“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” – Matthew 25:35
So I have decided to volunteer for the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata. I had zero intention to do it or any other thing before I came to this city, but I think this is what I am supposed to do. It was like God sent me there to be honest. It was the first place that I found after the bus dropped me off, right next to the Mother Teresa home. I went in just to see if they could direct me to a certain street that had a lot of cheap guesthouses, but I found much more and a place to push my spiritul growth.
When I arrived, there was a super sweet nun named Ruth who was at the entrance and we just had some type of instant connection, like I recognized her. She asked if I was there to volunteer and I told her that I had not planned on it, but would think about it. She suggested that I walk around and visit Mother Teresa’s grave and the mini-museum on her life. Afterwards, she had someone show me how to get to where I wanted to go.
Without a doubt, this is one of those times I have been speaking about where God offers me a chance and it is up to me to see the sign, which just so happened to be right in my face, and to take the challenge. I at first thought I would just do it for one day, but I changed my mind and decided I will do it for 5-6 days. I will be surprised if it is easy and I expect to get my hands dirty. I won’t turn down any job, no matter the uncomfortability that arises.
Like the man whom we picked up from the drain. half eaten with worms; we brought him to the home. “I have lived like an animal in the street, but I am going to die like an angel, loved and cared for.” And it was so wonderful to see the greatness of a man who could speak like that, who could die like that, without blaming anybody, without cursing anybody, without comparing anything. Like an angel – that is the greatness of our people.
I think I will be working at a home that really sick people go to right before they die. So they are cared for and they can die in peace rather than pain and agony on the streets. The homes supposedly are mostly for the “poorest of the poor”. I am pretty scared of what I will see but when I think about it, something inside of me has known this was coming for a while. I have spent quite a few times in hospitals and old people homes the past two years, this is just an addition onto this and a bit more hardcore.
The past two days I have mostly just been wandering around Kolkata trying to figure out the layout of this city. I have seen some pretty cool places thus far and learned a lot about how it formed and the transformations that it has gone through the past 300 years. It started off as a small economic colony of the East India company and quickly grew to be a major British stronghold for centuries to come. The museum at the Victoria Memorial did a wonderful job at explaining it step-by-step and showing how the empire flourished in Kolkata and Eastern India. It also showed the arrogance of Britain and why India eventually won it’s freedom.
The Victoria Memorial was built in the early 20th century by Lord Curzon soon after Victoria’s death. It is a beautiful and imposing building and is probably the most well-known in Kolkata. The top image shows the front entrance currently under renovation. The park and gardens surrounding the memorial are well-maintained and have many ponds, trees, and quite areas to spend the hot days lounging around.
I spent my first day at the Indian Museum, which was also nice but I didn’t take any pictures there. There were plenty of ancient sculptures from around India of the Buddha and Hindu religions and a nice Egyptian display with a mummy. I went through New Market which is where you can buy pretty much anything on the cheap. Yesterday I bought a cheap nice-ish shirt to volunteer in and a new wallet as my last one finally bit the dust.
Before I went shopping, I went by Rabindranath Tagore’s family home where he was born and died at, known as “Jorasanka Thakurbari”. I was actually really excited to go here as I have studied about Tagore and read about this home in many of the texts. I think it was slightly better then what I expected and the museum exhibits of his life and travels were quite high-class. It explained all about his travels to Japan, China, and America as an ambassador of goodwill.
He certainly lived quite a life and traveled around the world in times where traveling was not so easy. As a poet, writer, painter, and philosopher, he is the type of example that I aspire to be like, even if I had read somewhere something not so great about his personal life. I tried to also go to Swami Vivekananda’s home, but it was closed today so I will try to go later in the week sometime.
Walking back, I ran into a giant flower market and slum-like area underneath the Howrah Bridge, which is the busiest cantilever bridge in the world. The flowers are strung together and used for many purposes, especially religious. The colors and smells were wonderful, but it had been a long and hot day so I didn’t stay long.
A little further along I ran into the Esplanade Mansions next to the huge Government House, which looked like a palace. Both looked like they were stuck in time and had been very well maintained. I didn’t take a picture of the Government House as there were cops pretty much everywhere, doing what the Indian cops pretty much do… a whole lot of nothing.
I finally made it back through New Market and then to Sudder Street where my guesthouse is, the Hotel Modern Lodge, the best for the price guesthouse I could find. The people are nice and my room is spacious with a big window on the first floor. I did get a little electrocuted in the bathroom on my first shower, but hey… it happens.
I will register and go through orientation this afternoon for the volunteer service. I will do my best possible job to care for these people. One last thing I wanted to say is that something special is happening in my meditation at this moment. It is almost like God is either pre-rewarding me or giving me a gift to share with these people before and when I am there. It is pretty cool to watch it all happen and should make this much much more interesting.
This is your life! Live it! And now a word from our daily sponsor, Shia LaBeaouf! Strangly very inspiring!
I cannot be with her,
I cannot drink a ber,
I cannot tell a lie,
I cannot kill a fly,
Not that I can not,
But I want not,
For I’m happy as man can be,
When I bathe in pure morality.
My path is ever steady,
So take me when you’re ready.