July 11- Science City, Dumping Grounds, & City Tour
Today we went to our second Indian science museum (we went to another in Delhi but I didn’t ever write about it) at this place in Kolkata called “Science City.” If you can picture what Disneyland must have looked like 50 years ago (or Wally World from the Vacation movies) and then let 50 years go by but don’t make any improvements to almost everything, this is what Science City looked liked. It is a hands-on science museum, but as a person who has a degree in Interpretation and studied museums, there is a key piece of interpretation missing. The one really cool exhibit was on powers of ten and it had pictures and examples (math teachers pay attention) of the same thing at 1 and then 10, 100,1000, 10,000, etc. all the way to really large (like maybe about 1X105 .)
We all wore our Indian outfits today and despite the fact that they are loose fitting, it was just so hot while we were at Science City that I was a disgusting, sweaty mess, as was everyone else. It is so humid that you really just can’t wait to get back on the bus or into an air-conditioned part of the museum. While we were inside though, it poured rain and so after that it was actually a tolerable temperature outside. The hardest part of the heat/humidity is that you are trying to look presentable this whole time because you are going to professional places but you just stand there and sweat and sweat and sweat.
Then, we went to the Kolkata city dump. WHAT? WHY? It was actually very interesting, although the people living and working there were completely confounded to have a tour bus drive in. The city of Kolkata has managed to deal with their waste in a very innovative way. When it arrives, it is separated into organic vs. inorganic waste. All of the inorganic waste is put in a landfill, but all of the organic waste is composted to use as fertilizer. This fertilizer is then used all over the dumping grounds where they have acres and acres of every imaginable crop growing. People living there can sell the crops in the markets and make some money. The officials there wouldn’t let us take pictures nor would they really let us get off the bus but it was very cool to see anyway.
The hotel where we are staying here doesn’t have a regular lunch set up like our hotel in Delhi did, so everyday they are making a private luncheon for us in a beautiful banquet room. I don’t know how I am going to go back to living my normal life after being here where I have been staying in ridiculous luxury. I can tell you right now, that is not what I expected when I applied for this program. “Thanks, Uncle Sam!!” I have had to stop eating dinner because our lunches are so extensive and rich that dinner has become unnecessary. That also gives me more money for souvenirs and gifts because they give us money everyday for our dinner stipend. I am for sure going to have to pay for another bag on the way home which is also okay because they gave us $500 to buy curriculum supplies and I bought 6 textbooks for less than $10!
In the afternoon we had a bus tour with an Indian tour guide. He is a native to Kolkata and he was hilarious. We went to the giant Protestant cathedral and to a memorial for Queen Victoria. Since Kolkata was the capital during British rule, they tried to bring Britain to India. There are a lot of Christian churches here and many grand houses that are built in a Victorian style. I said before it kind of looks like shabby Cuba. It also looks like super-shabby (not to be confused with shabby-chic—there is nothing chic about Kolkata) New Orleans because of the architecture.
Our last stop on the tour was at Mother Teresa’s Mission of Charity. There were white dressed nuns everywhere and this was the place we saw the most white people on the whole trip. We saw her tomb, her bedroom, her chapel, and a museum dedicated to her. She was Albanian and not Indian, which I didn’t know. If any place needs a mission for poor people it is Kolkata. Walking down the street, little kids tap your arm and follow you with their hands out. I kind of don’t know what to do. It was cool to see all of that stuff since she did a lot of good things for many people, but you know how I get freaked out about Jesus stuff and there was a lot of that! Plus, we had to take our shoes off which also skeeved me out!
I basically went to bed right when we got back because I am getting a cold and do not feel that great. Basically we are sweating profusely at all times unless in the hotel and when you are not feeling well and sweating like an absolutely disgusting pig, it doesn’t feel that great. I slept for 12 hours and still don’t feel that much better but I am plugging away!