After staying at a friend’s, then at a sketchy hostel, then a less sketchy hostel, I am finally in what seems like the ideal living situation. Where I was planning to live—the Afridi guest house where all the volunteers live—did not honor the reservation we had made for a room in December. When I arrived they had no vacancies, but I could luckily stay with the volunteer-coordinator at his flat for my first night. For the second night, I moved into a hotel for 320 Rs/night and on the third, a hotel at 200/night (~4 dollars). I refused to stay at the Afridi in their expensive AC room since they had treated me so poorly already, and not giving them business took me off the waiting list for the other cheaper guest house, so I began to look for somewhere else to stay.
Cosmically, Ben got a text from his friend Pinku, who had a friend whose mom wanted to rent out a room at her flat to Calcutta Rescue volunteers. Absolutely ideal timing. I met the son, Troy, and his mom, Dola, and saw the place the next day. It was such a perfect setup for me and these people are just so wonderful and friendly and honest that I am truly happy to be able to call this home after only 1 night.
I feel a genuine sense of warmth from these people. They keep on insisting on offering me more than I could ever want--a new mattress, a locked steel cabinet, coffee and tea every morning, some dinners, boiling my water for me, doing my laundry, and providing a single private bed room with locks. I tried to refuse some of Dola's kindness, but I also realize that it gives them great pleasure to help me, and it is not a sacrifice for them since the son is very well off. I desperately don't want to be a hassle for them, but I also humbly understand that I really needed help with accommodation. I had nowhere else to turn, in this totally new country, especially because staying at a hotel the whole time would have been both torture and financially stupid. This apartment will be affordable with my very limited budget, in a safe and convenient location, and clean. I will have privacy and also the company of an amazing Indian woman. I can only say thank you about a million times.