Margaux Mortureux, 28, Coach,
Life Project Center Hossenpur, Kolkata, India
Even if the period is difficult for everybody, the lockdown allowed to get closer to our neighbors. We discovered great people, helping neighbors and who knows, new friends ? We would like to introduce you to the neighborhood of Hossenpur and the amazing people we met !
Our center is in a quiet area where flowers, yellow taxis and colorful houses mix. We hear birds, vegetables street salers and the buffalos walking. Around us, there are many shop keepers, workers, salers with who we have forged links. Come with us for Hossenpur visit !
When you leave the center, you come across Prabir, our favorite shop keeper ! Always smiling, he took care of us during the lockdown. He helped us to repair a window, to find gas and our turn, we helped him to save his ice creams after a power outage. If we need a translater, we know we can count on him. For Elodie, it’s a pleasure to tell him her few words learning in Bengali and teach him how to say « bonjour, ça va ? » !
Let’s continue in the main road of Hossenpur to meet Ajit ! He sells vegetables everyday and accepted to deliver us some of them one time per week. We just need to send him our list and the next day we receive a fresh delivery of good vegetables ! Lucky we are ! Annelise, who learns Hindi, speaks with him and practices the food vocabulary (now, she knows all the Hindi names of vegetables) ! If we need something, we also know that he can help us. During a crisis period, it is very important to feel good in an area and to have support from neighbors.
In front of Ajit, if you want to take a break, you can drink a delicious chaï. Shy, smiling, laughing… she is our ray of sunshine ! For Margaux, it is like a ritual. She does shopping, then she orders « ek chaï ! » and can sit during one hour to watch life come alive on the street. At the beginning, she was too shy to take a picture but when she saw all her friends and all the smiles, she laughed so much and finally accept to do it.
Few meters after, you can buy fruits with Pabitra. He looks teasing and he readily responds to our « Namaskar ! » that we scream in the middle of the street. Bananas, papayas, coconut, mango… he wants to sell us everything and is amused to negociate with Rachel thanks to whom he discovered the Lebanese money. Now, when we see him, he proudly shows us the note she gave him !
A little further, our hero : Gitendra ! Why a hero ? Because he searches around the city to find us toilet paper during the lockdown, which is rare in India ! For French volunteers like us, I think it was the thing we were most afraid of missing ! Gitendra is also the only one to sell chocolate in the street, the second thing we need the most in recent months.
Just after Gitendra’s shop, always in the main road, there is Nikhil. When we want to eat good papayas and juicy mangoes, we can count on our second favorite fruit seller. He treats the fruits with remarkable sweetness, he takes the time to choose them well and to place them calmly in our bags. His stall is always tidy, we often want to buy everything from him !
Finally, when it’s time to go back at home, few minutes after arriving, we hear the doorbell ring : it’s Sanjay ! « Hello Sanjay, how are you ? we missed you ! » - « Yes, yes… How many empty bottles ? ». Sanjay is our water seller and deliver. During the lockdown, he came 2 or 3 times per week, by bicycle, with many 20 liters water jars. He doesn’t speak a lot but he become more and more relaxed (thanks to Elodie’s jokes !).
This is funny because if we didn’t live the lockdown, maybe we would never be so close to them. Now, we really feel integrated into the neighborhood and we can really say that we are at home !