One of my main office-based projects at Calcutta Kids was launching a new website for the organization, which just launched last week. It’s a project I’ve been working on since late September, so the team at Calcutta Kids and I are thrilled that it is done! One might think that launching a website in India (where many US-based companies outsource these types of projects) would have been a breeze. However, I found many of the same setbacks as I have working with US web teams, and also many enjoyable diversions.
The unique elements of this experience included the blackouts, minor language barrier, and long discussions about Tagore, wireless Internet plans, Bollywood and Hollywood movies, homeopathy, clean water, and education in Kolkata. It was while new elements of the site were loading that I learned from the web team that West Bengal is not entirely friendly toward (who I thought was universally-loved) Gandhi. I also learned that when the power is out everyday for more than three weeks from 11am-6pm, there’s really nothing that can be done (perhaps also one of the reasons one of my web developers is an insomniac). The team’s office was a 40 minute walk from my house, which took about 30 minutes by bus, so I walked to most of our meetings. They thought this was borderline crazy and completely hilarious. I thought it was great because I got some exercise and I was walking toward an air conditioned office (something I don’t have at work or home). They thought this was even more hilarious (“you’re going to die in May!” they’d tell me).
One thing that my mentor told me when I arrived in Kolkata is that he’d try to give me as many experiences as possible so I could get a full understanding of what working in India is like. Over these past 7+ months, I really have had such memorable and diverse experiences – from working with community health workers in the homes of slum-dwelling families, to working with this riotous and wonderful web team, to joining in on the hiring process of new clinical staff for our office – and each has been full of learning for me.
It’s also a great sense of accomplishment completing a project like the website. Although many of my other projects are ongoing and will continue after I leave, this is a very tangible upgrade for Calcutta Kids, and is a much better outward demonstration of the amazing work that is happening on the ground each day. If you have time, check out the site!