNAMENT here at Camp. When it was leaked that we would have a golf tournament  we were immediately contacted by an unnamed operative of the Russian Oligarchs, (Jared Kushner) and offered vast quantities of rubles to secure the naming rights for this most prestigious of tournaments! Imagine it …. The TRUMP Golf Tournament! But we couldn’t stomach being associated with a batshit crazy lying traitorous douchebag so we turned down the offer. So the prize for the tourney will be meager but it at least we will maintain our integrity. But wait, there’s more we just got a package in the mail today – apparently the trump organization sent out the trophy cups prior to finalizing the deal!!! With a little alteration I will present them as the prizes.

This is how it will go – I don’t have any golf clubs or golf balls but there will be a series of three holes set up for the contestants and each group of three players will play them and the team with the lowest aggregate strokes will be the winning team and the single player with the best score will also be recognized. Each hole will be about a par 5 + and three clubs should be used, a pitching wedge of your choice, a sand wedge and a putter. So bring your clubs, tees, (we’ll provide defunct Canadian pennies for ball markers between shots) and golf balls. Be prepared for some rough course conditions. (Of course all the rules and conditions of play can and probably will be changed prior to play due to weather, time constraints, number of contestants and whims of the Evil One)

This could shape up to something fun assuming we don’t break any windows (I am looking at a severe stroke penalty) and I am guessing that the galleries will be drunk boisterous and ducking for cover!

Sign up ASAP as we may have to cut the field (The Evil One has the mower!)

The Riches of the Boreal North…

Are not Gold – not silver – not diamonds – not trees – its something that each and everyone of us should recognize as clearly as the nose on our faces. It is so abundant that its effect is similar to the way the massive glut of gold devalued nearly every commodity after the Spanish Conquistadors rape and pillage of the Americas. Whenever I am confronted by this resource south of the boarder and have Americans speak of abundance I merely sniff and say, “You know nothing of abundance….”   What is the true wealth of the North?? It is it’s MASSIVE amount of insect biomass! It feeds the ecosystem vast tonnage of nutrients converting huge stores of every available nutrient into vast biodiversity and what we all love so much – fish and wildlife. This concept struck me the other evening as we were admiring the end of another fabulous Firth Lake sunset and were marveling at the enormous hatch of large green and slate drake mayflies. It was spectacular! thousands perhaps millions of the delectable flies emerge from the lake to have their swan song of mating egg laying and early death. The massive orgy provides almost every creature here with inexhaustible food for a couple weeks. Obviously the fish, but even more so the baby ducks and nesting birds of every species get a huge boost of growth fed by the highest quality food. The cascade to other parts of the ecosystem has just as profound a positive and longterm impact. We can easily observe and marvel at the amazing hatch because they are not biting insects. But as I am sure you all realize that is generally not the case with the other insects! Black flies, mosquitoes, no-seeums, deer flies, horse flies, ankle biters etc. all harass and annoy. Yet we should always understand that if any or all these irritating insects were to disappear the North would not be as productive and great ever again.

So as I said the annual Mayfly hatch is on and it is spectacular! Happy hours on the beach in the sun and watching this marvel is an honor. The biting insects are finally in remission too. Another of my favorite things to do during this high insect density time is with my bats. The bat houses on the side of the lodge are all occupied this year. Every night when I shut down the power at around 3am I open up the gravity water tank and go over to the patio. I point the flash light to the sky and shade my eyes from the beam then wait for my friends to visit. Tens of tiny winged bug eaters begin to buzz my head snatching the insects drawn to me and the beam. I hear the barely audible clicks and chitter of their sonar and conversations and I feel the breeze from their tiny wings as they swoop within inches of my head and face. What an honor it is to commune for scant moments with such divinely adapted alien creatures. I always feel so lucky when ever conditions are right for this and I am like Lou Gehrig perhaps the luckiest man in the world.


“Honey you look as fine as a brand new dock!”


No dock project is complete until Inspector Kevin does his in-depth check and falls off the dock at least once!

For the fishermen the lake is warm and the mayflies are hatching. Everything is as it should be. Fishing is slow now but will rebound with a vengeance. The new west dock is completed and installed and the Piscarious is now resting comfortably on the east dock in the warm welcoming arms of lady Firth. True to my internal vow I did not launch the Piscarious until the west dock was complete. Before I go further I should thank the many people that actually did all the work on the dock project – Paul, Charlie, Unckie Vic, Rob and Ryan in the procuring of the logs. Mike and Bill with the dismantling of the old dock and connecting all the logs for the new dock as well as drilling and placing the brackets and help with set up. Pat Cherry (one of the Evil One’s two friends) with getting the logs into the lake and distributing them and connecting them as well as decking. Pat swings a mean hammer even though it is small (sorry Pat). Also Lyle Beckett for the invaluable help putting the rubber bumpers on the dock. And last but certainly not least Joan for the generous sponsorship on the materials to complete the dock. As I look back on the project — if there were a commemorative plaque put on the dock all the people I thanked would be listed first and my name would be a mere footnote listed as the consulting engineer.

Riley continues to amble about the camp with Joan in tow and keeps every morsel of edible material off the premises as well as romping with the terror Kevin as a generous grandma would with grandchildren. Bart continues to keep the camp safe from marauding birds and squirrels as well as training Kevin. Kevin continues to grow and amaze us with his elan and joi de vive. He is a pup with boundless energy yet seems to sync very well with his old daddy. We seem to run out of gas at about the same time with similar results.


The Evil One took this picture clandestinely about a half hour into our nap time. I figured I should post it before it debuts on Facebook and I am derided by The Evil Ones two friends (Pat and Carol).

Kevin – like any wild beast lies in wait to ambush unsuspecting prey (aunt Joanie).


He is a constant source of amusement and inspiration.

Is this Heaven? —- No its Sportsmen’s Camp