Kolkata always welcome me with a roar. From the moment I step off the plane, I can smell and taste the city lights before I see it. Monsoon season arrived early, and the weather is hot and humid. Kolkata is a hard place to navigate due to the language barrier, cultural difference, gender bias and skin tone discrimination. Despite all of this, I love Kolkata and the country of India. What I appreciate most about India is the food, diversity, and wonders. My name is Akudo; I am a graduate. I will continue working with two local partners on a community-based research project on water, sanitation and hygiene in the rural villages of Kolkata and West Bengal. This work started two years ago ago and I am very excited to see the work progress.
The street food reminds me of home. You have to be safe when eating street food from anywhere including the United States. I try to go to the places that draw large crowds and make sure that I visit the same vendors to establish good rapport. My favorite is the chickpeas kathi roll. I also love getting fresh sugar cane juice from an my favorite street vendor and her husband. They sometimes ask me very personal questions about my love life and even offered to help me find a husband. Food is where the heart is. Kolkata definitely has my heart…and my wallet.
I love the robust street life in the in Kolkata. I’m very cautious and alert when crossing the street during rush hour. I love riding the tok-tok and get to share a ride with different people. Many folks would either stare at me, ignored me, or try to spark a conversation. I have been able to pick up words like Dhan’yabāda (“Thank you”).
Women are often vulnerable to harassment or violence when they have to travel long distances to fetch water, use shared toilets, or practice open defecation. Women and girls often wait until nightfall to defecate, which increases the risk of assault. Convenient access to sanitation facilities increase privacy and reduce risk to women and girls of harassment. Water and sanitation play a crucial role in the transmission of diarrheal disease. My research is focused on specific WASH waterborne diseases that are more susceptible to global climate change and change.