Sundarban Jungle Cruise – Weekend #2

The entire team decided to take a safari into the jungle to the largest delta in the world. We went by boat to see the mangrove forests in the delta region of West Bengal and also one of the largest reserves for the Royal Bengal Tiger. They say that you might be lucky to see these tigers in the wild….sadly, we weren’t that lucky…but we still had a great time!

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We saw dolphins, many different types of birds, a wild boar, spotted deer, crabs, mud skippers and monkeys. As we cruised by the mangrove trees, you could squint your eyes and watch the alternating light and shadow and imagine that the tigers were watching you go by.

Here’s a breakdown of the weekend:

Day 1

8.00 am: Left the Senator Hotel first thing in the morning. Our bus ride was 3+ hours to reach Godkhali Port where the main road ends. The ride was very bumpy and also stop-and-go the whole way. We were all a little rattled at the end of this leg.

12:00 pm: Boarded our boat and started our journey on the river.  The top deck was set up for nature viewing. The lower deck had the sleeping cabins, bathroom and kitchen. The plan was for 11 CSC team members, 2 guides, and 3 crew to all spend the night on the boat pictured below.

3.00 pm: We docked the boat and went on the village walking tour to see the local market, honey collectors and fishermen.

7.00 pm: Our guide was informed that a storm was going to come in that night and it wasn’t safe for us to stay on the boat. He was able to secure rooms for us at one of the lodges just outside of the reserve. In the end, it was probably for the best since we couldn’t figure out how everyone was going to fit into a sleeping area for the night anyway.

9.00 pm: We had dinner at the lodge in the outdoor patio area. We shared the large patio with a few other families who were singing regional songs. The music was entertaining.

Day 2

6.00 am: We had breakfast on the boat en route to the entrance to the reserve. Our guide was the first in line to get our day permits to enter the park. Over the course of the day, we went to 3 watch towers and got a birds-eye view of the jungle and a few spotted deer.

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In between the watch towers, we sat on the top deck watching the scenery, playing cards and competing in Carrom (a popular East Asian board game that is sort of like billiards). They boat crew got in on the action and helped us with some strategy and then challenged Tiago and Flavio to a game. Team Brazil won!

4.00 pm: We got back on the bus for 3+ hours and all feel asleep for most of the ride

8 pm: We arrived back at the Senator Hotel in Kolkata tired and dirty but met for dinner to recap our adventure.

A big thank you goes out to Steve and Matilde for organizing the trip. It was great!

See more photos at flickr.com/jilldaffodil.

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Victoria Memorial & Kolkata Walking Tour

Part of the CSC India 19 team took a short walk from our hotel to see The Victoria Memorial. It was a super hot day but we got lots of great photos and saw some amazing art work inside the Memorial.

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We met up with the rest of the team and our Kolkata expert, Sanjay Paul, for an afternoon walking tour through the city. We ended up down by the Hooghly River and got ice cream.

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See more photos at flickr.com/jilldaffodil.

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Ichhe Dana – What a Way to Start our First Weekend in Kolkata

The CSC India 19 team and IBM Kolkata volunteers spent the morning of March 9th at Ichhe Dana meeting with their amazing students.

The children are all very talented and presented Bengali poetry, art, dancing, musical drama, and science. Mikimasa was the star of the morning  with a Polaroid camera to give the children (almost) instant photos. He also led 4 groups of children in making origami cranes and hats. The rest of the CSC team tried to follow along but got lost after the first 3 or 4 steps. The children did so well and successfully completed at least an origami hat.

Elsa brought Salsa music and, with help from Jocelyn, taught several steps. In return, the children taught us Indian Bollywood dancing. The morning was one of the highlights of our stay in Kolkata.

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I love my original piece of art! See more photos from our Ichhe Dana visit at flickr.com/jilldaffodil.

Ichhe Dana encourages children continued access to education that they typically don’t receive at their regular school and allows them to develop and grow their talents in language, science, visual & performing arts and reading.

Visit http://www.ichhedana.org.in/ to learn more about this organization.

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A Great Day with Prayasam and CSC India19!

I’m thrilled to end week #2 on a positive note. Fides, Tiago and I had a wonderful time during our workshop on Personal Branding and Media Awareness today. We spend 2 hours with the Prayasam team discussing best practices, role playing and sharing experiences. The Prayasam team has been great to work with and it was so fun to have the opportunity to spend the entire morning with them today Thanks!

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“Peace begins with a smile”

– Mother Teresa (Before leaving for India I did a Google search on quotes from Mother Teresa. The simplicity of this quote really resonated with me.)

During our first week in Kolkata, the CSC India 19 team visited Mother Teresa’s Mission and Motherhouse. The sisters in the Motherhouse were very friendly and helpful and had a smile for every visitor. You can’t help but feel welcome during your visit.

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We paid our respects at Mother Teresa’s tomb within the Sisters of Charity’s Motherhouse and toured the small museum displaying Teresa’s worn sandals, worn utensils and other artifacts. Mother Teresa’s room is up the stairs and displays a crown-of-thorns above her bed.

The house was quiet and peaceful – a nice contrast to the sensory overload of being out on the streets of Kolkata. The noise and activity is really fun to experience but was a bit overwhelming at first.

On the other end of the noise spectrum, but equally interesting, was our visit to the Kalighat Kali Temple – a Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali.

Getting to the temple was an adventure in itself. We took the Metro and then walked a few blocks up the crowed streets and through a street bazaar to get there.

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We were told that Kali is worshiped much like a human mother and visitors bring her their domestic problems and prayers for prosperity, often returning when their prayers are fulfilled to express their gratitude.

We had a guide to show us through the temple and take us to the Kalighat Temple Tank (Kundupukur), which is situated in the south-east of the temple outside the boundary walls. We were barefoot the entire time which was a bit unnerving. However, I was not brave enough to wash my feet in the water from the tank at the end of our tour.

It was awesome to visit at night so that we could see the lighting colors slowly change.

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