I waited to do my “first days in India” post for the sake of a little perspective. I’m still a highly confused individual, but I have come to realize a few things (or maybe not, I’m not really sure):
1. It’s ‘cool’ to use the old spelling: Calcutta
2. Calcutta isn’t the type of scary, dirty, and crazy I was lead to believe before I got here. Scary, dirty, and crazy all mean different things to different people. Yes trying walk across the roundabout at Park Circus could be considered life threatening, but I like to pretend I am playing “frogger” (except I don’t get any points when I swallow bugs). Yes, upon returning from a bike ride I find that wiping my face with a white napkin will result in a fairly accurate measurement of the day’s air quality, but I consider this more sad than dirty. Now crazy, well I just straight up love the crazy.
3. Tagore, Vidyasagar, Satyajit Ray, Gosh: I have barely scratched the surface of the literary and cinematic richness this city has to offer. Endless suggestions from everyone ranging from my neighborhood DVD Wallah to my brilliant Bengali tutor ensure that I will not run out of amazing books and films to experience (the Kolkata International Film Festival starts today, and I am really looking forward to seeing in full Satyajit Ray’s “Sikkim” which has been “double censored” in India since it’s creation).
4. Bengalis not only know how to throw a festival, they know how to have a good time during said festival. Witnessing the madness that is Durga Puja in Calcutta is something that I will never forget.
5. Calcutta is unique for an expat living in India: There aren’t that many of us here. Sure, you get the usual 1 or 2 night Lonely Planet crowd roaming bewildered around Sudder Street, but that herd rarely wanders further than a two block radius from their hotel. They must have heard of the evil Calcutta monsters that lurk about prying on the unknowing tourist. For this reason I find myself staring in true Indian fashion whenever I see an unknown foreigner around my neighborhood. I have, however, been very fortunate to meet some great (Indian and expat) friends so far. I’ve also been visited by a few fellow Fellows, which are by far my favorites of course!
6. I am really enjoying my work. Anudip is a fantastic organization with some real talent, and I am excited to be part of this foundation. As I feel my role here materializing I find myself becoming more aware of the importance of the work we are doing (More on this in later posts, of course).
7. This city is going to grow on me in more than one direction.
Well, so much for my “Customary unremarkable ‘First Days In India’ blog post in standard numerical format”. Hopefully from here on out my posts will be as unique as this scary, dirty, and crazy city I’m lucky enough to call home.