February 2, 1987 Calcutta
Bhagbazar: In India the outside is always bad and the inside is good. The streets are filthy. Garbage, no organization, defecation everywhere, pan expectorate in every corner, yet inside the homes things are generally clean and sweet. In order to survive here you must be able to shut out the external in everything.
Today we spent the whole day in downtown Calcutta. It’s insane. I am exhausted. This trip is go go go. No time to sit still. We get up by 6 AM, go out by 8 AM and return by 8 or 9 PM. We eat on the run. Tomorrow we’ll leave Calcutta for Mayapur at 6:30 AM, we’re booked for the whole day. We’ll interview Nimai Chand Goswami at Shrivas Angam in Navadwip. The next day on Wednesday we’ll go to Birnagar and try to photograph the Jivani. That may take a few days, we won’t know till we see what’s there. When that is finished we’ll go to Santiniketan and Midnapur. No stopping. It hard going, but at least we are getting tremendous work done. Some of the interviews we’ve done are amazing. I have a much better idea of what the Gaudiya Sampraday is, who TBV really was, what Bhaktisiddhanta did, what happened to the Gaudiya Maths and what ISKCON is. I can now appreciate what Bhaktisiddhanta and Bhaktivedanta did.
Today we spoke with Radha Kanta Cakravarti for almost 4 hours, an amazing conversation, very revealing. He gave me some good ideas. He also confirmed that I am into something good and on the right track. Today we also went to the West Bengal Government archives in order to get TBV’s government service record. I could not get it, but I now know how to get in. It will take some time. We went to Calcutta’s all India book fair. A fantastic show. Every book published in the country was there. So far this trip I’ve spent a fortune on books. But what can I do? So far this trip my health is holding up (knock on wood). Feet are a little sore. But God we’ve done a lot of walking. It’s interesting that almost every day we never know when or how we will eat or sleep. But each day we do nicely. Krishna makes all arrangement for us. Traveling is good because you learn to depend on Krishna. Every day is different, but every day Krishna provides.
Tomorrow is Sarasvati puja. All of Calcutta is in a festive mood. Statues of Sarasvati are everywhere, they sell them like Christmas trees on the street in lots. It will be a holiday tomorrow. The Bengalis really know how to have a good time. Calcutta has a lot of life. Surprisingly it is not as depressing a place as you would think.