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  • Writer's pictureDiana Milena Lopez Avila

Calculta-La última parte

Living in Calcuta (Agosto 4 de 2010)

Como ya estoy acabando mi practica, debo escribir un reporte sobre lo que fue mi experiencia. Aca va la parte de cómo fue mi experiencia de vivir en Calcuta durante 7 semanas.

To be honest, at the beginning, it was hard for me to get used to the life style that I had to face here in Kolkata. During the first nights, I had second thoughts about my stay in Kolkata and I questioned myself about the decision to come here. However, as the weeks passed I began to like, love and enjoy this city so much.

Kolkata is an incredible city; yes, full of traffic, quite chaotic, as most cities in India, but Kolkata has something that makes it such a nice place. The food is just amazing; you can go to very fancy and expensive restaurants, such as Oh Calcutta! or Marco Polo. In the first one you get amazing Bengali food and in the second, Bengali and continental food. In both places the food is just perfect, not a single complain. But you can also enjoy the tasty food on the streets, for me the best place is next to Rabindra Sadan metro station. There you can find delicious somozas (3 Rs), sugar cane juice (7 Rs), chicken momos (12 Rs) and paneer roll (15 Rs), all are so good and you don’t need to spend that much money, just enjoy them! In Kolkata it is also possible to enjoy a very nice cup of coffee either at Café Coffee Day or at Baristas; the second one has more options but is quite expensive. Also, it is possible to have a tea or a coffee while reading a book at Oxford Bookstore in Park Street. And of course in Kolkata you can find the most delicious sweets in India (well I don’t know so many cities but this is what I’ve been told), sweets are so good, so milky, so soft, so delicious, my favorite “rasmalai”. As a conclusion, in Kolkata it is not possible to complain about food, everything is great.

In terms of getting around in Kolkata I’d say that Kolkata offers quite a big variety of means of transportation: ricksaws, auto.ricksaws, buses, metro, taxis, train. In my case I really like taking buses around Kolkata, they only costs around 6Rs and it is a nice experience. The buses are painted in light blue and are quite old, you always find a guy who shouts the destination and helps you getting inside the bus, also they give you these little papers that work as tickets. I’m going to leave Kolkata withou understanding the exactly purpose of these little papers. Taking the bus in Kolkata also allows you to see the city, the real Kolkata. Taking one of the buses that goes through Howrah is a must; you can see all the people walking around, all the buses trying to get more people inside, lots of street vendors that offer a huge variety of products and lots of poverty as well. Taking the metro in Kolkata is easy, there’s just one line, so you never need to do any kind of change. My favorite metro station is Rabindra Sadan, the reason is that while you wait for the train to come you can read some of the poems of Rabindranath Tagore, a Bengali writer who won Nobel Prize on 1913.

Another plus of Kolkata is that if you feel the need of doing something for others and help, there are plenty of options. At Mother’s house there is always place for a volunteer that wants to work a couple of hours a week or during the weekends. The tasks you can do are plenty, labeling the stuff of the kids, organizing the toys, decorating the doors and walls, feeding the children, playing with them. Well, hand is what is needed.

In general I’d say that living in Kolkata has been one of the most amazing experiences in my life. And as the moment to say good bye is getting closer, all the good memories begin to pass to my mind.

Things I'm going to miss from Calcuta (Agosto 4 de 2010)

1. Having 3 pieces of Rasmalai after lunch in the sweet shop in the corner near office, where I don’t even have to ask what I want because they already know.

2. Waiting for the metro at Rabindra Sadam while I read the poems of Rabindranath Tagore

3. Eating momos, somozas and sugar cane juice on the way out from metro station Rabindra Sadam

4. Taking a ricksaw to go to City Center

5. Going to mass at the children’s house in Dum Dum metro station at 6:30am and taking the same auto-ricksaw, the driver already knows me and a smile is enough to let him know that I need his help in getting on time to mass.

6. Having paneer roll on my way from office to the PG and being able to talk to Paul, the manager of the restaurant.

7. Having pan after eating my paneer roll. The guy that does it already knows me and I don’t need to ask what I want because he already knows

8. Talking to James while I wait for my bus after going to the children’s house. James is an Indian man of around 50 years old who doesn’t speak that much English, but from the first day he always receives me with a smile and says to be that we are friend and he’ll pray for me as I should pray for him.

9. Having a caffe late and a paneer tikka sandwich at Café Coffee Day while I read my book

10. Having tea in the middle of the morning and in the middle of the afternoon

11. Taking any of the buses light blue where I get those little papers that work as tickets, where I have to pull a robe in order to let the driver know that I want to get out.

12. Going to see Bollywood movies at City Center

13. Enjoy the amazing Bengali food, cheap, expensive, simple or luxurious, always is just great!

14. Taking an auto-ricksaw with 4 other people plus the driver.

15. Looking at the smiles of the girls at children’s house while they call me “anti” and hold my hand

16. Having breakfast after mass. It's a simple but meaningful one. Tea, croissants (as the ones that are giving at the airports, in fact all the biscuits are giving by what it’s not given or sold at the airport), butter and jam. Plus a huge amount of love.

The list can go longer and longer but I guess these are quite the most significant

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