Over the last few days we continued our journey to West Bengal, the eastern triangle of India on the map. Upon arrival in Kolkata (to palm trees and warm, balmy weather) we, along with Monica, the EF India team member, immediately hopped in a taxi with our driver Singhji (who also happens to be a marriage match maker, more on that later) for a long drive to visit the community and Choose Handloom project.
The drive out of Kolkata is amazing, if not because of the thick traffic of ambassador cars, the epic scenery of impressive yet dilapidated architecture or the vegetation that pops up everywhere along the road away from the city, then definitely for the thrill of the thousands of near death experiences in such a short span of time. Jado gets motion sick so this much travel has been….. Fun. Lucky for all of us, she managed to keep it together and we only had to watch her eyes widen and her face go pale every few minutes as a car swiped by or the taxi jolted to a halt for an oncoming bus. Who needs an adventure park when you have two way streets.
The project itself is pretty incredible too. We arrived for the first session of meeting the project team and in all honesty, while I was slightly nervous to be a group of three women (would they take us seriously, would they play the games, would they understand us through the translation to Bangla, would it mean anything to them) something told me we were exactly in the right place at the right time.
Throughout the days, we shared practices with each other through dialogue and activities we had planned. At one point, we were on a balcony sitting in a circle past sunset. We took out our phones and turned the little flash lights on so that we could harvest a world cafe discussion on visions for the project moving forward. I think Jado and I fell in love with the project team the moment they responded to the question: What fruit would you be and why? Perhaps their responses were influenced by the fact that we were sitting in the land of Tagore (one of the greatest Indian poets)… Either way, it was so clear that they were/are creative, intelligent, kind, passionate and dedicated individuals. I am so proud to call the team and the handloom weavers partners. We may be across the globe from each other most of the time, but we are clearly each working to improve our lives and communities.
Enjoy the photos from our adventures!