Ok folks, these photos are not in chronological order, and are in fact in no order at all. I had to post at the lowest resolution because my connection is a bit slow. More photos with better explanations to come. Please enjoy. Love, Jeff.
Fun Tan Chocolate - Bitter, yet Fun. No lie.
On the campus of Visva Bharati University, Rabindranath Tagore's pride and joy. He also founded schools from kindergarten to high school. Classes are taught outdoors in the sun and under the shade of trees. Shubhra, one of our two 'local guardians', graduated with a Masters in Social Work for there.
One of our many furry neighbors. It's been interesting having goats, wild dogs, cows, and other lovable creatures roam free in my own proverbial backyard, and real backyard. This one has an interesting geometric-esque white patch. Oh, and it's true that goats eat absolutely everything.
This is a simple offering to one of the many Hindu Gods. To be honest, I'm not sure which one this is. It's been fun discovering this similarities and differences between the expression of faith and religion in the US and here in India. Since 86% of the country is Hindu, it seems there is a greater sense of openness about their practice. There was recently a festival dedicated to the godess of education, Saraswathi, and the community was out in full force. There were shrines built on nearly every street corner, young people got dressed up, and school was out for three days. There's a lot to this topic, obviously, but it seems more tightly intertwined with the societal structure and flow of life that in the US, but maybe this is just me coming from it with an outside perspective.
Loren and I were tasked with meeting Puthumai in Kolkata to act as couriers. So, we woke up early to hop the morning train to Kolkata from Bolpur. It was a nice three hour ride, and we had a good day getting a hang of the system. We actually met Puthumai in Howrah, which is a bit outside Kolkata, and had a chance to explire a Raj era bridge near the station. So many people in such little space.
Puppies! You might have to squint to see them, but there are a few in this photo. It's weird seeing so many wild dogs running around here. Dogs get so much attention in the US, but there just isn't enough for everyone here in India. Somehow, they survive. Their streets smarts are amazing - they deftly navigate the very busy streets much better than I. Some people adopt a pup or two, but for the most part they're on their own. Jack, our old boy at home, just wouldn't survive. Oh how good he has it. I love him; can't help it.
Here Lived John Cheap: This man was a local British administrator during the early nineteenth century. I assume he was directly involved with the British East India Company. Either way, it is known that he owned (or stole by force) a large plot of land that one of the two campuses of Visva Bharati University is on now. The area is called Sri Niketan, and is where the social work department where Shubhra studied is. Anyway, Mr. Cheap coerced (with the use of force) locals into providing their free labor for his indigo plantations. Ironic?
Friends from Bolpur. Loren and I, on one of our expeditions through the bazaar, met a few nice guys as we purchased a few shawls from their shop. Through that connection, we've had a chance to meet some other good fellows. This is us at the train station socializing. From left to right: Raj (red shawl), Salendra, Me, Sachin, Dibendu, Pankaz, and unknown. It was a good time that night. After hanging at Raj's garmet shop, we wandered over to the train station to meet some his friends. Pankaz is Raj's best friend, and is a great person. He is vehemot about considering himself a 'simple man'. He is good at speaking English.
Loren chatting with Salendra and Pankaz before the shop closed and we went roaming. The picture was taken by me from inside the shop and facing the street. The young locals we have talked to are very interested in the big wide world. They see the opportunities people find in the US, and are very attracted to them. At the same time, they seem to appreciate Bolpur for its relative safety and feeling of connectedness. We've only been here for nice days, and already we bump into people regularly. I couldn't imagine what it would be like living here my whole life. Pankaz loves to ask me, "At this time on a Saturday night at home, what would you be doing?"
Fantastic Four. Me, Puthumai, Shubhra, and Loren. We were eating at the Lodge Ashirbad, which is the hotel Loren and I stayed at for six days before moving into the headquarters of CKS (a house in a neighborhood). For the room, we payed only $6USD per night. On average, we ate two large meals a day - sometimes more - and ended up paying $33USD for all six nights and food. The staff was great too. Woo.
Shubhra and her fam in front of the house she grew up in. Her Father was an accountant for Visva Bharati for many years, and during her childhood they were housed on campus. It is regular practice for the University to house its faculty. The house was a bit run down, but Shubhra still loves coming back there and thinking of good times. These are her two sisters, their kids and husbands. From left to right - Snehendu, Bijoy, Indira, Shubhra, Chitra, Ton Moy, and Titli. A beautiful family.
This is an interesting temple looking building that Loren and I saw when we were exploring Howrah. I don't know much about it, but it was very photo worthy. It was taken from the Rabindra Setu bridge we walked on that took us across the Hoogly River.
This is Shubhra's beautiful yard. She gaves us a grand tour and showed us a mileau of fruit trees, herbs, and vegetable plants. She knows her way around the garden. To be correct, this is the garden at ther parents house. Very beautiful.
B, B, B, Burj, Burj, Burj, Burj is the word...sorry. We had a good time exploring Dubai during our seven hour layover there. There's a good story to tell about it, but that will come later. Here are us and the Burj Dubai. We didn't get to go inside, but got close enough to appreciate its size. It sounds like there are close to 175 floors. Wow.