Tuesday, May 27, 2014


It's Tuesday morning in Kolkata, and it's raining again. It's rained the last 2 days as well. I find the rain here to be enjoyable and also not so enjoyable. It definitely cools the weather off and breaks the heat some. However, it adds to the mugginess. And when it rains, the smells outside become overwhelming to me. We were told to wear close-toed shoes when it rains, because all of the dog and cat feces and urine become mixed in with the rainwater that floods the streets. I of course forgot my close-toed shoes. But I like to live life on the edge. ;)

View from our roof of the rain clouds rolling in on Sunday.
Nirmal, the caretaker has two young daughters. Their names are Kumkum and Lalita. They are beautiful and smart and curious and I am already in love with them. Kumkum is 8 and Lalita is 6 (or 4...I have trouble remembering my Bangla numbers!) The other day I gave them each a decorated envelope containing the four coins from the states. I taught them how to say "quarter", "dime", "nickel" and "penny". It was fun to teach them, and they were perfect students...slowly rolling the English words off their tongues, rolling the R in quarter, so that it sounded more like "corrrtor". Nirmal and his wife and kids live a floor above us, so I get to see Kumkum and Lalita often. I showed Nirmal my blog and he thought it was really cool, especially that there was a photo of him on here (shaking the flowered tree). When he saw the list of countries that have visited this blog posted on the wall near the door (we're up to 11 so far) he inquired about how to read the list, so I went through the name of each country with him, slowly sounding out the English letters/sounds. He enjoys learning new words in English, so I teach them to him and in return he teaches me Bangla words/phrases. He likes to hear my pronunciation and chuckles at my inability to roll my Rs/even wrap my head around the sounds he's making! 

In our first class TJ told us that the language barrier is one of our greatest assets here, because we are forced to rely on facial expressions and body language to communicate. This is so true, and now I see... my interactions with Kumkum and Lalita, who speak little English past the "Halloooo!" they yell when they see me, are based purely on gestures and facial expressions. It reminds me of a CSNY quote from their song Wooden Ships. "If you smile at me, I will understand. 'Cause that's something everybody everywhere does, in the same language".

I love to smile at them, and they love to smile at me. Sometimes that's all we do, is stand in the stairwell and smile at each other. And this makes me feel at home here.

I'm off to shower and start my day. Hoping for the continued cool weather, but it would be nice to not be soaking wet today!

We waited out a downpour yesterday under an overhang in the central terrace of this apartment complex in Sonagachi.

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