2010-06-18 -- Agra to Chaing Mai Kolkata

We were supposed to fly to Chaing Mai today, but thunderstorms between here and there made us think twice. At the pilots meeting, we decided to stop at Kolkata (more or less halfway) and check the weather again (and get fuel). Just when we landed the storms built up enough and we stopped for the day.

We didn't see much of anything in Kolkata, and were overwhelmed by the number of people, the dirtiness and the huge amount of partially finished (or partially destroyed) buildings. As far as first impressions go, Kolkata makes a very bad one.

I'm cheating here, but on the drive back to the airport (tomorrow, as you read this, or a week ago as I write this) our driver was pointing out buildings, with some amount of pride. "That's Science Center", that's the second mall, that's the big mall, etc, etc. I realized that he is used to the crowdedness and the filth (OK, dirtiness, which sounds less harsh) and the unfinished buildings. That's just the way things are. The new stuff (the malls, Science Center, etc) are new and exciting. Or, perhaps this effect is due to remnants of the caste system. Near the end of the drive (the first picture tomorrow) I was able to somewhat ignore the nasty bits and "see" only the good bits. And I'd have to agree, maybe Kolkata is (was?) pretty.


Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/1250 sec, f/2.7, ISO 80
Propane delivery bike. Shot from a car, on the way to the airport.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/500 sec, f/2.7, ISO 80
"Gems & Art Gallery" in Agra. Bronze lions and women, oh my!



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/500 sec, f/2.7, ISO 100
Near the airport in Agra, a cow, a guy on a motorbike and a guy sitting on a concrete barrier. Except for being slightly cleaner, and with slightly fewer people, this is typical of Agra.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/250 sec, f/8.0, ISO 80
(See the next picture)



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 9.4 mm; 1/200 sec, f/9.0, ISO 80
The Indian Air Force out for training. While we were starting / waiting for clearance / taxiing to here, we heard these guys asking for permission to go. Tower kept telling them (paraphrase) sorry, no flights if the temperature is above 40 degrees C -- it was exactly 40 degrees, as tower kept telling them. They kept asking, and tower kept refusing, until finally they gave up, started going back...when tower called back and said (paraphrasing) OK you've been cleared by the higher-highers, have a nice flight. They took off one after the other, not in tandem. Tail numbers are K2730 and K2694.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/320 sec, f/8.0, ISO 80
Trouble ahead!



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/30 sec, f/2.7, ISO 80
As we'll soon find out, the trouble is right over Gaya, GGC on the map.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/640 sec, f/8.0, ISO 80
Fluffy clouds.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/800 sec, f/8.0, ISO 80
BIG fluffy clouds.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 9.4 mm; 1/40 sec, f/3.2, ISO 320
Radar is showing noting dangerous out there....



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 9.4 mm; 1/500 sec, f/9.0, ISO 80
...but they sure are big and scary looking.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/800 sec, f/8.0, ISO 80



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/800 sec, f/8.0, ISO 80



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/800 sec, f/8.0, ISO 80



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/640 sec, f/8.0, ISO 80
We had to turn slightly to the right to fit through here.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 7.8 mm; 1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO 80
The clouds were here, almost directly over Gaya, VOR GCC.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 9.4 mm; 1/160 sec, f/9.0, ISO 80
Long(ish) final into Kolkata. Jeffrey, about an hour later, hit a microburst right about here. YIKES!



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/80 sec, f/8.0, ISO 80
Kolkata, from the air.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/60 sec, f/8.0, ISO 80
Kolkata, from the air.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/80 sec, f/8.0, ISO 80
Kolkata, from the air.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/60 sec, f/8.0, ISO 80
Kolkata, from the air.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/60 sec, f/8.0, ISO 80
Kolkata just before the airport.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/200 sec, f/8.0, ISO 80
On final into Kolkata. Maybe this is the first view of the airport Jeffrey got, after the microburst.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 9.4 mm; 1/640 sec, f/3.2, ISO 80
The fire station at Kolkata India. Along the side wall is the "fire hose drying ramp".



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 9.4 mm; 1/160 sec, f/9.0, ISO 80
Building a new terminal at Kolkata, and a barricade on the tarmac (the line of broken bricks is the barricade). I'd hate to be the first to run over this with a plane....



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 9.4 mm; 1/80 sec, f/9.0, ISO 80
An Alliance Air Boeing 737, tail number VT-EGH.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/400 sec, f/2.7, ISO 80
Just finished fueling in the rain. The car is a Hundustan Ambassador; they're all over the place here.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/320 sec, f/2.7, ISO 80
Fueling in the rain.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/320 sec, f/2.7, ISO 80
One of the better buildings in Kolkata. Between the green one and the water tank is a typical building -- a concrete frame.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/250 sec, f/2.7, ISO 80
This is a reasonably typical Kolkata street, only there are no Ambassador taxis. The sky was darker in reality, and the buildings were more crowded.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/500 sec, f/2.7, ISO 250
I like busses. They're usually highly personalized (named, curtains, colorful paint, etc, etc). This one conveniently told us where the bus pilot sits. "What altitude are you driving at?"



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/80 sec, f/2.7, ISO 80
This wasn't my favorite bus, but I wasn't ready for it, and never saw another one like it. This bus says, "STOP", "DANGER", "HORN PLEASE", "OBEY THE TRAFFIC RULES". My favorite one continued by saying "GOOD LUCK" on the mudflaps.

On the ride from the Agra airport to the hotel, our driver told us the three most important things to have when driving in india. Good horn. Good brakes. Good luck.



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