When Pieces of Life Collide

Sometimes I have strange moments where pieces of my life serendipitously come together.

Friday I went to Chandni Chowk (one of the older, and busier parts of the city) to meet with “I.” of Calcutta walks, an organization that provides cultural and historical walks to tourists in the city. Working with Calcutta walks is to be my side project in addition to my research.

After describing my research to “I.”, he asked me about my life history. I told him I was interested in journalism.

“I.” gave me a look and asked, had I “heard of Sandip Roy? Would you like to meet with him?”

Only a over a year ago I had interned at NPR where I had edited one of Sandip’s articles! (http://www.npr.org/2012/04/30/151374960/living-to-100-the-story-of-indias-pocket-hercules) It was about a centenarian, Manohar Aich from Calcutta, who had once been Mr. World. Manohar was called the “pocket hercules” for his short stature. I had even referenced editing this editing this article in my application for Fulbright. Sandip is NPR’s correspondent for India and specifically Calcutta, his home city.

(Unfortunately due to “I’s” food poisoning, he had to postpone the meeting, but I hope to meet soon)

My end goal with Calcutta Walks is to use the knowledge gained through my research to propose to a new historical walk for Calcutta walks, one focusing on the city’s rich media history. By that, I have it in my heading that I would show places where printing press were (ie Ram Mohan Roy’s or James Hicky’s on 67 Radha Bazaar) and to show locations where related historical events happened (for instance, the grounds of the National Library where Governor-General Warren Hastings and Council Member Francis had their famous duel.

Of course, tours have to be marketable. While I have worked in Tourism before (at Discover Borderlands in Sri Lanka), I am not an expert

“I.” has said that although he has “nothing to lose” in designing a new tour, a good tour must be digestible by the lowest common denominator to be financially successful. It does no one any good for me to help plan a walk that few will go on and won’t last after I have left. Failing that, I hope there’s something I can do.

“Tourists coming to Calcutta have overcome many challenges to get here. They have decided to spend limited vacation time in a city that’s has a reputation for squalor. They have skipped the draws of the Taj Mahal, Delhi, Jaipur and elsewhere to come to Calcutta. We want to show them a special experience”

Tuesday or মঙ্গলবারI begin Bangla classes, which I think I mentioned will be held from 9am to 2pm every day for the next 4 months. Tomorrow Alec and I are going to the Foreigner’s Registration office to, hopefully, collect our all important registration papers.