I have been quite busy getting set up in Kolkata over the last six days. Our days have been long and jam packed.
I really like the feel of Kolkata. The city has so much character and hidden beauty. I love that the taxis are all Hindustan Ambassadors (with a fixed price so you don’t have to haggle with the driver) and I also love that there is an emphasis on the arts. It seems like there is so much to learn about this city and the authors, composers and movie directors that once called this place home.
The streets can get pretty crowded though. Sometimes a walk that is 3 or 4 blocks can be an overwhelming and exhausting experience. Its a lot of people, a lot of smells and a whole lot of noise. I had a really hard time with people staring at me the last time I was here and I was worried that would be a problem this time around. It seems to be less of an issue for me than I remember. So far, so good in that department. Except, I have found that when I am a little bit tired or dehydrated I feel particularly vulnerable and the heat, the staring, the smells and the noise makes me pretty uncomfortable. That feeling usually passes after I enjoy a meal or sit in an air conditioned building.
Despite all the craziness, there are some really great places for peace and quiet in the city. Today we went for a boat ride on the part of The Ganges known as The Hooghly River. The boat ride was during sunset which added to the whole experience because it wasn’t too hot and the lighting was perfect the whole time. I didn’t have my camera on me because I was trying to travel light. Although, I am glad that I actually didn’t have it because I got to soak in the whole scene with my eyes. At one point, I was lying on my back looking at the clouds and I just felt so grateful and content for the whole experience. We also went to the lake yesterday which was also nice. You can’t swim in the lake but you can walk around the lake and sit on one of the many benches under the mango trees.
Also, I have found an apartment. Finding a place to live was one of the first priorities in the program so it is nice to have that checked off the checklist. We looked at two places. Although it was still kind of difficult to make the final decision. It was like House Hunters International except we only looked at two places instead of three. My favorite part of the apartment is the rooftop. We happened to go outside during sunset and the view was incredible in a National Geographic sort of way.
I had the chance to meet the Principal, Vice Principal and some of the teachers from the school that I will be teaching at during our in-city orientation and then again during my school visit. I was initially a bit nervous to meet them but the minute we hugged, all of my anxiety washed away. They are wonderful and the school is great too. I cannot wait to start teaching!