Driving a taxi in Kolkata

I imagine myself brave. One of my enduring memories from India happened within minutes of arriving. 36 college students touched down, and together we left the airport. Joel, our guide and arranger of every detail, had taxis waiting for us. I was giddy. I threw my suitcase into the trunk of this heavy metal, yellow car. I climbed in the back next to my sweaty travel mates. Joel gave us the name of the hotel, shouted it to the driver. We left. My eyes were stretched wide. The smell, the hot breeze from the open windows. I was chattering with my…

How Places Change You

I’ve been thinking a lot about the way places change you. Every place has a rhythm. Every place has breath and movement. Places pull you and push you like waves in an ocean. An ocean wave can cradle and rock you, hold you while you float, ears underwater, eyes at the sky. Waves can whisk you up and roll you onto the sand. Waves can gently pull you out to sea. Perhaps you would fight hard against the waves in one direction or another. Perhaps you would take advantage of the rolling sea and stand up with your friends to…

A Portrait of a Woman Having Tea

I wrote this in the spring of 2009 while I was living and working in Kolkata, India, a few months before leaving for Peace Corps. I reread it recently and wanted to share it here. ______________________________ On a muggy, still, Tuesday morning, Mangal and I walked through a Kolkata slum called Boro Ghati. We met a woman; her image is still with me. She sat in a chai stall off the side of the road. The little hut was all woven and collected. Its structure was a tight bunch of crude tethers and brittle strips of bamboo. The dinted tin…

where would you recover?

Remember that gnarly throat picture of last post?  Even though that picture was from last year, I’m that kind of sick again.  Can’t quite kick the cough.  Kelly, who was sick for our entire Turkey trip is still battling her cough as well back in Fort Worth, and this has caused me to contemplate where I might like to be nursing my cold right now.  I’ve come up with my ideals: 1. On the green couch at my parent’s house.  Tivoed Survivor episodes and chips and dip lulling me into a couch coma.  Dad coming in the house with grocery…

journaling

I am getting to the end of the book in which I’m keeping my most recent journal.  It’s a dark green hard bound book with maroon corners and spine.  I bought it over a year ago in the part of Kolkata I personally refer to as Paper Town, a name given because I’m familiar enough with the city to know you can fulfill all your paper needs there and also because I’m not familiar enough to know the actual name of the district. I’ve been journaling since freshman year of college.  When I go back and read the entries of…