After about 5 taxi stops of my driver asking other people where the Mother House was located, I arrived just in time to catch the daily “thank you, thank you, thank you” song for last day volunteers and line up my Kalighat crew to hit the maze and get where we needed to go. With respect to the “thank you, thank you” song, this is a song all the Sisters and volunteers sing for “last day” volunteers as a way of showing their appreciation. Can’t say I’m a big fan of singing, but I am a big fan of appreciation and the song basically goes like this (insert clapping here)...”thank you, thank you, thank you...from our hearts,” “love you, love you, love you...from our hearts,” “miss you, miss you, miss you, from our hearts.” Sure...the Sisters don’t need to sing this song to the volunteers, but they do and I like that because it tells me they’re a CARE MORE kind of group.
After song and prayer, I was just about to head out when Sister Mercy Maria approached an Indiana guy and myself to see if she could use our “muscles” for the day and help out in delivering some supplies to a village on the outskirts of Kolkata. Of course, anything Sister Mercy Maria asks of you, it’s impossible to say no to and so we walked down to Shishu Bhavan and before you knew it I found myself in the backbed of a big truck weaving through Kolkata traffic with 7 other Sisters, about 6 other volunteers, and a bunch of supplies. Prior to this trip, I would have told you that there was nothing that could make a person actually feel safe in Kolkata traffic, but afterwards, I’ve come to the conclusion that as long as you have about 7 Sisters with you and they spend the entire drive reciting the “Hail Mary” and singing hymns like they did on our 1 hour drive, you’ll be at peace.
Once we arrived to the village, I’d say there were about 500 people all huddled together and dressed in every color of the rainbow and it was pretty cool to see. Speaking of color, I can’t back this up with scientific study or anything, but I swear bright colors make a person feel better. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with wearing the “doom and gloom” colors and I’m actually wearing a dull green shirt right now with a depressing faded blue long sleeve to compliment it, but I’m just saying thank god for the people that light up the day with their turquoise blues, bright reds, and gold because the world needs these colors. Ok...now back to the distribution of goods to the village. As far as goods distributed, the bulk of materials we handed out to everyone consisted of medicine, grain, and blankets. Because of a lot of chaos on the Sisters’ last visit to the village, they required everyone this time around to sit on the ground at which time we would take the bag they brought for supplies, fill them up, and bring the bags back to them. One of the more memorable parts of this trip was getting to work alongside a local village woman, who as a child was an orphan that the Sisters took in. Although this lady was only about 5 feet “tall” and lucky to be 90 pounds in weight, she had a personality that transformed her into a 6’6”, 260 pound Drill Sergeant that you just didn’t want to mess with. If she said, “blanket!” you got one. If she said, “slap yourself!” you’d do it too. Before you get the wrong picture of this lady, I do need to point out that along with her toughness she did bring with her a real big smile and although, it always sounded like she was yelling at people, I could tell she had a great balance of firmness and kindness and I can respect that since this is something I always strived to achieve in my prior employment and it’s a must have if your a CARE MORE kind of person and you want to be a successful leader in an organization. Kind of funny, but I would have never thought that I’d be getting a Leadership 101 class from an orphan in an Indian village, but I did.
Once all supplies were distributed, we hit the road again and on the ride back, I had my 1st “I’m not sure what this is, but I’ll eat it” experience thanks to a Sister that handed me a bag of what looked like home made rice krispie treats with some sort of funky fruit pieces. Quite honestly, I’m not sure if the pieces in the bag were fruit and they didn’t taste like any kind of fruit I’ve ever had, but just for my own peace of mind, I’m just gonna call the pieces fruit. In my experience, when someone gives you something to eat and your first mouthful immediately sparks a huge grin on the food donor’s face, there’s a good chance you got set up or something and you should probably spit out whatever you put in your mouth, but in this particular case, the big smile the Sister gave me was totally sincere as she just enjoyed seeing me eat something I’ve never had before. For the record, the Indian snack wasn’t that bad and it had a nice spice to it.
Once we got back into town around 2:30 p.m., I called the airport again and found out that my luggage had finally arrived. Prior to taking off to the airport though I secured some hotel accommodations on Sudder St for the next 4 nights at a hotel called the Super Guest House. My room is relatively clean (I’ve only seen one cockroach so far), it has a fan that works once you flick it a couple times and I do have my own shower that on a good day has about 1 minute of hot water so I guess that is pretty super. After getting my key to the place, I left Sudder St. (a.k.a. the place where taxis will charge you 4x the actual meter price) to grab a taxi driver down the road, whose name ended up being Serseraj. Serseraj actually gave me a good roundtrip quote to the airport and back of 1200 rupee (the quote taking into consideration the 45 minute wait he would have at the airport while I got my bags) and so I jumped in the back and headed out. After my last few taxi cab experiences who only spoke and understood Bengali, Serseraj and his broken English was a pleasant treat and I think he liked the opportunity to speak English just as much as I liked having a conversation in English and we covered all the bases of “small talk” from family (he has a wife, 2 daughters and 16 year old son that drives a motorcycle way to fast...even in monsoon season), marriage, business (he’s all about building relationships),religion, sports, weather, Kolkata traffic (he’s hit a pedestrian before), Indian women, vices (he likes a good cigar) etc. When the trip was all said and done, I got his phone number and we also made a stop to a local Indian dessert parlor where he treated me to a couple sweets. Yet again, the dessert shop offered me another “what am I eating” experience and although I’d still have to say I’d eat a Heath bar, preferably out of the freezer, before I’d eat whatever Serseraj got me, it wasn’t bad. My experience with Serseraj was also what I’d consider to be another CARE MORE encounter as he displayed a concern for his customers that you wouldn’t see from most taxi drivers and because of this, I can guarantee you it won’t be the last time I get a ride from Serseraj on my trip.
Last, but by far the least, the Zags won their 9th straight in a row now as they ended up beating Loyola Marymount Saturday night at home. Looks like Frenchman Mathis Keita is starting to get some good minutes off the bench and getting a better grasp of the system and that is encouraging to see since we’re gonna need some strong bench play come March if we want to make any noise this year. In other sporting news, the Seahawks play the Bears today and the Falcons lost to the Packers, which means if by some miraculous chance Seattle wins in Chicago today, they’ll get to host the NFC Championship game at home with the 12th man behind them.
Sorry for the double post day today, but I've just been trying to play catch up. Now I'm back to real time. Until next time.