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On Second Thought....

Kolkata Travel Blog

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Each day I spend in Calcutta, each time I walk down an alley, each time I see a beggar on the street, and every time I walk to Mother Theresa’s through the Muslim section, I see it in a different way. Each time I view it less and less through a prism of fear and danger based solely on the differences between my way of life and theirs. Familiarity soon takes the place of shock and discomfort and allows me to see people and things for what they really are instead of a perceived threat to my safety. This isn’t to say that I now view the Muslim section as a desirable place to live. It isn’t by any human standard and will never be anything close to that. But if you look closely and allow yourself to part the veil of fear you see signs of community, family and pride. People sweep their sidewalks every morning. They bath, albeit on the sidewalk. Women comb their hair.  Men kibbutz with their neighbors and laugh and complain loudly as they point to posters of politicians on the utility poles, all claiming a better government if only votes would be cast their way in the upcoming India general election. School girls hold hands and laugh as they walk home dressed in their Muslim school uniforms. As I walk past a Mosque and glance through the doorway I see men praying. The food the locals prepare for sale in stall after stall actually looks delicious and is not too different from the fried dough we buy at summer carnivals. And in a way, because there’s no other choice, their society functions efficiently. Nothing goes to waste, unlike American society where waste is as shocking as the desperate poverty is here. All garbage is piled in a vacant lot where the cows, dogs, goats and crows all go to work at it. And talk about a tight knit community, try taking a communal bath with 6 of your neighbors on the sidewalk every morning. 
merk says:
Hi Gary,
Glad to see everything is going well and that your frame of reference is expanding. I am amazed that people in the poorest of countries always seem so happy. Maybe they have lower expections which makes them better equiped to see the true beauty in what life has to offer. Maybe they are just better at living life than we are. In the U.S. we never have enough and we are never good enough. Too much clutter, too many choices. Do we really need 20 different types of wheat bread in the grocery store?

I'm off to Mexico next week but keep the posts and pics coming. Enjoy your journey...

Best wishes to the other lurking merks.
Posted on: Mar 22, 2009
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