Kolkata to Bhubaneswar

(September 20-21)

On our last full day in Kolkata we returned to Mother Teresa’s house to see the museum and her tomb which were closed on our Friday visit. Petals shaped into words on Mother Teresa’s tomb read – ‘YOU DID IT TO ME’. This seemed a little sinister but one of the nuns explained that it was a bible reference. Any of the work that Mother Teresa did such as feeding the poor and looking after those with leprosy was done in the belief that she was doing it for Jesus. There’s been a lot of controversy around Mother Teresa and a statement in the museum denied allegations that Mother Teresa would only help Christians or converted the people she helped to Christianity.

Mid-morning we visited a colonial cemetery which claimed to have an ‘Architectural Fusion’ of tombs. We’re learning that ‘fusion’ is a popular word in India used to describe everything – food, clothing, architecture. It’s been interesting that despite the number of temples and sites in Kolkata, our guesthouse and driver continued to assume we would be more interested in visiting colonial sites.

We then hit the local shopping complex which was a stark contrast to the streets of Kolkata. We had some amazing food chosen by Jeyaletchmi (letchmi), watched a hindi movie, ‘Kati Bati’, and went clothes shopping at ‘FabIndia’ where we bought some clothes for placement. I picked up some Kurtis (long tunics), churidars (leggings) and a dupatta (scarf/wrap). When I told the shop assistant that I had plenty of pairs of black leggings to wear with my Kurtis he said ‘Madam, you need to be more colourful’. Clearly he’s seen my last 7 years of travel photos! Georgie and I found it hilarious that one of the fabrics was called ‘chicken curry’, only to read the tag later and find out later that he was actually saying ‘chickankari’ – a type of intricate embroidery?! Chikan comes from the Persian word chakeen which means to create delicate patterns on fabric.

Prior to checking out on our last day, we had a quick walk around the streets of Kolkata in search of an ATM and a few interactions with the locals. So far when people try to guess where we’re from they usually ask ‘England? America?’ and then when we tell them they say ‘Ah, Australia. Ricky Ponting’. And we normally respond ‘Yes. Australia. Ricky Ponting’. And that’s as far as the conversation goes because none of us have a clue about cricket!

After saying goodbye to the friendliest, smiliest staff, Suresh and Pablo, we jumped on the train to Bhubaneswar to start our placement. The journey was pretty smooth but I possibly should have experimented with a squat toilet before trying it out for the first time on a moving train!


My social work placement in India is being completed with the support of a grant from the Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars Foundation 

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Matt Paola
    Oct 15, 2015 @ 09:31:20

    What do they say, why practice when you can learn on the job! Probably not meant to be applied to toilet training on a moving train. Pardon the puns!


  2. Rebecca
    Oct 15, 2015 @ 12:52:53

    Don’t worry, nearly a month later & I’ve mastered the squat toilet now – paper free!? We might need a bathroom reno when I get back…


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