Arriving into Kolkata station, we struck up a conversation with a lady on the train, who was called Jolly (which turmned out to be a very fitting name). She offered us a lift with her friend, who kindly dropped us at our hotel. She had been in Lucknow training other teachers about human rights and child protection, and worked to help street kids into education - what an angel. We checked into our 1950s style hotel, complete with retro lift with metal shutters, akin to something out of a bond film. Walking the streets we quickly found out that WiFi is a scarce commodity, which was strange considering it was the most modern city we had yet visited. Hugo bought a work shirt from a street cart, a bargain at only £1.50 (we'll find out if it's any good later). We headed to the India museum, which had a collection of dinosaur fossils, which had interesting naming designations in place of the traditional Latin, all named after Hindu gods. It also had an exhibition on human evolution, which Hugo found very interesting, but I sat down and felt like an exhibit myself as everyone was looking at the blonde white girl instead of the museum exhibits. There was also some stuffed animals, some of which were of questionable likeness. All animals were a dusty dark brown regardless of their true colour and many looked like they had been prepared by a toy manufacturer rather than a taxidermist. All in all a good museum though. We walked through the extensive markets to park street, the main strip packed with plush restaurants and cafes. We went to a posh looking place called Mocambo's which had a very regal feel with red and gold decor and low lighting, complete with waiters dressed in traditional white uniform with turbans. We treated ourselves to a grilled local fish in a white sauce, and had a delicious chateaubriand steak with peppercorn sauce which was a bargain at only 4 quid (Hugo says it was up there with the best steaks he had ever had). After a luxurious meal we walked to our first pandal (a temporary temple built from bamboo and cloth for ten days in celebration of durga puja festival), which also had a fairground next door. Hugo had a go at shooting balloons with a rifle, but was unsuccessful (must be rigged he says). There was also the chance to win a pan on the coconut shy. We explored some other pandals, including a Chinese themed pandal with lanterns. Each one tends to have a theme, and all house a clay model of durga, the goddess with ten arms who sits on a lion. The detail involved in some of the buildings would have you questioning if they were really temporary, and the clay models are so detailed and a real work of art. Some are made of wood, some carved from polystyrene, and some with chandeliers made from cds or plastic bottles. The streets were heaving with people. The next day we bumped into a guy, Bob from Bow Barracks (an old army barracks that generations has lived in), who gave us some advice about what to see and do, and also invited us for a beer. We waited for the bus together, but it never came, so he offered for us to share his taxi. We went to see the howrah bridge and then walked through a nice park, passed the cricket ground, the high court, and stopped by st john's church. In the afternoon we went in search of wifi, and ended up in mcdonalds. To accesss wifi, you had to have an indian phone number, so we asked a guy if we could use his number to get the required code. The guy and his friend invited us to sit with them and share chocolate brownie. Turns out they were both electrical engineers. We made friends, and Omjit invited us to tea the next evening. After walking to the metro together, we separated and went to kalighat, an area with lots of pandals. There were some women singing local songs in a karaoke fashion, which was amusing. Strings and strings of lights were hung from all the buildings. The following day we were up really early for a photo tour of Kolkata and its neighbourhoods. Manjit gave us some tips on how to take a good photo. Some of his photos had featured in national geographic - he was a great photographer. We visited bow barracks, a Zoroastrian fire temple, a Chinese church, the Chinese market, a synagogue that was funded solely by an uber rich Jewish man, and an odd pastel coloured church complete with Mary in a sari. We saw a man with a bag made from goat. There was another guy with three goats, who milks them on demand at your doorstep each morning- you can't get more fresh than that! Their teats are covered with a bag as well, and they had muzzles on, to prevent them from eating anything that might affect the taste of their premium milk: only the best feed was given to these pampered goats. We saw a street full of men carrying wireless telephones around the street: they were using them to phone their families in other villages as they were immigrant workers. After a great tour we decided the early start was too much and went back to the hotel for a nap. In the evening, a marching band strolled past our hotel. We met Omjit and headed to a Chinese restaurant. We had to queue for a while to get a table - the place was massive but every table was full. The food was great and plentisome. Afterwards, Omjit offered to take us round some pandals. We headed to a couple of huge ones - one had a motorised man doing a shimmy shoulder shake, which the locals also found intriguing. Due to the mad crowds, we didn't get back until 3am. On the 4th we headed to 'fabindia', the Indian version of tkmaxx, and then went for lunch at an american biker cafe, where they had Heinz ketchup, woo! The menu looked great, but reality was disappointing. Afterwards, we went to the Victoria memorial hall, built for queen Victoria, but not completed until 20 or so years after her death. Walking down the road, we were passed by many horse drawn carriages, and trucks full of people banging drums. They were transporting their models of durga to the river to dispose of. We followed, and after a long walk, we arrived to find trucks unloading their idols. Somehow we walked straight down, despite all the barriers that the Indians were stood behind. We ended up in the media area, and were approached by zee news, a famous Indian TV channel, and asked to be interviewed live on tv. We couldn't say no... So we had our TV debut, in front of a crowd of Indians, and were asked about the festival. I was asked to say something in Bengali - I did my best to copy, but forgot to put my hands together so had to repeat it haha. We watched the men ceremoniously spin their idols before chucking them into the river, before being dragged on to a heap by a crane, so as not to polute the river. On our final day, we were on our way to the flower market, when we spotted a makeshift hairdresser (a mirror strapped to lampost, and a box of assorted powders and tools). What better place for Hugo to have a haircut! I did my best to explain 'short, back and sides' in hand signals, and hoped for the best. After lotions and potions, powder poof, head massage ands thinning scissors, he actually turned out ok. A pound well spent. We continued to the flower market, and wandered around the variety of flowers and flower chains hanging from men's bodies. The floor was carpeted in piles of brightly coloured marigolds and foliage. On the way back, we passed an avatar pandal. We went to visit south park street cemetary - a peaceful retreat from the busy streets. Inside, under the undergrowth, are the graves of the many British people associated with the east india trading company, who sadly succumbed to the many diseases that were rife at the time. Some didn't even last a month after arriving in India. The dream of making a fortune in India came with risks. There was a really lovely old groundskeeper, who told us about him almost losing his job after leaving the gate open the night before, and as we were signing the comments book, his wife phoned to remind him to lock the gate. Such a sweet man, with amazing English, and his lack of teeth made him even cuter. We had a relaxing drink at the hotel, and got an early night, ready to head to the and andamans.