Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Kolkata: Distribution 9, Tarakeswar

From Kolkata 2012

The Colours and Tastes of India

Today we had a smaller distribution about two hours away from Kolkata.

Venturing to the site we came across some wonderful sites and colours of India, which we would like to share with you ...
  • lime green newly-planted rice seedlings contrasted by the darker green potato plants and the bright yellow mustard seed plants
  • the beautiful rainbow of colours of the women in the fields wearing their saris
  • the bright yellow ambassador taxis, and the hot curry we eat each day (sometimes twice, sometimes thrice)
  • the black coal, goats, and cows
  • the turquoise-blue-hued kingfisher flying around the melon-sized multicoloured dalhias
  • the too many billboards
  • From Kolkata 2012
  • the delicous hot boiling tea
  • the red painted feet on a few of the village women
  • the children arriving in their fancy festival clothes
  • mango juice, spicy cashews, flavorful dates, and hot chilies (don't confuse these with green beans!)
  • burgandy hennas
  • the red dot on the forehead and line down the part of their hair to symbolize a married person

Can't believe it is Day 9 with only 1 distribution left...

till tomorrow...

Team Kolkata 2012

Click to leave your comments.

Chennai: The team has arrived

From Chennai 2012

The Chennai 2012 team (our second team in India this year) has arrived safely, but light in luggage. Back Row, Left to Right: Aniya Nandy, John Page, Theodora Nandy. Front row: Laura Harper, Laurie-Beth Page (Team Leader), Iain Maciver.

In Toronto we were advised that the Brussels airport was on strike, and therefore we were being re-routed to Amsterdam and then on to Chennai.

Unfortunately, our luggage remained in Amsterdam. The Rotary club welcomed us at 5 am and are helping us sort out our luggage difficulties along with their many other responsibilities. Today was spent catching on our much needed sleep and preparing for our pre-distribution meeting with the Rotarians tonight.

Our day starts tomorrow at 6 am -- who needs sleep?? -- and we're off to Vellore for our
first distribution of 640 bedkits.

Team Chennai 2012

Click to leave your comments.

Chennai: Leave your comments here

Chennai Time and Weather
Click for forecast.Click for Chennai, India Forecast
As a matter of courtesy, please include your name at the end of your comment.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Pune: The team prepares

From Pune 2012

Our third India team was at 28 Pinehurst last weekend preparing for their trip to Pune in February to distribute 5,000 bedkits. Shown above is the team: (Left to Right): Debbie Dryden, Elaine Higgins, Irene Carson, Sieg Will, Suzanne Andrew, Beth Poad, Anne Andrew.

Click to leave your comments.

You can also submit your email address and then you
will be notified each time there is a new Live Report.

Kolkata: Distribution 8, Howrah Gangadharpur

Click on the pix above to see the Kolkata 2012 Photo Album. Then click on SLIDESHOW at upper left to see them all in large size.

Did you know?
  • that it is unique to the Kolkata distributions to feed each child and one parent before they change into their new clothes and have their picture taken
  • that this could be up to 2,400 meals at one location
  • that their meal consists of a hard boiled egg, sweet chutney, rice, potato and cabbage, and dahl along with water
  • that most of the surrounding area is vegetarian, thus they have the egg for protein
  • that the SCAW team eats the same meal, with the exception of the egg, as they provide us a chicken dish, and sweet tea as well as a very sweet treat
  • that the SCAW team sings the Canadian National Anthem each day (sometimes in harmony)
  • that we only have two distributions left
  • that we are sad to be leaving our new friends
Till tomorrow's blog...

Team Kolkata 2012

Click to leave your comments.

Pune: Leave your comments here

Pune Time and Weather
Click for forecast.Click for Pune, India Forecast
As a matter of courtesy, please include your name at the end of your comment.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Kolkata: Rest & Guskara

A Day of Rest ...

And on Day 7 the SCAW team rested ... we did some sightseeing ... Deb and Suman ventured early in the morning to the KALI Matha Temple on the banks of the Ganges River ... we went to see the Supreme Shiva. Yes, both Deb and Suman put their feet in the Ganges ... a holy blessing ... upon leaving Deb spied wild monkeys ...

Returning to town, they picked up the rest of the team and travelled to a school site where it was the day of celebration for the Godness of Knowledge, Sarawasdi. The school was preparing for a day of festivities, but had time to show us around.

The kids enjoyed receiving bouncy balls, Canadian pencils, and having their picture taken. We were also informed that at the school they train the parents in sewing -- so they have a skill for employment! A good thing!

We followed that with a small bit of souvenir-shopping before we journeyed northwest to the outskirts of nowhere .. a three-hour drive.

We stayed overnight at a government travel site and in the morning we did a quick side trip to the jungle to see where the King of years ago would hunt bears. He had tunnels from his castle leading out to his hunting grounds.

Pomp and Circumstance ...

From Kolkata 2012
Mid morning Sunday, we arrived at the girl's school in Guskara where the distribution would be held. We were greeted by the schoolgirls throwing marigold petals at us, while we were serenaded by a girl blowing a conch shell. As well, we each received a rose corsage. After singing 'O Canada' we were given Chai tea and then started our day's event.

Once again the children surprised us with their beauty and their smiles, the distribution flowed smoothly and on the drive back we realized we only have three more days before we come home ... we are sad at the thought of leaving.

'till tomorrow

Team Kolkata 2012

Click to leave your comments.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Kolkata: Chandra's Garden

Distribution 6 -- Day 6

Hello folks at home and at 28 Pinehurst in Toronto.

So far we have distributed 4,000 bedkits with today's distribution to Chandra's Garden and village. It was a four-hour journey to and from, but well worth it!

Along the way we passed by Ramkrishna Mission, solar energy education centre, a landfill site which eventually will be used to fertilize the land for vegetables.

Chandra's Garden is a beautiful site with flowers and garden -- an oasis. Children and their parents were so happy to receive the bedkits at this beautiful location. Rotarians and their wives were pleased to know that children and grandchildren from Canada donated money from their piggy banks to purchase these gifts for the children of India.

Kolkata is a very populated city of ten million people (and six Canadian SCAW volunteers!) and full of people with manual rickshaws, cars, trucks, and taxis with loud horn sounds in the traffic.

It is a unique experience for me to see Kolkata city after thirty-five years of living in Canada.

We also saw the homes of many world-renowned dignataries like Vivekanand, Ramkrisha, and Tagore ... to whom I salute with high respect.


Suman Patal,
on behalf of Team Kolkata 2012

Click to leave your comments.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Kolkata: Friday pictures

Click on the pix above to see the Kolkata 2012 Photo Album. Then click on SLIDESHOW at upper left to see them all in large size.

Team Kolkata 2012

Click to leave your comments.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Kolkata: Fifth Distribution - Kakdwip

From Kolkata 2012


Having to travel three hours to the site to distribute 1040 bedkits, we were certainly apprehensive about the day.

From Kolkata 2012
Upon arrival, we were pleased to see the site, large and ready for set-up. As we toured the facility we were impressed to see 600 recipients and guardians eating their welcome meals.

From Kolkata 2012

Incredibly, we had finished handing out the 1040 bedkits by 4:15 pm. This was accomplished due to the great effort and co-ordination by the volunteers. We were able to work well together as a team -- a well oiled machine!

Click above to see all
Kolkata 2012 photos
Then click on SLIDESHOW

Our appreciation to the wonderful helpers!

Team Kolkata 2012

Click to leave your comments.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Kolkata: Fourth Distribution

From Kolkata 2012
Apologies for the delay of Distribution 4. We were out till midnight and then had to be up and on the road by 6 am ... had a three-hour drive this morning to the site and then a four-and-a-half hour drive home. Traffic was horrific because it is Republic Day. So here we go for Day 4:
Kids are kids - where ever you go ...

We had a joyful day today with the children at the distribution. They loved that we sang songs with them -- like "If you are Happy and You Know It" and "The Hokey Pokey" -- and they tried to join in as much as they could between the fits of laughter.

From Kolkata 2012
We blew bubbles together, taught them how to "high five," and were rewarded with more smiles when they were permitted to say their own name on the microphone so their parent could come and help them with their bedkit.

Smiles continued as they gratefully ate their lunches, prepared by volunteers, and given to them on a banana leaf plate.

As they looked into their backpacks to see their treasures, it was like Christmas morning to us. The children's eyes lit up ... then when they saw, and had to lift, the bedkit ... the smiles got larger ... Wow!!

From Kolkata 2012
As the children loaded the buses and started to leave for home, we had waves and cheers to their new "aunties" ... truly rewarding!

Another day tomorrow...

Team Kolkata 2012

Click to leave your comments.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Kolkata: Third Distribution

Our language skills are improving!

"Esso, Bosso, Hasso, Jow ..." (Phonetically correct) After saying these words hundreds of times a day the words sound like lyrics to a song ...

"Come, sit, smile, go ..." -- "Get your bedkit and have a good night's sleep."

We were grateful to the children and parents today. Each child and parent shook our hands and thanked us when they were given their gift of a bedkit. A number of bedkits were given to children with special needs. It is wonderful that even in a remote rural area there is a school available for these children.

Some families travelled over 100 km today so they could join us. We are so glad that we are able to assist them in this small way.

Looking forward to another wonderful day tomorrow.

Team Kolkata 2012

Click to leave your comments.

You can also submit your email address and then you
will be notified each time there is a new Live Report.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Kolkata: Second Distribution

From Kolkata 2012

Team Kolkata 2012: (Left to right, back) Linda Lesage, Debra Sywak, Martina Keogh. (Front) Warren Wagstaff (Team Leader), Sumantray Patel, Lita Fearon. Click for a larger version.

Bollywood - here we come.

After a two-hour ride we arrived in Basirhat, 90 km from hotel. We travelled through many villages, too many to count, each displaying their market wares whatever they were: fresh fish (gills still breathing), colourful vegetables, fresh chickens, etc. We arrived at our destination to a school site lined with parents and children who cheered our arrival.

From Kolkata 2012

Our OVO picked a beautiful site for today's bedkit distribution. The changing tents were spacious and colourful. The elder students from the school volunteered to assist us for the day and were of great help. They showed great consideration and caring for the children.

They and the children practiced their English skills with us and at the end of the day treated us like rock stars: swarming us, taking our photos, and asking for our autographs!

From Kolkata 2012

We're not all that special but, truth be known, not too many foreigners travel this way -- so that's why we all felt extra special today.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's report ...

Team Kolkata 2012

Click to leave your comments.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Kolkata: Day 3, First Distribution

Our first distribution day consisted of two sites: one at the site of the VIP Rotary Club of DumDum and the second at Barrackpore. (The city centre and the outskirts of town)

From Kolkata 2012
Deb and Martine, being new to the team, were thrilled to hand out the first bedkits of the distribution. The children, all dressed in their new clothes, were most grateful to receive the donors' generous gifts. Their eyes were wide with excitement and happiness as they walked to their parents with this big bag of goodies. The sun shone on over 700 families ...

From Kolkata 2012
We were very happy to accompany a lovely little girl who received a bedkit to her home tonight. The family was proud and pleased to show us their home and, after discussions with the mother on how the bedkit would change their lives, we were informed that three school-aged children will share the mattress and everything in the bedkit would be very useful.

This is what makes this experience most gratifying.

Until tomorrow ...

Team Kolkata 2012

Click to leave your comments.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Kolkata: The City of Joy

Our Indian adventures have begun ...

After a lengthy flight we exited the airport to meet our team leader and several Rotarians who anointed and blessed us with a traditional Indian greeting: incense, candles, and beautiful flower garlands. Truly a warm welcome.

From Kolkata 2012
After a night of rest, we awakened to the sounds of the City of Joy: horns blowing, dogs barking, calls to prayers ... We all met at the rooftop terrace for our first daytime view of Kolkata ... WOW!

Later in the day we travelled to see the home of Mother Theresa ... a very moving experience for us all. We followed up with a visit to the orphanage, which is currently home to 68 toddlers who would otherwise be on the streets with an unknown future.

From Kolkata 2012
Our evening ended after a reception hosted by the Rotary Club of Dum Dum - who welcomed us with open arms, warmth, and friendship.

We look forward to the next ten days of bedkit distributions with our new friends.

The 3 "Dhost" (friends) from Ontario
for Team Kolkata 2012

Click to leave your comments.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Kolkata: The team has arrived

This message was received at the SCAW Office on Friday.
We have all arrived here in Kolkata and everyone is well but a little tired. Our ladies from Ontario made it here after a few delays late this evening, while our other team members arrived earlier today without any issues.

We were greeted with garlands and prayers from our Overseas Voluntary Organization [OVO], the Rotarians of Dum Dum and their wives.

After a warm and caring greeting we braved the late nite traffic that is ... well so totally Indian: fast, noisy, cramped, and scary ... and, yes, we arrived at our hotel in one piece.

After a few laughs and stories we headed to sleep with a big day ahead tomorow as we get ready to start the distribution.

Warren Wagstaff
for Team Kolkata 2012

Click to leave your comments.

Kolkata: Leave your comments here

Kolkata Time and Weather
Click for forecast.Click for Kolkata, India Forecast
As a matter of courtesy, please include your name at the end of your comment.