Made by Survivors | Adria Doll, our new intern
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Adria Doll, our new intern

28 Oct 2009, by elance programmer in Uncategorized

A few weeks ago, a married couple from Canada arrived to intern for the next three months at Destiny, Sanlaap, and Women’s Interlink Foundation. They are AWESOME! Adria is in the Health Science Department at Simon Fraser University, and her husband Graham was a records officer with the Vancouver Police Department. Both have started teaching English and computers to the Destiny women, helped us organize our shipping documents (of which there are hundreds) and even helped prepare for our first exhibition. 

Adria will be contributing to the Destiny blog and here’s her first one. Enjoy!

It has taken a little over two weeks for us to gain internet access in our part of the house. But, as I am learning quickly, this wait was no time at all according to “Indian Standard Time.” Nearly three weeks in Kolkata leaves many stories to be told. Some funny and entertaining, some heartbreaking. I am not sure where to begin, so we’ll start with the most recent of the funny and entertaining stories.

West Bengal is a fantastic state, and Kolkata a fascinating city. We (my husband and I) are living with a rather progressive national family. The woman of the household is the founder of the NGO I am working for, as well as my supervisor. She and her husband have opened their home and family to us, making us feel quite comfortable and a bit like perhaps one day, we too, will be Bengali.

In an effort to not take the Sengupta’s hospitality for granted, and to avoid wearing out our welcome, we’ve attempted to cook a few Indian dishes to supplement dinners. This past weekend, a long holiday weekend, Graham and I finally “cooked western food”. Smarita’s request was salad with oil and vinegar…as she had read about in books. So, off Graham and I went on a hunt for lettuce and balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegar we found, but lettuce we did not. Fortunately for us, spinach is still in season. The menu: spinach, pomegranates, boiled eggs, cashews, red onion, and grated gouda cheese with an oil & vinegar dressing. Any good westerner knows, salad is an easy dinner, yet our new Indian family was convinced the task was a arduous one. As the family gathered for dinner (which included, beyond our salad, rice, daal, and veggie curry), each one asked if we had steamed or blanched or boiled the palak (spinach).
“No, no, it’s raw…” we responded.
“Raw?!?”
“Yes, raw. You don’t cook spinach for this kind of salad.”
Hesitatingly: “I’ve never had raw spinach!!”
While someone else inquired with concern, “Is the spinach washed, at least?”

Graham and I assured them the spinach was washed while we tossed the salad, and served it up…hopeful that perhaps we wouldn’t have to eat all of it. At first we took the compliments as polite courtesy. But then we realized the two bowls of salad we had made were nearly gone, and we had not yet eaten! In fact, Smarita was so happy with her oil and vinegar salad, she did not eat any rice or daal (quite a statement for an Indian)!

There were a couple of family members and friends who were not present on the salad evening. One young fellow in particular has not yet stopped reminding me every time I see him to call him the next time I make a salad. In the next week or so I think maybe we will try a Caesar salad with chicken…that is if we can find the romaine lettuce.

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