Bangla Class

Photos of AIIS in Ballygunge and the train station at Baghajatin that leads to the school

I’ll have to give an update on my life, which I have repeatedly put off the for the past week.

Recently people have asked me what exactly am I doing in Calcutta. Not in sense of my grant, which is to ostensibly focus on early newspaper history in the city, but what I am actually doing on a day to day basis.

To this, I reply, I am taking Bangla classes intensively at the American Institute of Indian Studies in Calcutta, in Ballygunge. That is, from 9-2 every day, Monday to Friday, I go to class. It’s a humid, sweaty, diesel fume-choked 45 minute bus and auto ride after which I arrive fairly exhausted. 

I’ve been going since September 1st and will be taking classes in this fashion until around January. After these first four months, I will begin the official part of my research on the newspapers. For the first few weeks I arrived, I was “settling in,” meaning dealing with bureaucracy, meeting my contacts, affiliates and surveying site locations. Since catalogues are not generally posted online in India, I travel to each institution and ask around to understand their resources. 

I’ve been to, or intend to go to, the below:

Classes consist of a mix of reading ,writing, speaking and listening. Basically everything, as well as field trips. I have one-on-one instruction. I’m incredibly grateful for the personalized attention and the professional setting in which I am taught. After class, I usually try to do the copious amount of Bangla homework, but have a nasty habit of procrastinating. Nonetheless, I hope to be conversational by the end of my CLEA grant.