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Falling in love with Calcutta!

MARCH 24, 2017 | INDIA - SHANTI

Namaskar dear friends and family!

Greetings from the beautiful, hot, historic city of Calcutta. This past week has been packed full of exploring both the wonderful city as well as the privileges we have all been blessed with.

For the past six days, the group has been volunteering at the Mother Theresa Home for the Destitute. Our typical day starts with breakfast at 7am and then splitting up to travel across the city to the individual homes set up by the Mother House. Some of us worked with children and toddlers in one house, others worked with young girls and women who have been abused, raped, and/or left to fend for themselves, and the rest of us worked with people who have possibly a few months, weeks, or even a few days until death. Most of the people staying in a home provided by the Mother House has some form of mental and/or physical disability. Though we were in different homes, we were all doing similar jobs like hand washing laundry (I think we all have a new appreciation for washers and dryers), feeding people, taking individuals to the bathroom, playing games, as well as changing and helping people with daily activities that they needed for self care. For all of us, the experience was in the beginning overwhelming, and intense, but incredibly humbling.
We experienced through first hand experience the privileges we have such as being able to walk, use the bathroom, create thoughts, and develop ourselves as independent individuals.

Each day by 12 pm we were done with our service and we would have the entire afternoon to explore the city. We all have loved the delicious street food such as Momo’s, Dosa’s, fresh juice, Kathi Rolls, and Samosa’s as well as getting the freedom to be on our own to take the Metro to a different side of the city and experience a new side of Calcutta.

After spending a week in Bodhgaya learning about Buddhism, coming to Calcutta has been an interesting mixture of Catholicism from the Mother House as well as large Muslim influence coming from the culture of the city. On top of the mixtures we feel between religion, we took a visit to the Queen Victoria Memorial where the British spent decades influencing the city with a European vibe. Though we only got to spend an incredible week here, it is clear to us how unique and special Calcutta is compared to the rest of India.

In addition to this exceptional city, we also got the opportunity to take a day trip the Sunderbans, which is a collection of islands leading to the Bay of Bengal. We enjoyed a lovely day riding on a colorful boat and drinking chai, as we looked for the wildlife such as crocodiles and Bengal tigers that inhabit the National Park of Sundarban.

As we have almost reached the half-point of our stay in India, the group is embracing India and its beautiful chaos with open hearts. Next stop is to Delhi for a day and then Rishikesh to stay at an Ashram! We are all looking forward to a break from the noisy cities and to spend some quiet time in nature.