Kolkata Diary. Good Advice From Dahn

A new Ogg Winter Scarf I started working on today.

If you have any advice for me about traveling to India,” I messaged Dahn, “I’ll be happy and grateful to hear it.” 

Dahn Gandell is my friend and a minister.  She’s the one who asked me to go to India and teach the women there how to make potholders.  She’s been to Kolkata many times so I figured she’d be able to tell me what I need to know.

Her message back to me was long and ended with the words, I guess that’s more that enough for now. 

Here’s some of what Dahn told me…

Keep my shoulders and knees covered.

Bring cash dated after 2006 and/or use a debit card.

Expect to see men peeing in the streets, it’s part of the Indian Culture.

Keep your money in an inside pocket of your bag and never put it down anywhere.  (Unless we’re at one of the regular location, then the ladies and girls will try to take your bags so you don’t have to carry anything.)

Don’t try to filter your own water, there’s always bottled water available and every place we go someone will give us Chai which is safe to drink.

Get a Z-pack (antibiotics) in case of a respiratory infection from the smog from cars and crematoriums.

Carry Baby Wipes, toilet paper and hand sanitizer in your bag.

“…we just tend to go with the flow and don’t let anything freak us out because whatever happens is supposed to happen and we can deal with it.”

This is all good to hear, but Dahn’s philosophy about not freaking out, is the best advice I can think of.




7 thoughts on “Kolkata Diary. Good Advice From Dahn

  1. I have been following your blog. Your inspirational wall hangings are on the walls of my home office.
    You are doing a wonderful thing!
    Go with our prayers, good luck, hope…
    I had worried about my son for his three past trips to Africa…he did his good deeds there and came home safely to us…
    You will return safely to your farm…
    We are all an email away or Skype or fb live.
    Ellen in NYC

  2. oh my, the comment about men peeing in the street made me laugh and think of the men in Germany who regularly pee in the streets (not trying to hide themselves either), so do men in Japan, especially when they had too much to drink ( true in many cultures, come to think of it…the area around the Octoberfest stinks of urine for days afterwards).
    I taught at southern Indian universities for 2 years and found the malaria pills more annoying than anything else, including the rats in the streets, big spiders and garbage everywhere.
    Maria, and you are there to perform a gesture of complete kindness.
    You will have the time of your life and the 2 weeks will feel like 2 days and you won’t want to leave because the women in the group around you make you feel so very welcome. Their smiles look like sunrises and their embraces are as welcoming as warm ocean waves. They will not let anything happen to you, they are your guardian angels.
    They have seen terrible things and you wouldn’t know it by looking at them…India is a teacher of patience, beauty, and extreme pain and you’ll return as a new person…with a new voice (thinking of your blog a few days ago)
    I am so happy for you to have this opportunity!
    So looking forward to reading about your adventures soon!

    1. I love what you wrote about India Sabina. And it all rings true. Thank you. And you reminded me about men peeing in the streets in Germany, how someone made art out that, I just can’t remember what it is now. I’m going to search for it.

  3. Hi Maria, of course l had to go look for it as well and couldn’t believe the number of internet entries on ‘peeing in the street’! As for art and peeing, l found this one,
    http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/pinkelbaum-peeing-tree (“As part of the Frankfurt art initiative Komische Kunst (Funny Art), the artwork is installed in an old maple tree. A plaque near the tree reads (translated from German): “For 300 years I was pissed at, starting today I piss back.” Made me laugh out loud!)
    And it reminded me of what women in Kerala told me about suffering bladder and kidney infections because there aren’t enough public toilets for women to use, so women working in fields and on construction sites often have to hold it in for 8-10 hours…arghhhhh!

    1. Yes, and now I remember Sabina, it was the same with the wall I think. it sounds familiar now. And that’s crazy about the women in Kerala.

  4. I look forward to reading about your trip! You will have an incredible time and come home all the stronger, I think. And just think of the difference you will make in the lives of these women…

    Do you ever read a blog called Edenland? Written by Eden Riley…quite a character and what a writer; oh, my. Long story short: she took a trip to India a few years ago with a group called World Vision, and her impressions/words stick with me to this day. What a trip it was, both for her and the people she met. I am sure you will have the same experience.

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