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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Calcutta: Around 1958 a few of us off Mawana, in search of entertainment, called into the Great Eastern (off Dalhousie Square?). I recall a vast hotel with ornate fittings that had become a touch seedy, There were staff everywhere - the gents was staffed by grown children who offered to hold it for a fellow whilst he took a leak (I declined the offer), and then would wash our hands for us. I read online that our Queen stayed there in 1961 on a state visit - now I wonder if I've got the wrong place.
Any one else been to the Great Eastern?
 

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Calcutta: Around 1958 a few of us off Mawana, in search of entertainment, called into the Great Eastern (off Dalhousie Square?). I recall a vast hotel with ornate fittings that had become a touch seedy, There were staff everywhere - the gents was staffed by grown children who offered to hold it for a fellow whilst he took a leak (I declined the offer), and then would wash our hands for us. I read online that our Queen stayed there in 1961 on a state visit - now I wonder if I've got the wrong place.
Any one else been to the Great Eastern?
I remember going to the Great Eastern in 1961 or 2 when I was on the Mahseer. In particular the night club " Sherazade" where , being the lightest person in the group, I was selected to become the particapent in the east European roller skate group. The things we did.
 

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You have got the right place - they also made a mighty mean Tom Collins along with warm salty beer nuts. Cannot remember being offered the personalised toilet service though (guess the early seventies could be regarded as more enlightened?)

A sensible classy place to start a night ashore before later progressing into a haze of aloholic 'wisdom' elsewhere.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
You have got the right place - they also made a mighty mean Tom Collins along with warm salty beer nuts. Cannot remember being offered the personalised toilet service though (guess the early seventies could be regarded as more enlightened?)

A sensible classy place to start a night ashore before later progressing into a haze of aloholic 'wisdom' elsewhere.
Thanks Tony - I read that by 1970 the place was so run down the govt. took it over. It's now part of an Indian hotel chain and greatly esteemed and much extended. It used to be known as the Jewel of the East.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I remember going to the Great Eastern in 1961 or 2 when I was on the Mahseer. In particular the night club " Sherazade" where , being the lightest person in the group, I was selected to become the particapent in the east European roller skate group. The things we did.
Thanks, Ian. Hope you are doing OK in these strange times. If you can recall your impressions of the Great Eastern I'd be obliged - I'm attempting to include it the next volume of memoir. Meanwhile, I wander around the garden, setting out leeks, in the hope a few memories surface.
 

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Harry didnt we start there before our famous trip up to the dam we had met the Guy there then gone to his work a bakery I think.He was an American living in Calcutta.By the way just ggot a new Indian resteraunt here The Club Calcutta based on the British type eateries back then very nice and the owners are from Calcutta so talked some great memories.Keep safe Harry? cheers Skymaster
 

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Great Eastern Hotel/Grand Hotel...

As far as I recall the Sherazade Night Club was in the Grand Hotel on Chowringee and not in Dalhousie Square. Perhaps we are talking about different eras, as I am talking 1953 to 1967. The Grand Hotel was eventually absorbed by the Taj Group and greatly improved. Chowringee is called something else these days.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Harry didnt we start there before our famous trip up to the dam we had met the Guy there then gone to his work a bakery I think.He was an American living in Calcutta.By the way just ggot a new Indian resteraunt here The Club Calcutta based on the British type eateries back then very nice and the owners are from Calcutta so talked some great memories.Keep safe Harry? cheers Skymaster
Hello Mike - good to hear from you. My recall of the trip to Durgapur dam and the picnic is based on the photo that I think we both have. Don't recall being at the GE on that occasion - but sitting here, a hazy memory is nibbling away. The bakery: I'll need to think about that. You have provided some useful seeds that will likely germinate.

Enjoy your new curry house - I look forward to eating out again once we are liberated. Beryl is turning out some great grub, but she needs a break.

regards
Harry
 

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Discussion Starter #9
As far as I recall the Sherazade Night Club was in the Grand Hotel on Chowringee and not in Dalhousie Square. Perhaps we are talking about different eras, as I am talking 1953 to 1967. The Grand Hotel was eventually absorbed by the Taj Group and greatly improved. Chowringee is called something else these days.
Thank you Alistair. That note about Sherharazades being at The Grand on Cowringhee is useful. We are similar eras: I was up and down the Hooghli 1956 - 1961. I once Europe coasted a Jimmy Nourse ship called Hughli.
 

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Going slightly off topic - another Calcuta watering hole that springs to mind was the swimming Club. My memories of it are vague (age or beer?) but I know this was a day time haunt and close to the river buoys we used.

Wondering if that is still there>
 

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Harry, I worked for Brocks for over five years and can probably claim some kind of record. I never actually berthed in Calcutta itself. Went to Buj Buj twice on a Moss tanker but that is not what most people regard as Cal. Four of us got a taxi one night into Calcutta but did not visit the Great Eastern, I regret we were bound for some the seamier side of Calcutta's night life! All my other Brocks ships either went to Colombo or were on charter someone. On my first trip on Matra we discharged in Colombo and then loaded a full cargo of sugar in Bombay. The Captain was John Watson-Ross and he said in his whole career with Brocks he had never been to Bombay.
Enjoyed your book by the way. Well done.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Harry, I worked for Brocks for over five years and can probably claim some kind of record. I never actually berthed in Calcutta itself. Went to Buj Buj twice on a Moss tanker but that is not what most people regard as Cal. Four of us got a taxi one night into Calcutta but did not visit the Great Eastern, I regret we were bound for some the seamier side of Calcutta's night life! All my other Brocks ships either went to Colombo or were on charter someone. On my first trip on Matra we discharged in Colombo and then loaded a full cargo of sugar in Bombay. The Captain was John Watson-Ross and he said in his whole career with Brocks he had never been to Bombay.
Enjoyed your book by the way. Well done.
You did not dock in Kidderpore, Tony? That is unusual - maybe you were blessed.

Kipling writes in 'City of Dreadful Night':
"All India knows of the Calcutta Municipality; but has any one thoroughly investigated the Big Calcutta Stink? There is only one. Benares is fouler in point of concentrated, pent-up muck, and there are local stenches in Peshawur which are stronger than the B.C.S.; but, for diffused, soul-sickening expansiveness, the reek of Calcutta beats both Benares and Peshawur. Bombay cloaks her stenches with a veneer of assafœtida and huqa-tobacco; Calcutta is above pretence. There is no tracing back the Calcutta plague to any one source. It is faint, it is sickly, and it is indescribable; but Americans at the Great Eastern Hotel say that it is something like the smell of the Chinese quarter in San Francisco. It is certainly not an Indian smell. It resembles the essence of corruption that has rotted for the second time—the clammy odor of blue slime. And there is no escape from it. It blows across the maidan; it comes in gusts into the corridors of the Great Eastern Hotel; what they are pleased to call the “Palaces of Chouringhi” carry it; it swirls round the Bengal Club; it pours out of by-streets with sickening intensity, and the breeze of the morning is laden with it. It is first found, in spite of the fume of the engines, in Howrah Station. It seems to be worst in the little lanes at the back of Lal Bazar where the drinking-shops are, but it is nearly as bad opposite Government House and in the Public Offices. The thing is intermittent. Six moderately pure mouthfuls of air may be drawn without offence. Then comes the seventh wave and the queasiness of an uncultured stomach. If you live long enough in Calcutta you grow used to it. The regular residents admit the disgrace, but their answer is: “Wait till the wind blows off the Salt Lakes where all the sewage goes, and then you’ll smell something.” That is their defence! Small wonder that they consider Calcutta is a fit place for a permanent Viceroy."

Despite Kipling, Calcutta was not so bad in the 50s. It would depend on the season. A good Summer monsoon would sluice out the drains. Some sort of sauna-like relief to be had. Winter made you cough with the dung fires.

I'm pleased you've read the memoir. I'm working on a sequel now and again when I feel inclined. I've had contact with a reader of vol1, a retired academic. He was keen to know when the sequel is due. It could be a year. I don't want to keep him waiting - he is 101 years old - so I send him chapters that are done and his carer prints them off.
 

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Going slightly off topic - another Calcuta watering hole that springs to mind was the swimming Club. My memories of it are vague (age or beer?) but I know this was a day time haunt and close to the river buoys we used.

Wondering if that is still there>
The Calcutta Swimming Club shows on Google maps about 150 yards north of the Eden Gardens Stadium. I searched for Garden Reach, Calcutta but had to drag nearly half a mile upstream just short of the Howrah Bridge. Searching Eden Gardens was easier.
 

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THAT is exactly----

As far as I recall the Sherazade Night Club was in the Grand Hotel on Chowringee and not in Dalhousie Square. Perhaps we are talking about different eras, as I am talking 1953 to 1967. The Grand Hotel was eventually absorbed by the Taj Group and greatly improved. Chowringee is called something else these days.
----what I say!

Going to 'The Grand' on a Saturday afternoon and having seveveralteen G&T's (Indian gin as 'Gordon's' was too expensive!) was de rigeur! The only 'bad' part was, after being in the a/c'd bar for a few hours, going into the steamy heat as you went out of the hotel into Chowringee.

A night-out in 'Sherazade's' was brilliant too! Sitting 'out-back' enjoying the music etc. is another memory I cherish.

I used to 'finance' MY sojourns in Cal by buying four Favre Luba wrist-watches in Aden and flogging them to one of the 'Chinese' shoemakers who came aboard. The watches, (although 'gents'), had very small dials and were ideal for the slim Indian wrists. Phil
 

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'Seamier side----

Harry, I worked for Brocks for over five years and can probably claim some kind of record. I never actually berthed in Calcutta itself. Went to Buj Buj twice on a Moss tanker but that is not what most people regard as Cal. Four of us got a taxi one night into Calcutta but did not visit the Great Eastern, I regret we were bound for some the seamier side of Calcutta's night life! All my other Brocks ships either went to Colombo or were on charter someone. On my first trip on Matra we discharged in Colombo and then loaded a full cargo of sugar in Bombay. The Captain was John Watson-Ross and he said in his whole career with Brocks he had never been to Bombay.
Enjoyed your book by the way. Well done.
----of Calcutta's night life'.

'Isiah's' in Free School Street ring-a-bell Tony?(*)). Phil
 

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I remember Calcutta as the dirtiest filthiest place on Earth.

This story is the God's honest truth....

I went there as an apprentice on M.V. " Trecarne " with a load of 6,000 tons of petroleum coke from Port Arthur , Texas. It was a very fine black greasy powder used in an old way of smelting aluminium ore. I cannot imagine anything more dirty or filthy.

This cargo was discharged by hand by loads of *******, who scooped the stuff into baskets; then dumped the baskets into a 1 1/2 ton basket, which was hauled out by the ship's gear.

Towards the end of the shift, a huge number of jackdaws swarmed onto the deck rails. When the ******* came out of the hold, they were all coughing great gobs of black flecked phlegm onto the deck.

The obviously adult jackdaws swooped down and gobbled up this phlegm , then fed it to their fledglings sitting on the rails.

When we finished discharging , we left the dock and moored in the river Hooglie for ER repairs to finish and hold cleaning.

About 1/2 a mile up river, a ditch was discharging raw sewage into the River, which spread out in an arc in the current. Between there and the ship, along the bank people were " washing " their clothes !!!

As I was working , I saw a vulture pecking at a dead body, floating down stream on the tide. I drew the attention of a policeman who was gangway watchman to it.He said it was no bother.

When the tide turned the body came floating past again and grounded on the shore; whereupon a large pack of feral dogs descended on it and proceeded to consume it.

The thought of even going ashore in Calcutta, never mind eating or drinking anything there, just turns my stomach !!!

Seafarers rightly say " The Hooglie is the ****'ole of the World, and Calcutta is halfway up it !!!"

I do no know which is the worst, Calcutta or Bombay.

I do know Indians are the dirtiest filthiest people I have come across in my travels ( Perhaps apart from dockworkers in Port Sudan, who plat their hair with cow/camel muck- the origins of dreadlocks !!! )

When I was a young lad in Manchester, there was an Indian Restaurant on Oxford Street. They were prosecuted for having hundreds of tins of cat meat, which they used in their curry.

Then on my last ship we had an Indian crew and Ch. Std. I used to just get a sandwich for my lunch.

One day, I opened the pantry fridge door to see a dish of butter which had grown a fur coat. I promptly dumped it in the gash bucket.


A few minutes later, the Ch. Std. came in , fished the butter out and started to harangue me for wasting food !!! Then this nut case of an Ol' Man cma on the bridge and tries to tell me off !!!

How about that ?

ATB


Laurie.
 

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Another eccentricity of Calcuta / Indian coast was for the lads to buy highly coloured garish silk boiler suits. Not suitable for deck or engine room work but didnt seem too out of place in the ships bar!

And then those hideous leather flip flops (or thongs!!!!) with a big ring to stick your big toe thro and car tyre soles. Talk about uncomfortable - but seemd to work with the boiler suits.

Drunken seamen and little children!
 

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The Calcutta swimming club was a pleasant place to spend a few hours lazing in the sun and playing childish games. Several of us would climb on to the circular float close together so that it floated down on that side. Then the fun began - we’d all start running. As we got faster and faster the slope would increase until we all fell off in a jumble into the pool.
The other game was “jump or dive”. Several of us would gather around the springboard at the other end of the pool. Each of us took it in turns to run along the springboard as fast as we could. At the point of no return the watchers would either shout “jump” or “dive”. By that point, of course, it was too late to perform the required action and the result was an unseemly splash as the runner landed in the pool with arms and legs flailing.
The place was redolent of the raj and there were little signs in the grass around the pool: “Members are kindly requested not to partake of tiffin upon the lawns.” That said, the bearers seemed quite happy to serve us with the mandatory snack of egg and chips whilst we sat on the grass.
There are a few pics in my photos on the site.
Happy days,
Gwzm
 

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I put a photo----

Another eccentricity of Calcuta / Indian coast was for the lads to buy highly coloured garish silk boiler suits. Not suitable for deck or engine room work but didnt seem too out of place in the ships bar!

And then those hideous leather flip flops (or thongs!!!!) with a big ring to stick your big toe thro and car tyre soles. Talk about uncomfortable - but seemed to work with the boiler suits.

Drunken seamen and little children!
----on here a while back of all Officers on the boat-deck, (Makrana), after Xmas Dinner, (in Cal.) with we engineers all dressed-up in our 'highly-coloured' boiler-suits.

We had kept the 'Xmas-Day-boiler-suit-wearing' a secret and we weren't quite sure how we would be greeted when we marched into the Saloon but, luckily, the Old Man was Paddy Jackson and he lead the applause when we appeared, with 'The Duke of Bootle', (Dougie Ruddick) leading the way in HIS 'special' boiler suit. A great day! Phil
 
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