I’ve kind of fallen behind on my posts, which makes a day like today a little bit harder since I have to dive into what I’d call my “messy room” of a mind and see if I can’t find the “straggler socks” of events buried in there for all of you. Let’s try checking underneath those Gonzaga mesh shorts on the ground 1st shall we?
Aw yes! There’s one! Went to the horse races yesterday with my Dutch friend “Yawn” (Jon) as he’s never seen a live horse race before and after having the usual taxi try and rip us off by taking us the “long way” to the track, we made it safe and sound right before the 1st race was to begin. Although the racetrack itself is still very well in the heart of Kolkata, the vantage point of the city when inside the stadium makes you think you’re far far away and finding places around here that can give you that feeling of disconnect for me is like the warm shower I don’t get anymore and it feels lovely. What also feels lovely is winning a few bets while at the horse races, like we did, and treating your winnings in rupees as if they held the same value as American currency. Saying you’re a $600 winner just feels better than saying you’re a $13 winner and I know “Yawn” would endorse this logic as well since it means he gets a couple free drinks out of it.
After the horseraces, I was then invited by “Yawn” to celebrate later in the evening the “Chinese New Year” over in the Chinese district of Kolkata, which was fun to experience for a number of reasons; two of the more significant activities being getting to hang out with the 85 year old chief village elder of the area who can, with the dial of one quick phone number, get anyone, anywhere, anytime a Chinese Visa and secondly, getting to visit the neighborhood Buddhist temple where we got to visit with a monk for a bit and that experience like the horsetrack, left you with that “warm shower” feeling....on second thought...maybe this was even a little hotter this time as if you twisted the “hot” dial of the shower a couple more notches to the left...the type of shower that leaves you needing to wipe down your bathroom mirror when it’s all said and done.
The day before the horseraces, I thought I’d put my “celebrity” status to the test yet again in trying to convince an armed military officer at the entrance of Fort Williams to grant me access to their 18 hole golf course, but I failed miserably. Couldn’t tell you I actually heard the officer tell me “no,” but I figured the “shooing” motion he continued to give me was a good indicator of that and so I decided to leave before he actually got the flyswatter out and finished me for good. If any of you reading this have high military connections at Fort Williams, let’s talk.
In thinking back on the last few activities I’ve been doing and/or trying to do here, I have to acknowledge that I’m a little home sick. This isn't a "Tyson pity party" by the way! I mean I don’t eat a lot of candy back home and here, I find myself eating “snickers” bars just because when I do, I’ve realized engaging in anything relatively close to what I’d consider to be “American” has a way of bringing India and me, closer to home. Don’t worry...my homesick isn’t at the point where I can’t sleep at night or I’ve lost my appetite, nor will it reach that level, but being in a place like Kolkata definitely makes you miss a lot of things back home and this is a good “homesick” to have in my opinion and it’s something I wanted my Kolkata experience to ignite in me since it makes you CARE MORE about everything you have in life.
With respect to volunteering, I’m still trying to learn the ropes of things and the different routes around the station, but I’m getting there. A couple days ago, we took in a guy that had a very advanced type of tuberculosis. You hear someone cough up phlegm back home and in most cases, they’re just “fighting the cold,” but here when you here that, you know the person is more than likely fighting for their life. I’m still trying to grasp why it’s us needing to pick these people up off the streets or at the station instead of it being one of the hundreds of thousands of locals that walk by every day. Seeing this makes you want to grab the people by the neck sometimes and say...these are YOUR PEOPLE DA**IT! SAVE THEM! In their defense, I guess you could say I’ve been guilty of being indifferent to other people at times too. If I was to count how many times I’ve driven past someone stuck in the snow, I’d have to say I’ve driven past the car more times than I’ve stopped and I don’t like acknowledging that fact since it reveals in me the very thing I want to wring the necks of Kolkatans over and that’s an indifference to helping their neighbor. Sure..on the one hand you have a person dying and on the other you have a person just at risk of being a little wait for work, but still...I didn’t CARE MORE in those instances and that bugs me to think about.
That's it for now, but I'll rummage through my "room" later tonight and see if I can't find any memories hiding underneath the bed. Happy Thursday to all!