August 24, 2010
While organizing the weights and dumbbells in the free-weight room at Gold’s Gym last week (yes there is a Gold’s Gym in Kolkata – I was surprised too), I started wondering, “does India have problems, or does Brad have problems?” After finishing rearranging the circular weights that hang on the sides of the squat rack, in perfect symmetry with the other side I might add, and noticing the three trainers and one trainee staring at me with the same confused look that I had minutes earlier, it was clear. It’s definitely not me. 🙂
A few days later, contrary to my prediction, Johnny lazy-arms had succeeded in returning the weights to their preferred state of disarray. Smell the optimism going up in smoke.
Today, even after more than 2.5 months in Kolkata, my good senses begin to pretzel strangle the oxygen from each other soon after walking out my front door, culminating eventually in a twisted synapse splatter of ?FTW is going on here. Which only makes sense… never, but never really doesn’t make sense either. The cause – perhaps a combination of the 5 trillion people and creatures occupying every nook, an overwhelmingly fragrant collection of antique wooden buses, exhausted taxis, auto-rickshaws, transport trucks for “Goods Carriage,” drivers that honk at the whiff of each passing smell (about every 10 feet). Did I mention people? Everywhere. All the time. Pushing things. Pulling things. Eating things…while pulling things. Everywhere.
Nevertheless, when I add it all together, I actually have begun to enjoy the annoyed feeling because it comes with a free bag of – this place is really cool – beans. Kolkata is the Dos Equis man of places – the most interesting city in the world. I say all this from the clean comfort of a somehwhat starbucks-like air-conditioned coffee shop that is not only playing a lead role in my fight against Nescafe being accepted as real coffee, but also a nice place for objective reflection.
This blog will not likely be a collection of random experiences and observations about India (and eventually China), though some of the more amusing ones may slip in from time to time. My original goal was to explore the true state of development in Asia with a specific focus on social enterprises and businesses working to solve environmental issues (aka cleantech, which could possibly fit under the social enterprise umbrella as well); given the broad scope of these two areas alone, they are dominating my brain-space, and will likely do the same to this blog. Please feel free to let me know if you think it should be something different. Especially since this is also meant to serve as an easy way to keep in touch with you. For the past three months I have been working with one such social enterprise, http://www.samasource.org, as their first full-time person on the ground in India, so expect a lot more on that soon as well.
Here are few photos from around the hood.