June 9, 2010


Kolkata is a place where good deeds are misused, honesty is taken advantage of, loyalty meaningless, and generosity trampled upon.
For all is backwards here.
Not only do all the light switches turn down to turn on,
Not only do dirvers use the left side for travel,
Not only is the time zone half an hour increment off the rest of the world,
Not only do ladies scarves hang across the fronts of their bodies rather than resting on the backs of their necks,
And skin-whitening creams applied instead of tanning lotion.
But this society rewards misdeed, when one follows the rules one becomes victim of the vast majority who don't and who can't, for the sake of their own survival.
To slow for a red light only means you are left yielding right of way behind the aggressive rush of traffic.
You are delayed, the eager drivers push past you impatiently and honk their horns to remind you that rules are for fools.
The patient rickshaw driver is ignored as the loud, obnoxious one steals the commuter.
A friendly street stall with fair prices, clean food, and multi-lingual service is closed by the police; it is competing with the neighboring restaurants who rely on cheating foreigners to continue their businesses.
Shopkeepers with no-bargaining policies are passed by, businessmen without touts stand no chance, in an economy that relies upon commissioned men to prey on naive customers, and ridiculously steep prices reduced by 5% trick foreigners into thinking they are winning when they are in fact paying double the real price.
The 18-year long employee and loyalest staff who travels 2.5 hours and spends 1/3 of his salary on transport, works the longest hours, does the dirtiest tasks, while office administrators sit all day in AC behind desks joking about how the chai is not ready, earn at least twice if not 5 times as much as those doing all the clinical work beginning over one hour earlier.
Physicians are in dire shortage all over the country, but foreign doctors are not allowed to practice here; indeed, it is illegal and worthy of imprisonment.
Hospitals only pay for first line medications for HIV and prescribe 2nd line with referrals saying "medicines not available." They refuse to admit women who have given birth on the street because of the liability of taking such an unsanitary case; should anything go wrong the hospital would be responsible. Underweight babies of HIV-positive prostitutes do not get tested or even trated because, what if the baby died under our care?
The nation-wide food security subsidy program for the poor is found to be corrupt, the officials embezzling millions by lying about prices and stealing the food.
NGO's are run as businesses, disguised in the robes of charity, decieving all donors so cleverly that these orphan children are desperate for food, when really, it is the staff who are consuming that very food. There may be no orphans at all...better check on that.
Ambitious, hard-working, career-driven women with dreams of life abroad cannot possibly fulfill them for the barrier of visas. Even if she could find a sponsor or a job offer, she would not have the 1 lakh rupees that is arbitrarily required to have in one's bank account to even be eligible.
Friendship is only an exchange of needs; a relationship of mutual benefit; watch out for disguised generosity and grace.
If you do not manipulate you will be manipulated.
It is a system that rewards the liar.
That applauds the cheater.
That laughs at the honest man.
Where sin always wins
And evil conquers good.
It is survival of the fittest.
Where poverty, so devastatingly endemic
Escape is impossible
And hopelessness pervades
Why not wallow in selfishness?
To think of oneself is all the energy one has.


  1. Kolkata is indeed bizarro-world. And when you have a bad case of gastroenteritis (one free case with each purchase of Indian visa) it feels like your body is turning inside out!
    keep up the great writing emma!

  2. wow! Stay strong my dear friend! Have you ever read some on Mother Teresa's work? I would highly recommend it!

  3. Oh, Emma. I think about you often, but admit I haven't gotten around to reading your blog for many months. Despite your frustrations, it still is better to light a candle than curse the darkness...although we all understand that you must sometimes do both!

    Mary says, "Hi"!