As I sit on the plane looking out of window to see the sun set on Bulgaria we already feel a long way from Kolkata yet all of us know that the experience will be close to us forever.
I don’t anticipate making many more blog posts after this so I feel in this one I need to round things off and make some kind of sense as to what the week has all been about.
Firstly can I thank all of you who have been reading the blog. By knowing you are able to share this experience with me makes it even more worthwhile and I especially thank those who have taken time to message or comment on my posts.
Secondly I had requests for pictures of the money and the hotel so here you go.
So where do I begin to sum up these 10 days? I suppose I will start by sharing the things that have surprised me. I have been lucky in my life to travel some some amazing places around the world but I don’t think I have ever been anywhere as polluted and dirty as Kolkata. I felt I was getting ill just by going outside for half an hour on the roads nearby the hotel and so who knows the effects this is having on the local population who have lived here their whole lives. The amount of litter is astonishing and people were dropping it on the floor outside without any care for the cumulative results.
Initially I was really surprised by how the locals would walk (and even herd goats) all over the busy roads, often risking their lives but then it occurred to me that this is because the pavements had essentially become people’s houses and businesses and it was actually far easier to walk in the road than step over everything that lay in your path if you went on the pavements.
A pleasant surprise to me was the contrast between city and countryside – just as the city seemed to lack any control, the surrounding villages seemed to have structure and order.
Pleasantly, considering the amount of poverty and the amount of people on the streets, Kolkata never seemed a threatening place and all the people we met were genuinely friendly.
When considering all of the above, the thought that comes to mind is that someone should be doing something about it. Well that is what Rig and the team at the CRS are trying to do. It might only scratch the surface but if they can make a difference to just some children’s lives then the future of the city will be brighter. The team Rig has assembled are dedicated to improving lives and I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to support this in a small way.
So farewell India, farewell Kolkata and farewell Hastings School. I will not miss worrying about getting ill from the food, or having to constantly use hand sanitiser, but I will definitely miss you and look forward to having the opportunity to visit again at some point in the future.
This is the baby I asked you to spot in a previous picture.
It is children like this for whom school is the only structured part of their day.
A busy market place with Spider-Man keeping watch!
Having a morning wash in the road.