Public transport is dirt cheap. With a population that exceeds 15 million the money soon amounts. So far I have not paid more than €0.30c for a taxi ride and today on the metro the 20 minute ride from Park Street to Kalighat was the exorbitant sum of 4 rupees which = €0.06c. I was found it fascinating to watch and understand the politeness extended to women using the metro. In the centre section of each carriage is a seated area reserved for ‘Ladies’. Sometimes a man was seated in this area but if a female (of any age) came into that section and there were no other seats then he immediately stood up and gave his seat to the female. Malini told me that there are no exceptions to this rule. Additionally, men essentially do not stand in the area between the two facing rows of ladies, even if the carriage is full. In rush hour it seemed more accepted, but it was always the first area to clear of men. I thought to myself that I would like to see how this policy would work in Amsterdam – not.
Before I leave I will ride on one of the really old Kolkata trams. They are unbelievably old and still functioning. I have already made the decision to lash out on the first class area (seats and electric fans) which costs ½ a rupee more than standard class (benches and no fans). If you want to calculate the value of ½ a rupee, €1 = 64 rupees. Let me save you the trouble – a first class upgrade costs you €0.007c. (I am going to make sure that KLM is made aware of this more pragmatic pricing policy). None of this will do you any good if it leaves the tracks and wipes out the frontage of the nearby buildings, which apparently has happened, Ifte showed me where one group of buildings was seemingly set further back from the street than the neighboring buildings and it was for that reason.
Kolkata has a fairly large one-way traffic system in the centre of the city. So what?, you ask. Well Kolkata’s one-way system is absolutely unique in one regard. At 1pm in the afternoon, each day, the directional flow is reversed and stays in the new (opposite) direction until midnight, when it changes back. Apparently, at 12.45pm the police come out onto all the intersections, stop the traffic and then by 1pm force it all to turn around and make them go the other way. I really want to see this before I leave. Fantastic!