Scrapbook: My Indian Adventure: Volunteering in a Mental Health Hospital
Kolkata

From West to East

I always knew it was going to a great adjustment coming from the comfort of the Surrey suburbs to an impoverished hospital run mostly by generous but insufficient donation. The change slapped me straight in the face as I arrived through the terminal and driven tumultuously through noisy Kolkata. The only signs of wealth amongst the rubble buildings and cycle-rickshaws were the stamps of commercialism, whether that was the Vodafone sign on every available wall or giant billboards advertising the latest skin whitening product. In fact, one of the patients asked me what moisturiser I use in an attempt to understand my milky complexion.

After a few days, I feel much better adjusted to the food, heat and time zone. I'm learning my way around the faces on the wards with activities such as bingo and cards. I've also been welcomed by the only other milky complexion on site, Aunty pat. She took me to church and the mall on Sunday and invited me round for tea and cake this afternoon. And suddenly I don't feel so far from the west after all!