January 21, 2010


As omnipresent as the sounds of Kolkata is the pollution that lurks, indiscreetly, among these already filthy streets. Walking through the sidewalks I cannot evade the smoke billows from trash heaps being burned on the side of the road. Fires leap up to cook people's breakfasts, ancient vehicles expel toxic emssions, and cigarettes or other mystery things are smoked minutely by nearly every occupant of this city, including the other volunteers and CR staff. In fact, tobacco is so heavily relied upon that there are what I can only guess are public cigarettes hanging from storefronts that passersby are free to inhale upon any urge. The smell of burning rubber, plastic, and unidentifiable waste causes my stomach to churn and my lungs to heave; while I run, I have the overwhelming and terrifying sensation that I am being slowly poisoned by the inescapable fumes. I can only hold my breath for so long, my cilia can only work so hard. The cough that has already begun reminds me daily of the grime that now inhabits my lungs.

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