I’ve come to find out that a gentleman on my floor at the Salvation Army makes residents lunch and dinner for a price of 20 rupee a meal and after a month of looking and smelling the dishes prepared by this guy twice a day, I couldn’t resist but inquire with him when I could join the table. His response... “Ha Ha Ha...too spicy for you.” Whether his meals are in fact too hot for me or not, I’ve decided to make my own decision on what’s too spicy for me and so I’ve got dinner tonight at the standard Indian time of 9:00 tonight. If this guy’s “spicy” is anything like the spicy a menu item supposedly has on the dinner menu, such as a Cajun Molten Lava Chicken Sandwich where in reality the “lava” is as hot as the temperature back home right now, I’ll be extremely disappointed. I guess we’ll see what happens.
After volunteering this morning and having my usual early afternoon nap that sadly only the retired and unemployed get the luxury of participating in, I decided to hang out at the Salvation Army all day and just see what the day would bring. Wouldn’t you know, I ended up having a conversation with a senior resident of the center by the name of Mike, who no joke, thinks we have a common bond since his name is Mike and my name is Tyson. Of course, I have no problem making the connection between our names, but that doesn’t keep Mike from telling me on nearly every encounter, “My name is Mike and your name is Tyson! Mike Tyson!” The conversation with Mike was what I’d consider to be a “pour your heart out” kind of conversation that left me trying to pick Mike’s heart back up off the ground, dusting it off, and giving it back to him and this kind of came to a shock to me as you would have never guessed to find such heartache in a guy with such a big smile. Having this experience with Mike, just reinforced to me how important it is like Sister Tina said, “to offer our love indiscriminately” because that way none of the “Mike’s” slip through the cracks. When it comes down to it, every community has their own version of Kolkata’s “poorest of the poor" I think, but they just come in a different disguise and it definitely doesn’t just come in the form of homelessness. What about the kid sitting at lunch by himself that no one says hi to. Or how about the secretary who is underappreciated at work by her boss and then at home by her husband. Or the business man that is all smiles during the day , all tears at night and all hangover in the morning. On the outside, Mike and many people like the ones mentioned above, might not wear the rags or the wounds like the people we take care of at Kalighat, but that’s not to say these people are in less need of love than the Kalighat patients and I think this will be one of the biggest truths I’ll walk away from Kolkata with and it’s something I fully intend to try and CARE MORE about once back home.
As for my dinner and the verdict of “spiciness,” I would recommend that you go with the Cajun Molten Lava Chicken sandwich as it will most likely be hotter and it will also keep you off the toilet all day. If you enjoy your meal with a cold alcoholic beverage as well and your in need of a bottle opener, let me know and I’ll send over to you one of the residents from here and he’ll open it with his teeth for ya like he did for me last night. A skill yet again that in my opinion is resume worthy.
Until next time my friends!