We’re pleased to keep you posted from one of our interns, Lara, while she is completing a one month journalism Pave internship in Calcutta!
I arrived in Calcutta at around 3am on July 2nd, and inevitably felt quite apprehensive. It is one thing to imagine the amazing experience of a month abroad surrounded by such an interesting culture, and another to arrive, exhausted after a 10 hour trip, and not be able to speak the language! It was hot and sweaty and when I arrived home I fell asleep instantly, with the overhead fan on.
The next morning I met Shreya, the Pave intern co-coordinator in Calcutta, who took me to a quaint café and introduced me to a few friends as she briefed me on my stay in the city. The food was slightly more continental than the usual Indian cuisine, but since then I have been trying loads of new incredible dishes. There is a growing Chinese culture in Calcutta which = tons of pop up restaurants which fuse Indian and Chinese cuisine! Now that it’s been a week I’m starting to venture out with some street food. The smells and spices are too much to resist.
I warmed up to the city, vivid and lively in contrast to my feelings the night before. Yet after the induction, a feeling of loneliness washed over me. What have I gotten myself into? I thought. Obviously, I was soon to be proved wrong.
It merely took two days at the newspaper to feel comfortable in my work space. I was assigned tasks from day 1 and everyone at the office has been extremely friendly and helpful. I have been introduced to many different journalism sections in only a few days, and have already had the opportunity to write more personal pieces for the paper, which is extremely gratifying.
I was lucky enough to have a couple of contacts in the city through a university friend. Together we have explored areas of Calcutta which I would have probably not ventured to on my own, and they have helped me familiarize myself with the workings of this city, a whirlwind of organized chaos. In the last six days I have found myself marveling at run down palaces and discovering thakur dalans, beautiful homes with internal courtyards for worship, which selfishly guard peace and serenity within the nooks and crannies of the bustling city. I also attended the Ratha Yatra, a cultural and religious festival in the name of Jagannath, a form of god Lord Kirshna. The family organizing it took me in with open arms, and I walked and danced and ate with the people of Behala in this beautiful celebration.
It’s difficult not to feel self-conscious and anxious upon arrival. It is indispensable that one embraces the country with open arms. I have found myself enveloped in one of the most elaborate, complex and intricate cultures that I’ve ever come across, surrounded by beautiful, kind hearted people. I cannot wait to see what the city has in store for me next.