Cribs: Bengali Style

Yesterday Ashlee’s program took a field trip to an old Bengali family house.

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View of part of house from 3rd floor balcony

View of part of house from 3rd floor balcony

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At one time, 55 people lived in the house together…all in the same extended family.  Now there are only about 15 people living there.  75 years ago this would have been an incredibly nice and prominent home in Kolkata, but a lack of modernization and repairs have left the house in a state nowhere near its former beauty.  Still, even without the modern amenities it’s an impressive and historic home.

Stack of old manuscripts in house

Stack of old manuscripts in house

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Garden in another gathering area

Garden in another gathering area

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The house has no running water, just a big well off of the bathroom that collects water, and a network of plastic pipes that run water into each room.  They also collect rainwater during the rainy season, and use it to cook and do laundry.  There is electricity, however.  One of the few ‘modern’ conveniences that the house boasts is  a working microwave in on of the grandfathers rooms.  The grandfather is a real character, and loves his microwave so much that the family has given him the nickname of “Microwave Dadu” or “Microwave Grandfather”.  He was quick to come out to meet us and tell us about the house, and at one point went back into his bedroom to produce a small bag containing a pair of socks that his granddaughter had given him.  It was unclear why he wanted to show everyone this bag of socks, but, we all smiled politely and told him they were very nice.

Microwave Dadu

Microwave Dadu

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The view of the skyline from the house was incredibly beautiful, and a really accurate representation of Kolkata: old houses, modern multi-story luxury apartments, and everything in between all fighting for space in the crowded city.

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The trip in general has been going really well.  Due to fatigue and exhaustion from traveling I got sick about 4 days ago, and have been taking it easy.  It was nothing too severe, just a mild cold, but the intense humidity and heat can really leave me drained if I’m not careful.  Ashlee brought a ton of cold medicine with her which I’ve been taking, and drinking tons of water, and I found an homeopathy store in Gariahat and they gave me some natural remedy pills that I’ve been taking too.  Plus the herbal pills came in a really cool vile that looks like it would contain cyanide or opium or something.  I’ve been feeling much better today, and tomorrow we’re going to an Indian wedding!  We don’t know anyone in the wedding, but, apparently it’s a status sign to have white people at your wedding…so…I guess we’ll be there!

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