Sunday, January 30, 2011


Despite travel websites discouraging you from wearing shorts in India if your goal is to "blend in," you'll find me comfortably writing this blog update in Gonzaga mesh basketball shorts, which I've been proudly wearing all around town yesterday and today as well.  The thing's impossible for me to "blend in" around here and only possible for me to stick out and when you get the feeling that the stares around town couldn't be any more than they already are, I guess you just stop caring about blending in...and getting to that point, caring less about blending in and CARING MORE about just being you...feels pretty good.  Tomorrow...I just might throw on my Zags baseball cap!

On Friday, I had the privilege of attending my first movie in Kolkata, which cost about $1.20.  If your wondering what differences there are, if any, that the India cinema experience offers compared to back has quite a few.  One, there isn't just one type of "general admission" ticket.  Instead, tickets are "assigned seating" and they are broken down into 4 different categories and the closest you are to the screen the cheaper the ticket.  For those of you who like to keep that extra seat between you and the stranger next to you at the cinema back home, this might not be the place for you.  Two, at least with respect to the cinema I went to in New Market, it had no movie previews before the actual showing of the movie so "showtime" here really means showtime and before you knew it the guy in "128 hrs" was tearing his arm off.  For those of you not familiar with the movie "128 hrs," it is a movie based on a true story of a guy from Colorado that had a boulder fall on his arm when hiking, which resulted in him needing to cut his arm off to escape.  Good movie good as a movie about a guy having to cut his arm off can be I suppose.  Three, and my personal favorite, the cinema here offers an intermission session, which in our case, occurred about 30 minutes into the movie and during this time they play crazy techno music and have guys walk the aisles trying to sell you popcorn and other munchies.  Needless to say, I'm already waiting to see what English movie is lined up for next week.

As for a volunteering update, I'd say I've gotten comfortable with the flow of things by now, but that will abruptly change beginning tomorrow as I begin working with more of a "long term" volunteer team that goes out into the streets and finds people with the greatest need for the different Missionaries of Charity centers.  I can't say this was a part of my plan while here, but if that's where I'm needed most, that's where I want to be most.  Today, I was given just a taste of what I'm going to be exposed to as the team I'll be joining brought a younger guy into Kalighat from the Howrah Station (train station) that was in desperate need of medical attention as his right hand was completely blown open and infested with maggots.  Prior to cleaning his wounds, we shaved the guy's head, bathed him, and then put him in the dressing room for the nurses to attend to his wound.  As far as what this experience left me with when walking away later in the day, I can say I now know what rotten flesh smells and looks like and I had to leave the room on two separate occasions in fear of almost passing out.  Two,  I now  know when offering my hand and a little comfort is all a person is asking for as this is what I extended to the guy on the operating table as we both watched as the nurse began cutting his finger off, at least that's what I'll call it here, when in reality, the piece of flesh getting removed looked more like a chew toy of one of the dogs on the street.  Three, I now know what kind of experience someone needs for the traffic and noise of Kolkata to fade away and become separated from reality as this is what happened on my ride back to Sudder St. in an autorickshaw. 

Despite my new area of service, I still plan on spending some quality time with the guys from Kalighat during the afternoon session that's offered and so my CARE MORE project is far from complete there.  Despite the nerf and squirt guns being hits at the center, I've decided to not bring them the last couple of days based on some of the feedback I've received from some of the more seasoned volunteers along with the fact that I haven't even had a conversation with the head Sister at Kalighat about what I can and can't bring.  Getting permission to do some stuff I'm fine with, but "to stop thinking" as another volunteer suggested for me to do since it's "better that way" is something I won't do.  Once you "stop thinking" you stop CARING MORE!



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