Walking the streets of Kolkata alone means some people try to sell you things, ask if you need a taxi, if you want to buy a tour or if you want henna painted on your hands. Anyway to earn some money is a good way.
I was on my way for dinner late yesterday afternoon. Suddenly a young-ish. He started talking with me and we engaged in a conversation. This is how it works when you get to know people. You talk to each other. You ask questions, you get answers.
We walked together, he helped me find a place where they serve vegetarian food. We sat and we talked. We shared. On our way back we stopped for a coffee and there I met two women and their children. They are beggars. It made me think of what the monk in Chang Mai said. Thant monks are beggars, they collect alms every day. Like beggars. He considered himself a beggar. And people gives him food everyday because he is Buddhist and monk. That made me think.
It took me a while to understand that this guy knows the women. Their children loves him. He played with them while I talked with the women.
They live in a village outside Kolkata. They stay in the city until they’ve got enough to buy a sack of rice, then they go back home. The biggest problem is that they are cold during night, they don’t have any blankets.
This guy is a local. So I asked him how much he would charge me for a whole day. I want to go where the locals live their lives. I want to see. So we decided on a price and that we will go on Tuesday. The next thing I have on my to-do-list is that I want to see a Bollywood film in India. Of course I have to.
So we went this evening. The films name is A life. It turns out it is a very political film about the massive amount abortions on female fetuses made anually here in India. About abusive men and how women actually can support and empower each other. Great film seen by mostly men when I looked around.
We leave, we have tea, we continue walking and suddenly I feel somebody is hugging me. It is the youngest of the women. I met them this morning and we had tea together. We talked and he told me more about their life in this city. When we meet this evening I ask if they want to come for tea. Have you eaten? No, we haven’t eaten today. Three women, three children and none of them have eaten for the whole day. So we go for food. Four big portions and a big bottle of water.
Before they leave I tell them that on Wednesday I will buy them a sack of rice but I am concerned about how they will carry it. Oh, that’s not a problem, she says. I will carry it on my head. She is the tiniest woman I’ve seen in a long time. She hardly eats any food but carrying 25 kilograms on her head is not a problem. She tells me that these three women cooperate. Any money or food they get, they share. They work together. A whole sack of rise will be enough and then they can go home for a while.
Today I have been crying a lot. It has been an emotional day. I know that what I am doing for these new friend wont help the population in India. It will not change the way things work here. Or anywhere else in the world. I know that. I know I am extremely privileged. I know all that.
And now when I’m sitting here writing this I can’t help thinking of Elon Musk who is going to take two persons in a spaceship around the moon and I can only imagine how much money these two persons are paying for these few hours of thrill.