Dianna B Designs

In a Kolkata State of Mind

After 4 days in Kolkata I am already keeping time to a different tune. Kolkata’s music is almost deafening; like speed heavy metal; incessant honking as all vehicles from cars to rickshaws to bicycles have horns, Hindu temple bells, the security guard who announces his presence to all potential thugs at 2 a.m. Throw out everything you learned in Driver’s Education here because there are no lanes, driver’s don’t use indicators and there are few roads with lanes and pedestrians never have the right of way. The noise is a constant backdrop but you need to go with the flow here or else Kolkata’s intensity will break you. Of course it’s not just the noise; the smell of stinking garbage everywhere, the poor and down trodden then collecting said garbage to sleep on, the unrelenting heat and humidity and sitting all day in sweat soaked clothes, the emaciated stray cats and dogs, the flying cockroaches the size of hummingbirds, the decrepit sidewalks and building facades, the insanely aggressive salespeople, the daily multi-hour power outages, the constant staring eyes that follow you everywhere and not to mention the faces of the survivors of human trafficking with whom we are working.

Survival in the city makes me more impressed and awe-struck with the Indian people, how do they deal with this full on sensory assault every day? Most just flash warm smiles and go about their day, make a comment about that heat, (yes, they think it’s really hot, too) and go with the flow because here you just need to think of yourself as rubber rather than glass as the City smacks you around, or else you will crack. Dealing with the issues of the Jewelry Program is a similar battle. That is why the accomplishment of the Made By Survivor’s Jewelry Program is all the more sweet. Malleability, to use a jewelry term, is essential to survival and maintaining your composure. It is imperative to go with the grain rather than against, or else Kolkata will work you over.

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