As I write this, I do so in a pair of clean pants and a t-shirt, which should tell you that the laundry man did in fact come through for me. 17 pieces of clothing, washed and pressed, for a total price of $2.80. Not bad eh? Due to some lingering digestive issues that have wiped out my 1st arsenal of napkins just as fast as it takes for me to lose $5 on the keno machine back home, I decided it wouldn’t be the best idea for me to volunteer today. Only after I took 2 Imodium tablets to fix my problem did I have someone tell me at breakfast that blocking myself up is the last thing I should do. I guess we’ll see what more of the long-term consequences are with me doing this, but all I know is I’m liking the short-term results as I haven’t had to make a trip to the stall for the rest of the day so far.
While at breakfast, I had the opportunity to meet a couple new volunteers that just got into Kolkata and I couldn’t help but chuckle a bit on the inside when I realized I had become somewhat of the “veteran” volunteer that I, just like these volunteers, were ecstatic to meet upon first stepping foot here. “Want to go to a movie...just hang a right off Sudder St., go down to Lindsay Street and then hang another left at the next intersection. It’s right next to Domino’s Pizza and KFC.” “Internet? Most places charge about 20 rupee an hour, but if you need a computer that allows usb access, the only place on Sudder St. is “Netfreaks” and that is just on the left hand side of the road across from the Fairlawn Hotel...just look for the green sign and you can’t miss it.” “The Mother House? If you’re gonna take an auto rickshaw, they’ll try and get you to pay 40 rupee, but don’t pay over 10.”
After giving these people the “in’s and out’s” of Kolkata, the conversation as usual, took a turn to the traditional small talk questions of how long you staying, what brought you to Kolkata, what did you study at university, etc. In mentioning to one of the girls that I studied business, you would of thought that she too, had some digestive problems, with the facial expression she gave me. In recognizing this girl’s disapproval of my field of study, I of course had to kindly inquire deeper into why she felt this way and her argument was that “the only thing people in business care about is making a profit.” Despite me trying to offer her a more noble reason as to why people were in business and that there are indeed people that care less about profit and CARE MORE about bettering the lives of their people, their communities, and the world, I don’t think she was sold on my sermon and rightfully so I suppose, since I know she’d be able to pull many more examples of businesses that fit her profile than I could of mine and that’s sad to think about. Maybe it’s just me, but limiting business to just business gives me about as much fulfillment as watching “Jersey Shore” on MTV—entertaining for a few minutes, but sooner than later, I have to change the channel.
On a much more uplifting note, upon checking my email today, I was happy to find a flight itinerary in my inbox with one of my good friends John Doan’s name on it and that means I’m headed to Thailand for a couple weeks in March to meet up with him. If kindness alone was enough to make a person a celebrity, there’s no doubt in my mind that John Doan would be on the cover of every magazine. Maybe I won’t be able to say in my lifetime that I’ve won the Montana Powerball, but with respect to all my friends, I can definitely say I’ve won the Lottery of Friendship and that has made me much wealthier than what a $240 million dollar winning lottery ticket could make me. With respect to friendship, I think we can even say the odds of us finding these “winning friendships” are far greater than selecting the “winning ticket” in the Powerball. Think about it...we live in a world of around 5.6 billion I think. Assuming your friends in their lifetime build up a friend network of 50,000 people a piece, that would mean you’re one of the .001% of the world that ever has the pleasure to say “I knew so and so” and that 99.999% don’t have that luxury. If that’s not winning the lottery, I don’t know what is.