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A moment in Kolkata

It’s been seven months since I arrived in Kolkata, a world away from my home in New Zealand, to work at The Loyal Workshop. A singular anecdote couldn’t do justice to breadth of emotion that can be contained within any moment of life here. So in an attempt to give you some insight into my experience of Kolkata so far, here are a few glimpses. 

…Of letting go of so much of the comfort and security of home, yet still knowing greater comfort and security than most of my neighbours and friends here. 

…Of mourning the loss of independence, outdoor space and anonymity for my ‘blonde beacon’ children, and embracing the opportunity to broaden their worldview by experiencing this incredible place. 

…Of disgust at rubbish strewn in the streets and delight at charming narrow lanes of character filled buildings with brightly coloured shutters. 

…Of frustration at the time and energy involved in running basic errands with young kids in tow, and the thrill of careening along the street in an auto rickshaw or squeezing onto an overcrowded metro. 

…Of the heartbreaking injustice of a woman sitting on the footpath with all her possessions piled beside her and her tiny baby asleep on a blanket. And the heartwarming connection when she returns my smile and greeting each day as I walk past. 

…Of the embarrassment of constant language struggles, cultural fumbles and general confusion. And the grace with which the women at work accept me each day. 

…Of slowly increasing insight into the ongoing struggles and hardship faced by so many in our new Loyal family, and wider community. And learning the many ways in which women are growing in freedom through this opportunity for employment with The Loyal Workshop. 

…Of feeling like I have so little to contribute as a new foreigner to this place. And of knowing that being a foreigner is valuable in my role as I connect this community with our customers and advocates around the world. 

Kolkata is never just one thing, it’s so many different things and often all at the same time. And this is where I want to be right now, working with a business that isn’t just a business, but a place of love, acceptance and freedom.