Calcutta club guidebook
The Calcutta Experience
Guide for Volunteers
This guide has been designed to aid volunteers in their trip preparation as well as while working
for the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, India. This information is carefully compiled by previous volunteers of the Seattle University Calcutta Club, but its accuracy is not guaranteed. This copy was last updated in April of 2007.
Before traveling to Kolkata
Most students choose to defer for a quarter when traveling to Kolkata; however, another option
is to take Independent Study credits. Be sure to talk to your advisor about the best option for you. Also be sure to alert Financial Aid of your absence.
Feel free to talk with one of our advisors if you have more questions or just want to introduce
yourself. They are Robin Craggs (Director of Study Abroad, Bellarmine 111A, 206-296-2271, ) and Kent Koth (Director of Center for Service, Student Center Pavillion 124, ).
Your passport is probably your most vital piece of identification while traveling abroad. You
must have one or get one. Be sure to do this in advance of your departure. The cost is currently $67 plus a $30 execution fee (passport renewal cost $67). When applying for your passport, be prepared to spend a couple hours waiting in line. You will need to bring proof of US citizenship and two identical photos (this can be done at Kinko’s). The State Department has an informative website at:
If you live in Seattle and you need to apply for a new passport then you would need to go to the
King County Court House who will process your request. The address for the King County Court House is:
Other locations in King County where you can apply for your passport and more info at:
If you need an emergancy passport renewal:
Phone: 220-7788, Hours: 8:00am - 3:00pm, Monday-Friday
For further information on passports, international travel, and health advisory reports, visit the US
**NOTE: While traveling, have access to a photocopy of your original Passport, (make sure the picture is visible and
clear) in case the actual passport is lost or stolen. If needed, this precaution will make the process of obtaining a new
passport much easier.
You must have a Visa to enter India. Application forms can be downloaded from the Consulate’s
web page (see below). There are a few specifications on the application form to pay attention to:
• There may only be a six-month visa available. If so, double check with the consulate if you want
to stay under three months (this used to be an option in years past, and will cost less).
• If you plan to stay longer than four to five months, remember that a six month visa is valid
beginning when it is issued (not when you enter the country).
• The cost is currently $60. The easiest mode of payment is with a money order.
• Note the importance of obtaining a multiple entry Tourist
Visa (since you haven’t received
permission from the Government of India to do this work, you have to be a bit cautious. On paper, you are a tourist during your stay in India).
Once you have completed your application form, send it with your passport (original), a passport
photo of yourself, your money order, and a self-addressed return envelope (with the first-class return postage fee) to:
Phone: (415) 668-0657, Hours: 9:30am-4:00pm
Please note that if you are not a resident of Washington or this area of the country, you will likely need to send your visa application to a different location, for example New York City. This process may have changed so it is best to visit the website, download the form and follow the instructions therein.
It may take up to five weeks to receive your Visa through certified mail. It is important to
remember that visas begin to expire from the date of issue, not the date of entry into India. Keep this in mind as you are planning your travel schedule.
**NOTE: Keep a photocopy (or two) of your visa with you while traveling in case your
passport is lost or stolen.
(This happened in 2001.)
The best source for current recommendations for immunizations and other medical considerations
for traveling in India in the Center for Disease control. They have a travel section on their website which can tell you what you need to know for travel anywhere in the world. The address for the website is
While all the immunizations for traveling in India are recommended, they are not required to enter
the country. To find out what immunizations are currently recommended, contact the University of Washington Travel Clinic (206-548-4888) or Seattle Public Health Travel Clinic (206-296-4960). They will most likely ask you to meet with a travel nurse. During this appointment, you can discuss any questions that you may have regarding the risk factors of infections/diseases as well as scheduling for future immunizations (you may be able to get some immunizations during your first visit). Immunizations are also available to you through the Student Health Center (206-296-6300). The following information is from the Public Health clinic and the book Staying Healthy in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Be sure to ask for updated information.
• Description • Symptoms • Treatment/Prevention and Price (at the SU Student Health Center)
• Caused by bacteria that float in the air and are breathed into the respiratory route. Affects the
• Some symptoms include persistent fever, nausea, aching neck. • One injection lasts 4 years, $70.
• Comes from the bite of an animal that is infected with the rabies virus, or from their saliva
entering a wound or scratch. It is a kind of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Infected animals may carry the virus without showing symptoms. If bitten, get help immediately!
• Even with the pre-vaccination you will need two additional shots (minimum) if bitten. • 3 injections at least two months before departure, $88 each.
• Caused by a parasite carried by the Anopheles mosquito. The parasites multiply in the liver, and
• Progressive cycles of chills and headache, then fever, then sweating. • Prophylactic pills suppress the growth of the parasites in the liver. Different drugs are available.
Each regimen has a different degree of effectiveness. Some options include taking Chloroquine phosphate and Proguanil, or taking Mefloquine. Mefloquine has been known to cause side effects in volunteers, but the newer class of these drugs (Malarone) has limited side effects. Pills can be prescribed by a travel physician. They can range from $100-250 dollars depending on type and number. Proguanil is available in India (imported from the UK) for a lesser cost. Doxycycline was used by most of the 2003-4 members, and it is relatively cheap, but there can be side effects, including nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to sun. Be sure to discuss with your doctor about the effects of taking antibiotics for a long period.
• Causes an infection of the stomach and intestines that affects the whole body. It is transferred
• High fever lasting 1-2 weeks, relatively slow pulse, delirium. • One vaccine, $35.
• Viral disease of the liver. Transferred from person to person by bodily fluids (like HIV). • Symptoms are slow to develop but can be serious: fatigue, nausea, fever, dark urine, bloated and
• The vaccine is crucial since no cure is available. Vaccine, 3 doses over a 6-month period. Two
doses provide “good” protection (but remember to get the third after you return), $40.
• Different form of the Hepatitis-B virus, and transmitted differently (It is found in the stool of
• Fever, loss of appetite, possible jaundice (yellowing of skin), extreme weakness. Avoid
• Two doses of the vaccine given at least six months apart provides lasting protection. The first
dose provides adequate protection if you get it at least one month before leaving, but remember to get the second dose after returning. $32 each.
• A mosquito-borne arboviral infection that may lead to encephalitis.
• Vaccine is 70-90% effective, 3 injections over a five-week period, $83 each.
• A bacterial disease, usually affecting the lungs, that is carried by airborne droplets that may be
• Prolonged coughing, fever, weight loss, possible coughing up blood, chest pain, night sweats,
• No vaccine is available. Be sure to get tested before and after (two times after returning:
upon return and 6 months after your return)
your trip to ensure proper diagnosis.
Tuberculosis is almost always completely curable with extended drug treatment.
• Remember to wear a mask when working with Tb patients in Calcutta (Kalighat, Prem Dan).
These shots you should have had while you were young, but they may need to be updated
• Tetanus and Diphtheria, one injection, last 10 years, $15 • Polio, injection, $15 • Measles, Mumps, Rubella, one vaccine (MMR), $15
• It is recommended to have a medical and dental check up before you leave and after you return
• It is also recommended that volunteers set up a “buddy system” to contact and assist each other
if a medical or other crisis should arise in Kolkata.
• Sequenced immunizations may need as much as six months to complete to ensure the
highest possible immunity. Make sure you investigate what you need and how long it will
take well in advance of your departure.
• The SU health clinic can do many of the basic immunizations at a cheaper rate. Take advantage
of this as your tuition has already paid for it.
Everyone goes through this and it may not get better while you are there. If you think something
is getting worse though, do not hesitate to ask any of the volunteers who are nurses for their advice and
you can ask any of the long term volunteers or sister Karina about clinics you can go to. If you need to
go to the hospital
, there is nothing in Lonely planet where to go. Ask Sister Karina where to go, or you
can always ask Samson or Sundeep at Blue Sky and Fresh a Juicy where to go. SU students have gone to
Woodlands Hospital on Alipore Road (taxi from Sudder St. should cost 50 rs.) and had very good
experiences. If you need a surgeon, Dr. Soumitra Chandra is wonderful (preformed a surgery on a SU
student). There is also a Doctor who makes house calls to Salvation Army for volunteers so you can
always ask them to call him for you.
Proof of adequate medical insurance coverage is required of all volunteers going to India through
the SU Calcutta Club. Medical insurance is needed to cover accidents or illnesses that may occur in Kolkata or while traveling. We recommend investigating evacuation insurance in case of need. Some other possibilities include:
• Somerton Student Insurance Services
: This is SU’s student health insurance company. The
plan can be extended to include traveling abroad.
: Medical Insurance and Emergency Evacuation service
• International Student ID Cards
: these may come with some medical coverage abroad, but
should be supplemented for adequate coverage. ISIC cards are a requirement for all SU students going to India through the Calcutta Club.
• Family Insurance
: Check to see if you family insurance will cover overseas medical expenses,
including hospitalization on site. Most insurance companies will reimburse you for expenses in such a case, providing you keep a good record of all medical services you receive, and then file a claim after coming home.
: or other travel organizations may have travel/luggage/medical insurance. Check with
• Council Travel
: Council Travel on Broadway sells travel insurance as well with evacuation
: Travel and Evacuation Insurance can be purchased for the amount of time abroad. It is
possible to get your ISIC card at any STA office for $20. The nearest STA office to campus is on Broadway. The address is: 424 Broadway Ave. East Seattle, WA 9810 206-329-4567
• It is mandatory that you sign a SU release waiver to receive funds. These can be obtained from
• If you are receiving funds from Seattle University, you must present a copy of your plane ticket
and its cost to collect reimbursement (money raised from fundraising).
• Please give a copy of your family’s address and phone number as well as your summer contact
information and trip email address (if applicable) to a club representative. Please also give Robin Craggs’ name and number (206-296-2271) to your family so they have a contact at Seattle University in case something were to occur.
• The University of Washington offers intensive language classes in Bengali and Hindi during its
summer session. It may also be helpful to have meetings at SU with native Bengali or Hindi speaking students. Self-teaching materials and phrase books are available. Knowing just a tiny bit of the language will help you.
• We are working on creating a Calcutta Club library for your use.we recommended the
• Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
The City of Joy, D.LaPierre Asian Journey, T. Merton India, S.Brata Lonely Planet Guide, India (often known as the “Holy book for travelers”). Where There is no Doctor, D. Werner An Autobiograph or The Story of my Everiments with Truth, M.K. Gandhi Teresa of Calcutta, R. Serrou (available at the SU library) A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons, Elizabeth Bumiller
Sources of Indian Tradition, Stephen Hay Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
Life of Pi, Yann Martel Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure, Sarah MacDonald The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
In the past, a good way to gain support is by inviting family, friends, businesses, and religious
groups to donate to the Calcutta Club. Donations are tax-deductible if they are donated to the entire group (donations given to a single person in the group are not taxdeductible). Checks are payable to Seattle University (with visible notation of “Calcutta fund” on it), and can be sent to:
H. Plane Ticket/Air Fare The route you fly depends on your personal preferences. Many volunteers have traveled to areas in
Thailand, Nepal, and Japan, on the way to and from India; some of them say that doing so provides a gradual transition into India or coming back to America. Others simply went to Kolkata and then returned home. Airline prices are going to vary depending on the airline. Always mention that you are looking for a student fare; most airlines offer discounts to students. Thai, Singapore, and China Airlines are recommended. Air India has quite a high accident rating. Indian Airlines is notorious for poor time scheduling. The average cost for a ticket in 2004 (with stops in Taipei and Bangkok) was around $1200. Some travel agencies such as STA have sales during the early spring. If you are certain of your travel dates, you may be able to save several hundred dollars by purchasing your ticket in April. Ticket prices vary with stops and travel times.
STA Travel, located on Broadway near SU campus, has been helpful in finding competitive
rates. Also check on line travel services such as
I. Things to Bring to Kolkata 1. Essentials
The list below contains items that the past volunteers have found useful. Again, depending on
your tastes and comforts, you will need to choose what to bring with you. An important thing to
remember is that while in Kolkata, a major metropolis, you will have access to almost everything
that you can purchase at home
(however, the brand names and quality may not be what you are
used to). It is recommended to travel with just essentials and buy what you need there as it will be
drastically cheaper and you will not have to carry it around.
• Travel pack or hiking backpack:
It may be wise to pack for Kolkata as if you were going on
an extended camping trip. Suitcases are not recommended. You must be light and portable.
• Fanny pack or Day bag:
Good for carrying everyday items. Purses and bags can be bought in
Calcutta at New Market. (The Indians won’t know how dorky fanny packs really are!)
• Money Belt:
Meant to go around your waist or neck, this discrete pouch is a safe place for
passports and cash. This will become like a second skin.
• Disposable Syringes:
It is good to have a sterile syringe for possible injections (only a
precaution). If you don’t use them, you can donate them to the Sisters.
• Disposable gloves:
Good for messy situations while working at the centers, especially if you are
exposed to blood. Again, you can donate them if you don’t use them
Good to have when unexpected power outages occur, or when in remote areas.
A multivitamin may help you maintain your strength.
• Powdered Drink Mix: EmergenC, Gatorade, Exceed, Gerbers
etc., anything with electrolytes
to help you to re-hydrate after physical work or sickness.
can be purchased in Calcutta.
• Iodine Tablets:
Good to have if you without access to purified water. Iodine PLUS or drink mix
with Vitamin C will neutralize the iodine taste.
• Bug/Mosquito Repellent: Ultra Thon
recommended because the skin does not absorb it.
Bring enough to get you through the trip. Cutter
is another good brand and a cream called Odomos
can be purchased in Calcutta. Permanone
can be sprayed on bedding, clothing, and in
room. You might also want to pack a tube of anti-itch cortizone cream
• Mosquito Net:
Helpful to have while off-guard and sleeping. These can be bought at any
outdoor supplier, especially ARMY/NAVY surplus. Recomend getting a color other than white.
: One full-sized sheet sewn like a sleeping bag can be a blanket, or a bed sheet you know is
clean. You can also purchase a sleep sack at a outdoor supply store, silk dries fast. Again, choose a color other than white (things get dirty fast!).
• Towel/wash cloth:
large bath towels can be bought in Kolkata. Try to buy a light weight towel
becasue heavier materials will mildew. This can provide a first time for you to try out your haggling skills with the Indian merchants!
great to use as towel
, skirt, bed sheet, window coverings.
• Ear Plugs:
these are hard to find in Kolkata, so if you need them, bring them
• Sunscreen Lotion:
Non-scented won’t attract as many bugs. Remember that Calcutta is very
polluted and so you probably won’t need too much sunscreen if you plan to be in a city most of the time.
This one is debatable (whether its worth it or not), but know that it is VERY
difficult to find deoderant at New Market in Calcutta.
• Anti-Bacterial Soap (liquid bottle or 1-2 bars):
Can also buy bottles or bars of Detol
Calcutta if you run out. The rinse-free kind is nice to have before meals.
• Travel Wipes:
These are precioius and rationed while in India!
• First-Aid Kit:
Recommended basics: bandages, iodine or alcohol prep pads for wounds,
antibacterial ointment, Tylenol,
medical tape, gauze pads, and thermometer (digital or sticky strip). Also have portable kit to carry in day pack. Your travel physician may write prescriptions for you for other ointments such as Bactroban.
These are also available in Kolkata but they only have o.b. (and they are hard to
• Tooth brush/paste:
available in Kolkata.
• Toilet paper:
Can be bought on Sudder St. but you might want to bring one roll for the first
• Scrub brush:
brilliant for cleaning clothes, feet, or hotel rooms.
• Bandana (at least 2):
Nice to keep hair back, protect from lice, and a sweat catcher. Good for
men and women. You may want to bring some cloths that are bigger than the average bandana so that you can wrap your whole head to protect against lice at work.
• Combination Lock and luggage locks:
To secure room and belongings Bring your own
• Camera and Film:
If you have a digital camera, internet shops on Sudder Street can download
your pictures using just your memory card.
• Knife: Swiss Army
are good for fixing, tinkering, and opening containers.
• Sewing Kit
• Water Bottle:
can fill it up at Salvation Army
• Playing Cards
• Music system:
a CD player or iPod can help you through sickness or down time. Don’t forget to
bring a charge converter to recharge your mp3 players!
• Sun Glasses
• Duct Tape
suggestion: wrap around a nalgene to save space in your bag! Good for blisters and
• Resealable bags:
you can never have too many
Keep paper products in sealed bags to protect against the humidity
2. Non-Prescription Medication The following list is items that volunteers have brought in the past. Again, what you bring with you
is your choice. The chemists in Kolkata are usually helpful if you need anything. It helps if you have the desired medication name (generic name, not the brand name.for example acetaminophen instead of Tylenol) written down to avoid confusion with pronunciation. Drug quality may be different than in America.
To help stomach aches. Comes in pills or liquid.
• Laxative and Immodium AD:
To help regulate bowels. Pills are favorable.
• Rolaids or Tums:
This is a real nice solution to everyday stomach problems.
• Cough Medicine
• Yeast Infection Medication:
For the women, yeast infections are likely to occur after taking
• Sleeping Pills
• Lice Medication:
Although available in India, it is not as strong. Nix works well and is easy to
• Permethran Cream:
for intense bug bite itching and to cure scabees (must be applied over
EVERY Inch from the neck down, then rinse yourself and wash sheets and clothes in boiling water in the morning).
anti-nausea pills great for after throwing up when you have dry heaves. This is a
prescription med used for chemo patients and other people with chronic nausea. Your health
care provider may not feel comfortable prescribing it, but if he or she will, it’s a GREAT med to have around. You can get it from the chemists in India under its generic name, ondansetron. Another good anti nausea med you can find in India is called Zofer.
For traveling and treats, anything that packs easily will do: Granola Bars, Power Bars, dried fruit,
nuts, trail mix, beef jerky, candy, chocolate, and peanut butter. Also, it is possible to have things sent to the Mother House, so family and friends can send you goodies from home (Note: items should be sent by express air mail, or they are likely to not reach you before you return home).
Light cotton clothing is durable and easy to clean; dark colors will hide dirt. Both men and women
can buy clothes (relatively inexpensive) in India by going to market stores or tailor shops. Women should be careful not to wear revealing clothing (no tank tops, shorts) in public; long cotton skirts or dresses are conservative and comfortable. The following list is the recommended amount of clothes to bring.
• 3-4 t-shirts:
Do not bring heavy t-shirts because they will mildrew; a very light cotton fabric is
• 1 long sleeve cotton shirt
• 2 pair shorts
• 2 pair light weight pants
(sold in India/Nepal) 2 long skirts (for women—may bring more to
• Cotton spandex
may be helpful to wear under skirts to prevent chaffing
• 1 sweatshirt/polarfleece:
Can be bought for $4 on Chowringhee- again stay away from a heavy
• 1 light rain jacket with hood:
We recommend buying one in Kolkata for much cheaper.
• 2 pair of socks:
You’ll likely be wearing sandals without socks most of the time.
nylon dries fast, cotton breathes nicely. One volunteer mentioned, “it doesn’t
matter how often you do your wash, it matters how sick you get!”-- the number to bring is your choice.
Teva type shoes are popular for during the rainy seasons (floods are common) and
while working in the homes (doing laundry). Keanes are also good.
• Shower shoes:
can be bought in India
• Sturdy Shoes:
Hiking boots are good to have if you trek or walk a lot. Remember to break them
something light and comfortable, like a long t-shirt, does nicely.
Try and avoid bringing white clothes.sometimes it is just nice not knowing how dirty you are.
Volunteers have found that more money is spent at the beginning to the trip than towards the
end; it takes time to learn how to live at your personal comfort level. Most volunteers found that they spent more money getting to Kolkata than during their stay. Often, money is spent on souvenirs and
gifts. Every Calcutta Club member’s budget is different depending on how long they stay, how
they live, and how much they travel
. It is quite possible to live on six dollars ($6) a day.
Moneychangers are everywhere—but it is better to change money at a certified shop that can
give you a receipt (you will need to keep those receipts for proof of your exchange, this is helpful when buying train tickets) (try the Fairlawn to change money, they are very nice.watch out for Mrs. Smith!); ATMs for debit cards are found about everywhere and cash advances on credit cards are available only in the larger cities at the larger banks. The most recent volunteers have found that ATM cards are the most convenient form of money to bring and use while in Calcutta. Check with your bank about exchange fees.
If you choose to use traveler’s check, it is recommended to bring about $1300 in traveler’s
checks and $200 in cash. Cash is very valuable, so be careful where theft is a risk (areas like airports, train stations, etc.). There is a higher exchange rate for traveler’s checks ($1 = In Rs. 47), but it is smart to hold on to American cash for emergencies.
As you enter India, a basic rule to follow is: use common sense
. As you enter the airport, be
prepared to stand in line for customs. The officials can be inquisitive; do not be intimidated, but be polite and patient. Tell them you are a tourist and your address is a guesthouse near Sudder St. You’ll have to fill out forms (they hand them out while you are still on the plane—its a good idea to complete them as soon as you can).
Once you are through immigration, change money (a good starting number is about $50 dollars)
(or go to the ATM located in front of the building for domestic flights). If you arrive on a Friday, you may not be able to change money until Monday, so act accordingly. There are locations near Sudder St. that can change money (look for official signs of American Express or Visa). Often when you buy things such as train tickets you will be asked for the receipt for proof that you made a legal exchange of money, so always keep your receipts.
After you complete your money exchange, you will have to face another line for a prepaid taxi.
The prepaid taxi stand is in the area for domestic arrivals, so ask an official (not a taxi driver) to be directed to ti. Do NOT let the crowds of taxi drivers lure you into their cabs (they can be persuasive). The taxi stand is near the exit of the airport (but still INSIDE THE AIRPORT.do not be fooled by the card table ‘prepaid taxi stand’ outside). The person behind the window will assign you a taxi and the slip of paper with your destination written on it. Do NOT give your bags to anyone (this is to prevent you from having to pay a “handling fee”). The fee for a prepaid taxi to Sudder Street should be around 180 rupees per car (not each person).
When you reach Sudder St., get a room anywhere; choices may be limited depending on the
season. Put your bags down and recover from sensory overload. When you’re ready, scout out different locations, rooms, and prices. This guide has recommendations (see below), but guidebooks like the Lonely Planet have more descriptions and maps. If you aren’t happy where you end up, you can always relocate.
Some good questions to keep in mind while trying to find shelter include: How many people
share the bathroom? Can I receive phone calls? Is there a commons area? Is there a shared refrigerator? Are the mosquito nets? Do you get hot water for showers? Is food nearby? Can I store my belongings in
a locker? How quiet/noisy is it? Keep in mind that rooms on the ground floor are more likely to have problems with rats and flooding, though they may be cheaper.
Although the mentioned establishments are around the Sudder St. area, you are not restricted to
stay there. It is possible to live in an apartment (flat) or in a room of someone’s house; usually you hear about these opportunities through word of mouth at the Mother House. The Sisters might also be able to help you.
An important thing to remember is that the place you stay can do a lot to affect your health and
happiness. If privacy is an issue, or if you like peace and quiet (especially when you are sick) you may want to avoid the dorm-style living.
• Monica House:
This is managed by St. James Church. Its a great place to stay and is across the
street from the Mother House. It has a family atmosphere, and breakfast is included with the room rate. Lunch and dinner are served on location for about 35 rupees each. The dorms have 5-6 beds per room; there is one men’s room with four beds. It’s clean and nice with boiled drinking water (be careful though), mosquito nets, and weekly bed changes.
• Hotel Maria:
This is located on Sudder St. and Stuart Lane. The grounds are better than most,
with a small convenience store attached, and the rooms decent. Take a shower on the open roof and have parties on the roof. Rs 150 for a single Rs 350 for a triple. Phone 22520860
• Salvation Army:
This is across from the Fairlawn Hotel on Sudder St. It is a popular tourist
hostel with international travelers. The dorm-style rooms do not offer much privacy, but the common rooms are nice, there are also doubles and triples. They also have trustworthy water filters
, so you can save money there. A good way to meet other travelers from across the globe. Rs. 60. Phone 22520598
• Modern Lodge:
This has been a long-time favorite for long term volunteers. Most rooms are
doubles or triples, with a few quads or singles. Not all rooms have attached bathroom (and toilets are Indian style). The rooftop is a nice place to relax, and is frequented with nightly gatherings. Remember to be nice to the doormen, Abdul. As low as Rs. 130 for a double Rs. 300 for a triple. Phone 22524960
• Connie Catterjee House:
This is just for women. The small, shared rooms can be cramped, but
nice. It’s located north of Shishu. Bhavan on AJC Bose Road, so its far from most of the volunteer activity. Good phone and laundry service. If interested, inquire at the Mother House. Rs. 100/ meals Rs. 15.
(42 S.N. Banerjee Rd.): This establishment is very different from the YMCA on
Chowringee Rd. They even have a basketball court. You may need roommates as well as a referral from the Monica House (Fr. Manuel) to get in. Directions: go north on AJC Bose Rd. (Lower Circular Rd.) To the big intersection with a turquoise mosque across the street. This is Banerjee Rd.; turn left and walk 15 minutes paying attention to addresses. Look for the triangular YMCA insignia. It is best to arrive before 5 pm. Most likely only open to men. Phone 22492192.
• Paragon Hotel:
Next to Hotel Maria, has same ownership, similar prices and lodging as Hotel
Maria and Modern Lodge. Has a large roof top (host to wednesday night gatherings of volunteers) and a nice foyer on the ground floor. They have singles, doubles, triples, and dorms. A favorite in 2001 and again in 2003, 2004, 2005. Phone 22522445.
Bottled water is available everywhere; just be sure that the plastic seal around the nozzle is
secure before paying for it. Always carry water with you; it is easy to become dehydrated during the hot months of September through November. And as a little game, try to think of creative things to do with the hundreds of empty bottles that will collect everywhere.
It is highly recommended that volunteers register at the American Consulate soon after their
arrival (if you did not have the study abroad office register for you). They will copy your passport and sign you in. This is especially recommended given the political situation in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan right now. This will also get you put on an email list to recieve all of the important consular notices for travel in that region of Asia. The American Consulate is located on Ho Chi Minh Sarani, south, off of Chowringhee, about a 20 min walk.
Another recommendation is to grow accustomed to your surroundings before beginning to volunteer.
Visit the local sights to get your bearings. Shop at the market (but bargain hard), locate the post office, restaurants, e-mail shops, and browse at the bookstores.
Nearly anyone on Sudder St. can direct you to the Mother House (try any volunteer or blue sky
and fresh and juicy for directions). It is about a 20-minute walk through winding streets. In addition to getting directions, also ask a volunteer if there are specific times and days for new volunteer registration, in '05 registration was at 3:00 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Once at the door of the Mother House, just mention that you are there for orientation, and they will
direct you down the street (AJC Bose Rd.) to Shishu Bhavan where you will have orientation. The new volunteers will gather in the patio to fill out paper work, listen to the work schedules, mass times, and locations for volunteering.
During this orientation you will most likely meet the sister who coordinates volunteers (Sr. Karina in
2006). She will sign you up to work in one of the homes (usually it is your choice where you work, but sometimes she may request you go to a specific location that is in need of volunteers). It is an option to work two shifts a day (morning and afternoon), however it is recommended to begin with only one, and then do more if you feel up to it.
The next morning after orientation, you can begin to volunteer. It is recommended to go to Shishu
Bhavan for breakfast, then you can meet and chat with other volunteers who are traveling to your location. Just tag along—everyone does!
The sisters request that you stay at your location if at all possible. If you are having trouble or
concerns about your duties or anything else, speak with the coordinating sister; she will talk with you, and if you want to change locations, she will mostly likely move you to another home. F. Internet and E-mail
There are many places along Sudder St. to email. We recommend Net Freaks, Hotline, and Eternet
on Sudder St. where there is air conditioning, privacy, and fast computers. Vinay Rajpal is the owner of Net Freaks and is friendly and familiar with Seattle University volunteers, 30 Rs/ hour. Enternet was 20 Rs/hr, marked down to 10 if you buy 10 hrs in advance, but the computers are slower. And look around, there are new places popping up everday with even better connections and prices.
Here are some helpful Bengali words and phrases. Bengali English
Places to Volunteer
These homes are located throughout Kolkata, and the absolute best way to find out how to get there is by following other volunteers who you will meet at the Mother House during breakfast. However, in the case that no volunteers are going to the house of your choice, we have included some directions here. Also, when working at the houses, volunteers are sometimes exposed to HIV/AIDS, Tuberuclosis, and other diseases, even without knowing. Precautions such as gloves, masks, and frequent hand-washing should be taken. Volunteers should also be aware that some patients can get violent or bite.
A. Shishu Bhavan:
78, Lower Circular Road (AJC Bose Rd), Kolkata 700 014.
This is a children’s orphanage and distribution center; there are many age groups of children (from
infant to 8 years old). Also, there is a center for disabled children. It is a fiveminute walk from the Mother House, on the same side of the street. Usually, only women are accepted at this location
B. Nirmal Hriday, Kalighat:
Home for the Dying and Destitute, 251 Kalighat Rd.
This was the first center opened by Mother Teresa serving men and women who are critically ill
and/or wounded. Here, you will work with sisters and many other volunteers feeding, bathing, clothing, giving messages and administering medicine. You will also be able to spend time, hold, and talk to the patients (although you probably won’t be able to communicate in English with them). The scheduled volunteer hours are 8am-12pm and 3-6pm.
Directions to Kalighat: The subway to Kalighat is a quick and easy way to get to Kalighat. The
station is on Chowringee towards Park St., get off at Kalighat station. Then ask directions to the Kali Temple, everyone will want to help, even if you don't want them to. The cost is Rs. 4.
You can also take Bus no. 13 is located on the comer of Park and Chowringhee (many buses travel
to Kalighat; just ask the money takers leaning out from the bus when they stop). It is smart to leave about 7:25am to make it to Kalighat by 8am. Once in the area, you will probably see volunteers traveling to the yellow, temple-like building, but with Crosses/Christian markings on the top. If not, just ask anyone on the street; they are usually helpful, so don’t be intimidated. C.
Home for the dying and chronically disabled, 37, Ti1jala Rd.
At this center you will work with the sisters and other volunteers to bathe, clothe, feed and dispense
medicine and share a lot of love with the patients. A great deal of work includes daily cleaning of the center (washing linens by hand, cleaning the beds, washing the floors). This type of work requires physical stamina, but is balanced by quiet moments shared with the patients. You may also be asked to dress wounds, give massages, and help prepare lunch. Directions to Prem Dan: From Sudder St, travel to Park Circus on an auto rickshaw (Rs. 6). From here, walk past the tram depot to railway bridge #4. Walk over the bridge (over the train tracks). It will be on the left side: a large yellow building surrounded with trees, and is below street level.
If traveling from the Mother House, directions are more difficult. For the first few trips, ask to
follow a volunteer who knows their way, because it is literally a maze (but a pleasant walk). To do this, be at the Mother House around 7:20 am. D.
Shishu Bhavan, Howrah:
Children’s home for the malnurished, 33, Rosemary Ln., Howrah
This place is difficult to find, but sensational to work at. Volunteers spend most of their time playing
with and loving children of all ages, and helping the Sisters during meal times. Double check at the volunteer orientation if men are allowed at this location (they did in 2003). This home is also smaller so you have more time with each child. This home may no longer be open, we are unsure.
Directions to Shishu Bhavan, Howrah: Take a bus or train to Howrah train station. Follow the main
road (over Howrah bridge) away from the bridge two blocks until it ends. Go right two blocks to Rosemary Lane. Continue for about five minutes to where the sisters live, and they will lead you to the home.
You can also take bus 24A from Lower Circular Rd. Travel with someone who knows the way for
the first few times. This ride is about 30 minutes depending on traffic.
E. Gandhi Welfare Center
: school and daycare center for young street children, New CIT Rd.
This welfare center incorporates a nursery, a dispensary, a food distribution program, and a
pre-school. You can be involved in many levels. A popular area for volunteers is to teach for three hours
during the week (M, T, W, F, & Sat). In this situation, you are responsible to teach from 2-4pm by yourself or with another volunteer. You do not need to have any teaching experience, just a lot of love, and energy. Many club members have said that it was the most rewarding experiences in their lives. You can also work full time in other areas like the nursery or administrative work. Also, donations (coloring pens, crayons) can be brought from home, and will add to your lessons.
Directions to the GWC: Directions are very complicated to the GWC. It is about 40 minutes from
Sudder St., or an hour from the Mother House. It is best to follow a volunteer who knows their way until you feel comfortable getting there on your own. Take the subway from Park St. station on Chowringhee to Central station stop, and ask for directions.
Usually GWC is not mentioned in your orientation at the Mother House, primarily because it
requires a one month commitment and many volunteers do not stay that long. However, simply tell Sr. Karina or whichever sister is in charge that you would like to work here and it will be possible.
F. Shanti Dan:
Home for mentally ill/marginalized women and sick/malnourished children, Tengra
This center is a home for many mentally ill or abandoned women. Duties here for volunteers include
helping with laundry and meals as well as providing entertainment and activities for the women. Some women need special assistance. Directions to Shanti Dan: directions are complicated. The best thing to do is follow a volunteer. From the Mother House, travel to the bus depot in front of Sealdah train station. From there, take a pre-routed auto rickshaw. Continue for about a 10-minute walk to the gates of Shanti Dan.
G. Nabo Jibon:
Home for men and boys with disabilities
This center is for men volunteers, but they were taking women in 2003, and is run by the Brothers of
Charity. Here, volunteers care for, clean, and feed mentally ill or disabled post-pubescent men and boys. It is a long ride from the Mother House, so it is always in need to volunteers. They also have a substantive breakfast in the mornings with the brothers and volunteers at 7:00 am. On Sundays, volunteers can travel to Nabo Jibon to wash, feed, and play with the street children, as well as mend clothing.
Directions to Nabo Jibon: Again, it is best to ask a volunteer who knows the way. The volunteer
coordinators can easily introduce you to a few. It is about a 1/2hour bus ride from Howrah train station. H.
Home for children with mental and/or physical disabilities
There are two floors in Daya Dan; the more severely handicapped children live upstairs. In 2003
there were about 60 children living at Daya Dan, and both male and female volunteers worked there. Most volunteers work there in the mornings; talk to the sisters if you'd like to work afternoons. Activities include helping the children with washing and dressing and eating lunch, along with lots of singing and playing during class time. You can work with some of the children in their physical therapy room. Also, you'll get to celebrate Mass with the children in their chapel on Sundays.
Directions to Daya Dan: Ask a volunteer who knows the way. From the Mother House it is a
bus ride to Maniktala and a quick auto-rickshaw ride. From Sudder street, you can take the subway north to Girish Park. Asking around, as always, is your best bet. I.
Other Volunteer Opportunities:
Depending on funding, needs, and volunteer numbers, some locations may open up while you are
volunteering. Even if you can not regularly volunteer at a certain location, you can often visit to learn about it. The following are other volunteering opportunities that you may encounter.
• Titagarh Leprosarium:
Only occasionally open to volunteers to work, it is always open for
volunteers to visit. This community is self-sustaining with cloth and food production; and most importantly, it teaches how to prevent and treat leprosy. Volunteers will often travel in groups to visit the site. It takes about 45 minutes by train to reach the Leprosarium.
• Calcutta Rescue program:
Founded by English Dr. Jack Preger, this organization has set
up schools and medical facilities for the poor. You will most likely encounter volunteers working for CR, just ask if you want more information to be involved. To work for Calcutta Rescue you must have medical experience and a six month commitment.
On occasion, the Sisters travel to rural areas to service the poor. You may hear about
it through the volunteer coordinator or other volunteers. It is usually open to long-term volunteers. If interested, always keep your eyes and ears open for various opportunities.
Places to Eat
Choosing where and what to eat could be a difficult task. Again, it is important to use your common
sense. Some volunteers do not recommend eating food prepared by street vendors or in restaurants that foreigners don’t eat in until your stomachs have adjusted. Others say that they had no problems eating from street carts or in lesser-known establishments. Some reminders to help you are:
• Food that has been sitting or is served cold may have a higher probability of contamination. Hot
(freshly fried or sizzling) products are safer.
• Drinks containing ice cubes may cause problems if bottled water was not used. You can ask for
• Raw vegetables and fruit with edible peels (apples, carrots) may be contaminated. Foods that can
• Some say milk and curd products may cause problems, but most volunteers haven’t had any.
The following restaurants have been selected by past volunteers.
• Blue Sky:
Recently renovated and a common hangout of westerners on a corner of Sudder St.
Great coffee and hearty porridge. The mixed fruit juice is a must.
• Fresh n Juicy:
This is located across from Blue Sky on Sudder St. They have good variety and
On Park St. near the Park Hotel. It is a bit pricey for the quality of food, but it’s
air-conditioned and has amazing banana splits.
Facing Sudder St, it is cramped but good. The service is a bit slower than other
restaurants but their toasted sandwiches are pretty good.
• Jo Jo’s:
Across the street from Hotel Maria. It is similar in menu, but serves great chai and
Indian dishes, 2003's best nan award. The a/c is a nice break from the September heat.
On Madge Lane near the Salvation Army. It is run by a couple of nice mathematically
gifted Sikhs with beautiful voices. They serve good dal and chapati for the lowest price in town and have wonderful banana custard pudding. Great variety and the most authentic of the tourist restaurants near Sudder Street. Above all, Ravi is by far the coolest Indian and best waiter in India (cooler than the Marlboro Man and smoother than James Bond).
• Kookie Jar:
This is a wonderful, western bakery located off of Shakespeare Sarani with not only
wonderful desserts, but wheat bread and sandwiches as well.
On Elliot St. Heading towards Lower circular Rd. This restaurant is a coop of women
who sell art and crafts and make wonderful Indian food. Flora’s: This is down from Suruchi, on the same side of the street. The sign is posted high on the building.
• Hotel Circular:
This is located right across the street from the Mother House. They have grilled
cheese, tomato soup, Chinese, and good ice cream. Quite pricey.
• Oberoi Grand Hotel:
Here you’ll pay western prices for mediocre food, but the atmosphere is
amazing (the hotel is rated 5 star). It is like walking into a separate world which is completely disconnected from the rest of the city. Buy books and western magazines in the book shop (The Economist is a favorite.) and sit in the comfortable chairs in the lobby and read on your day off.
On Russell St., 10 minutes walk from the Park Hotel. Pizza is also good here, and they
On the corner of Free School and Lindsey are two hole-in-the-wall shops that have
stacked, grilled bread sandwiches. Amazing! The Quizno's of India.
• Health Food Center:
8/1 Dr. UN Brahmarchari St. (Louden St.) Here you can find items like
dried fruit, nuts, bread, good cheese, cookies, and cereal. The business motto is “Eat Food: Don’t allow food to eat you”.
• Kathleen’s Bakery:
This is just below the same named restaurant on Free School Street. They
have nice western deserts (rum balls!!!) and specialty breads.
• Domino’s Pizza:
Located in New Market, can’t miss it
• Pizza Hut:
Located at the end of Ho Chi Minh Sarani (away from Chowringhee)
• Veg/meat Rolls:
Venders located in New Market (one is called Snacks on Wheels) and Park St.
Cheap and really good. Also a shop on Sudder St.
On Free School St. Upscale with excellent service. Food similar to Oberoi
This is one of the many bakeries in the New Market, but by far the safest and run by
the nicest people. Their garlic bread is cheap and really buttery.
• Gupta Brothers:
It is located on Free School, and it has a great environment. It is a bit upscale,
but the prices are fair and the food is excellent.
• Jewish Bakery:
This is a wonderful bakery with great service. Everything here is tasty. It is in
• Lindsey Hotel:
Rooftop restaurant with a wonderful view of the city. Great for beers on
Wednesday nights (Thursday is your day off!)
: On Park street, treat yourself to some amazing desserts and yummy pasta! A bit
expensive, but a nice place to celebrate a birthday or other occasion.
• Fairlawn Hotel
: If your stomach needs a break or you really need some meat, you can always
pay extra at the Fairlawn, they rotate their menu and sometimes the food is a little bland but it is easy on the stomach.
: Right next to Domino’s, another treat for some ice cream.
: Foreigner-friendly street-food stand on Sudder Street outside Hotel Maria. It’s very
popular with volunteers and make sure to meet Gopal.
Mail and Correspondence
You can receive mail and packages at the Mother House. The address is:
India has a notorious postal system. Letters and packages may be screened by the government for
political reasons, or the postal employees may browse through the contests. Overall, about 80% of the packages are received. A good way to ensure the object’s delivery is to pay for the fastest service. And padded envelopes (8.5 x 11) seem to get through very well. Letters are more consistent in getting through than packages, and take about two weeks to receive.
You could also correspond via telephone. There are multiple businesses that have public phones
along Sudder St, and are labeled STD/ISD’s. In the phone booth, you will be able to watch your charges accumulate, and after the call, you can pay the attendant. This can be very expensive, as much as Rs 25/minute or more. However, if you ask around, you can find much better deals – “i-way” on Park St. is Rs 7/minute. There is also a convenient little booth right across the alley from Mother house for Rs 8/minute. Some people call home to give their family their number, and then wait for the family to call back (have your parents keep a pad and pencil near the phone to cut time and costs); this way, it is still expensive, but you don’t have to pay for it.
An important thing to keep in mind is that there is a 12.5 (or 13.5 depending on daylight savings)
hour difference between India and Seattle.
A.Things to do in Kolkata
Depending on your health, desires, and nature, you may want to get out and explore Kolkata. You
can learn about activities by asking other volunteers or browsing through the guidebooks or local
newspapers. In addition, we suggest that you are kind to yourself. If you are feeling sluggish or down,
you may want to take the day off from volunteering. Use your common sense and judgment in taking
care of your mental and physical health. Don’t be too hard on yourself. This can be a beautiful, but often
times difficult, experience. Here are some things past volunteers have done: Movies
: India’s movie industry, out of “Bollywood” in Bombay, is known worldwide. It is quite an
experience to go to a theater; also, most theaters are air-conditioned. Ferries
: You can cross the Hoogly River to one of the temples, such as the ferry from Dakineshwar to
Belur Math. We highly recommend this excursion.
Some of the fancy hotels have private swimming pools. There is a pool at a country club in
Tollygunge just near the last stop of the metro going south. Victoria Memorial:
This is only a few minutes from Sudder St. It is surrounded by acres of grass and
trees known as the Maidan, where you often find young Indians playing cricket or soccer. Howrah Bridge:
Since the opening of the "New Bridge" this is no longer the most congested bridge in
the world, but it is still fun to walk across. They also have a beautiful flower market at the base in the
morning. Religious Festivals:
Celebrations are happening all of the time in India, whether they are Muslim,
Hindu, or Christian. Hindu festivals are especially common; you are likely to catch Durga Puja in early
Ocotober, one that is extremely large as well as unique to the city of Kolkata. This and all festivals are a
brilliant time to observe how Indians celebrate a major part of their lives. Bus Tour:
This is offered through the Tourist office. Day Trips:
You can take a day trip to outlying villages like Canning. Park St. Cemetery
: This cemetery has immense sculptures and tombs dedicated to 17th and l8th
century English officials. It is surrounded by a 10 foot wall—a true oasis. The Indian Museum:
Located at the comer of Chowringee and Sudder St., this dusty museum has a
great collect of ancient statues. Maidan:
Large fields next to Chowringee wherelocal boys play cricket and football (soccer to
Americans). A great place to people watch and escape the constant honking of cars. Botanical Gardens:
A nice picnic spot with the largest Banyan Tree in the world. A nice quiet nature
walk. Great rest from the busy city. Located in Howrah, a good hour trip, but buses do go straight there
from Esplanade. Religious sites:
Birla temple, Jain temples, Kalighat, Mosques and many others. Be prepared to take
off your shoes. Theater:
Check the paper for plays in Bengali, Hindi, and English (or Hinglish). Kolkata is a cultural
hotspot, take advantage of this opportunity to experience Indian culture or just people watch. Oxford Book Store
: Located on Park St., a great place to browse and escape into a western-style
environment when really homesick! Art exhibits:
The Academy of Fine Arts on Cathedral Rd. has a permanent exhibition and often visiting
artists. You can check Kolkata newspapers for listings of theater and art shows there and elsewhere
You will most likely learn these through experiencing them. However, here are some things to keep
Don’t wear revealing or offensive clothing in public. Women may find that wearing
traditional Indian clothing such as a salwar kamiz is the most comfortable option and best way to gain the respect of Indians.
• For women travelers:
be respectful, but cautious about talking to men. Making direct eye
contact with men who you do not know may be interpreted differently in India than in the US. Most men are friendly and kind, however, western women have reputations of being “easy.” Don’t hesitate to yell if you feel uncomfortable; people will help you.
In touristy areas, it is somewhat expected to leave a tip. Also, if you’ve stayed in a
hotel for a long time and have enjoyed yourself, it is nice to occasionally give a tip to the doorman, or at least when you leave.
It isn’t uncommon for you to pay half or one third the price that was originally
offered. Again, when bargaining, be respectful and courteous.
• Taking Pictures:
This can be a difficult situation. People are often drawn to cameras. It is polite
to ask someone before taking pictures. Be especially respectful and cautious if you want to take a picture of a child. Just as in the US, Indian parents must worry about pedophilia. It is illegal to take pictures on public busses and trains. If you have a problem with others taking pictures of you (usually on a camera phone), assertively ask them to stop.
• Directing your feet:
When at temples specifically, make sure not to point the bottoms of your
feet at anything sacred or anyone. In homes and temples, remove your shoes before entering.
• Use your right hand:
Never use your left hand to eat, shake hands, etc. This hand is strictly for
In addition to working for the Missionaries while in India, many volunteers have traveled and
explored other areas and aspects of Indian culture.
Most volunteers traveled by train. Overall, they have found that buying a second-class sleeper ticket
was the best deal; also, many travelers went in at least in pairs to make traveling a bit safer (theft is quite common on trains, so lock up your bags with a lock and don’t leave any of your things where you can’t keep on eye on them). There are many booking agencies in tourist areas. The government run booking office in Calcutta is in the BBD Bagh neighborhood on Fairlie Place near Sudder St. This office won’t charge you extra for their commission. (In addition to your passport, bring your encashment receipts from exchanging money when you purchase your ticket). The most expedient way to get around is by planes, but fares aren’t that cheap. Here are some recommended areas.
: Located in northeast India, near Nepal, this town is a beautiful place to retreat. The
mountains and trekking are the best in the world. It is really cold during December through February, so be prepared (warm clothing and supplies can be bought/rented on location). The people are delightful and there is a great deal of Tibetan food and culture here. Specific areas of interest have been the Tibetan Refugee Center and the Buddhist monasteries.
Although India’s neighbor, Nepal has its own distinct “flavor.” The capital, Kathmandu,
is famous for its food. Other things to do in Nepal are travel to Pokhara, a small town on a lake, Nagarkot (near Mt. Everest), or south to Chitwan National Park, where you can see rhinos. Get your visa a head of time or at least have enough US dollars to pay for the visa at the border ($18 in 2005). In addition, it is recommended that you enter Nepal through a large border town, such as the one near Varanasi. Past volunteers have had problems with the border town near Darjeeling. Be sure to check the news before leaving for Nepal as it is in a civil war right now.
• Agra, home to the Taj Mahal
: See one of the seven wonders for yourself. Many recomend to
get in and get out.Agra doesn’t have much else to speak of.
South of Kolkata, it is a good escape if you want to see the ocean. Rent a bicycle, go
shoping, and bike along the ocean; you will soon be alone for the first time in India.
: a popular tourist area in southwestern India
At the southern tip of India, the beaches are beautiful.
On the western side of India, in the Rajasthan desert. Many camels and beautiful
colors here. The annual Camel Festival is held here in February.a great experience.
A Hindu religious city on the bank of the holy river Ganga (or “Ganges”) that has
been around since before Christianity. Considered by many to be the holiest city in India,
thousands flock here annually to die and be cremated on the holy ghats, and then have their ashes scattered into “Mother Ganga.” This city has a spiritual and historic aura.
Orchha is a small lost capital located in Madya Pradesh, by Jhansi. This town is a 5
hour train ride from Agra and a beautiful place to relax and wander through ancient temples and
palaces. You can also go swimming in the clean
Betwa River or watch the monkies play on a
See ancient sacred temples portraying various aspects of life. Known for its
explicit sexual carvings. It is out in the middle of no where, but a must see. Rent a bike in town and follow the road past the western set of temples. Follow the road to the bluff up ahead where you will step back in time and see a simple indian villiage next to a river as a 747 roars above you.
Take time to reflect on the experiences you are having via journals, letters, or conversation. All
types of communication will make your experience more complete. You’ll probably experience a spectrum of emotions, and talking or writing about them may help you.
When you return, don’t be alarmed if it takes time to readjust to “home.” Things may seem different.
Moving right back into the schedule of college classes may present some difficulties. Keep this in mind. It is important to have people to talk with, as well; stay in touch with family, friends, and volunteers so you have people to turn to. Remember that the Calcutta Club is here to support you. Contact others who have been to Calcutta if you need someone to talk to. Take time for yourself, relax, and be patient with the transition and integration of this incredible experience. See the following pages on culture shock.
Also, to help future volunteers, please keep a record of advice and ideas you wish were included in
this guide. Especially in the early days in Kolkata, make a note of items you wish you had or wish you hadn’t bothered to bring.
In addition to mentally adjusting when you return, you will also want to go to the doctor for a check
up. It is recommended to give a stool and urine sample (insist on this even if you don’t have symptoms). Also, have a TB test done (twice: once upon return an then again after six months). Some clinics recommended a blood test and chest x-ray, but it is your discretion.
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