Monday 10th Nov
The team arrived safely after a marathon journey and something of a culture shock upon a traffic-ridden whirlwind tour in Dubai city – only one team member intrepid enough to put a toe in the Persian Gulf (does this bode well?).
Even greater but considerably better culture shock upon night-time arrival in Kolkata – as one might imagine ….
A very friendly meeting and warm welcome at St Andrew’s Church – tea and biscuits.
The cemetery gatehouse suddenly loomed after forcing our taxis through one of the most hap-hazard street-scapes in the world – newly-cleared, a vast expanse of crumbling remains, the occasional banyan and palm still standing and enormous piles of newly-felled bush. The good news was that no snakes emerged during clearance so we may make it through in one piece …… Today we explored the site and assessed what might be done – with all the planning in the world one has to accept that there must be some adaptation and considerable flexibility required – day 1 is certainly the most worrying moment. So … we simply started by plunging right in with each of our planned for tasks as a tester ….. ancient and venerable Scots are now begining to emerge from the jungle to be photographed, planned, described and assessed – we have already encountered many jute workers, a tea planter, an American sailor, Anglo-Indians and the odd dissenting Welshman. There is great poignancy here – so many expired at such a young age … the towns and villages of origin are scrupulously recorded … Duffus, Paisley, Broughty Ferry, Sutherlandshire, Inverkeithing, Fife, Campbelltown, and many from Dundee …. Sweaty and swooning (that’s us by the way), we were revived by a hot cup of strong sweet tea brought to us in miniature deisposable hand-thrown pottery cups … organised by Manish Chakroborti, our host architect and cemetery expedition collaborator …. The RCAHMS attachment suitably pulling their weight, you will doubtless be glad to hear ….. !
We compare notes this evening and plan for the rest of the week over a Kingfisher or two….
Stay posted- photographs will follow shortly (when I work out how to up-load them and remove any unflattering ones …) ! We will update this blog after work each evening this week between 6pm and 8pm (between 1 and 3pm UK time). …… more anon …
p.s. James, Nick, Clare and I were all interviewed on film by a Reuters journalist almost as soon as arriving on site – tried desperately to sound reasonably in control of our faculities – look out for the press exposure …. !