There’s no doubt that Kolkata changes people, but I would have never thought it would change me to the point where I was comfortable riding on the back of a Salvation Army motorcycle in Kolkata traffic like I found myself doing yesterday. Of course, riding on the backseat snuggled up to Captain Ahil was a whole other comfort I needed to adjust to as well, but that was easy to do when at every stop of traffic you were surrounded around the same guy on guy moto combo. Here...two guys riding on the same bike are just two guys riding on the same bike—no debate necessary; whereas back home, many people might draw different conclusions from seeing that.
Another interesting observation I had while on the motorcycle was that a honk is much more pleasant on the ears when you’re the person doing the honking instead of the person getting honked at. It doesn’t make sense to me at all, especially here, but it’s true. I suppose we see the same kind of "honk phenomenon" in a lot of other aspects of life too though. One example of this would be how easy it is to judge or criticize someone else when it's much more "harder on the ears" to hear the same kind of judgment passed our way.
As to why I found myself weaving in and out of traffic on a motorcycle yesterday, I guess it all started with me making an inquiry with Captain Jon about where I could play badminton in the area. To some of you such an inquiry may come by surprise and to others...particularly those of you who have had the “pleasure” to play against me and lose about 20 lbs in the process, this shouldn’t be that shocking to hear about. I say this by the way with the highest amount of humility. What can I say...I love badminton! Why? I don’t know. I guess for the same reasons I like Dairy Queen dillybars, girls, March Madness, Howard’s Pizza, and lobster...they are all awesome? Maybe India and I don’t see eye to eye with respect to some things, but badminton isn’t one of those things and knowing this fact is what led me into Captain Jon’s office to see if he could point me in the right direction of where I could get a good “volley” in. As can happen with many conversations, one topic can lead to another as it did with Captain Jon and I, and before you knew it he was telling me that he loves table tennis and that he wanted to get a table at the Salvation Army but that it wasn’t in their budget. Long story short...I love table tennis too and informed Captain Jon that I knew of a "foreign resident" he was housing that might be interested in donating the funds to purchase a ping pong table as long as he’d let the "foreigner" purchase a badminton set for the center as well. Captain Jon kindly agreed to the terms of this deal and so there I was a couple days later snuggled up behind Captain Ahil on the back of his motorcycle to find the right equipment.
Where we went for the equipment and how long it took to find it isn’t important. All that really matters is that this afternoon the ping pong table was blessed, a tree’s been cut down in the courtyard for badminton and the dimensions of the court have been measured so let the games begin!
P.S. For now, I’ve decided that napkins will have the privilege of being my toilet paper substitute. Enjoy the Super Bowl for me and Go Packers!