First few days passed by understanding the project. Chris decided to rent a single room flat for himself, in the same building in which Pranesh lived, that apartment building was built targetting single men and women living away from their homes, to work in Kolkata, very safe, dignified, absolutely perfect for Chris.
She and Pranesh accompanied him for his furniture shopping, to save him from being robbed mainly. They both knew the strange complex of shop-keepers when they noticed a foreigner, they instantly assumed that the person had a dollar tree at home, always overladen with dollars. It was quite humilliating but…. it was a part of harsh reality, they were too naive to understand reality. Both parties, the foreighners and shopkeepers.
Tandra was sloppy at bargains but Pranesh was expert.
They settled down in Chris’s flat for a dinner, it was quite a joy for Tandra to see how they both helped her in cooking and cleaning up afterwards.
Tandra lived a few blocks away so they settled down for a little chat after dinner.
There were certain things that Chris had to know.
“The most of the girls you will meet here are rescued from various exploiters. Some of them are from abusive parents, some from employers and others worse places.” Tandra said. “Have a very compassionate heart from that but dont mistake them with fallen angels or something. These girls can be easily blackmailed, arm-twisted into doing something dangerous. So, it will very intelligent for you to keep either Pranesh or me with you when you are interacting with them, dont make any individual contacts… if you want to talk with them, always do it in open, preferably in a group. Dont forget that you dont know the language in which they are talking and mostly vice versa.”
“The pleasure seekers from your countries have quite blackwashed the images of phillanthropists so practice safety.”
He nodded. “I will love to learn Bengali… ”
“Well, we will arrange a tutor for that, and you can always practice with us…. we will be here to rectify you to the utmost perfection.” Pranesh said.
Tandra left at nine. Pranesh stayed back for a while. The flat was perfectly arranged.
“See you tomorrow …” Chris and Pranesh waited till she started her car then went back inside.
She reached office at eight, Chris was already sitting in his chair.
“Did you slept?” she asked with a smile.
“Woke up early….” he smiled back, went out for a little walk beside Ganges, its beautiful at dawn…
“Yes…” she said, “I too go out quite often…”
“Can I see the factory?” he asked after reading through the project papers vaguely, “… and can I borrow these papers to home?”
“You can keep them, they are xeroxes specially made for you, the originals stay in the vault, we all keep the xeroxes, dont worry, i too take mine home often.” Tandra handed him his copy of the vault key.
“Let’s go…” she stood up.
They went to the factory where the girls were working.
They had a set of projects working side by side, the girls were trained as per their aptitude and talents to join the project best for them and the office.
Every since her youth Tandra has felt sad for these girls, so burdened by their famillies. Some were married off as small children, to bear kids while they were kids themselves, later on, diseases showed up, and poverty… So, she tried to save them from the mother of all problems, early marriage, every time a girl banged her door to save herself from marriage she talked with her parents and offered her free accomodation, training, fooding and later a job. A huge number of girls stayed back, they paid hostel fees after getting the job and tried to help their famillies.
The second group mostly had nowhere to go, the girls rescued from brothels or abusive employers. They needed physical and psychiatric helps too, but fortunately a lot of doctors offered free service to her shelter and that part was handled by them. Tandra tried with everything to keep this group emotionally and financially stable. They were the ones who needed so much love and protection.
She was really happy to have Pranesh and now Chris by her side, Pranesh has been working with her for a while, she knew that his desire to help was straight from soul, Chris too was giving a strong vibe that he meant what he wrote. He wanted to help these girls.
“By the way…” she said. “Pranesh orders from their canteen- lunch and dinner… you can order for every day, or once in a while if you want to eat Indian food, they cook really good and have lot of choices, they cater to a lot of offices nearby…dont worry about hygiene … that is well taken care of.” Tandra said. “I too sometimes order when I dont want to eat my own cooking…”
“I will ….but not today.” Chris smiled.
The girls were busy in their own small chores, chattering like a cage full of canaries.
The next department was embroidery and cutworks, in this department the girls were taught ethnic Indian styles and modern styles and then they were utilized in clothes and other articles.
“Do these girls do the selling, marketing part too?” Chris asked.
“No… we have a office for that, Pranesh handles it, boys collect the materials from there or here and deliver to their places.” Tandra answered. “That is safer and smarter… men wont feel deprived…”
to be continued…..
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