The Telegraph
Sunday , January 19 , 2014
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Date with street food

David Carroll shoots for the calendar. Picture by Sanjoy Ghosh

A documentary film they watched on TV was enough to convince an elderly American couple to fly all the way to Calcutta and volunteer with a city NGO. Their labour of love has led to a calendar with street food as theme.

Jean and David Carroll were watching the state-run channel PBS in their Los Angeles home when they caught the Stanford University-produced documentary film The Revolutionary Optimists.

The film is based on the work of Amlan Ganguly, the founder-president of Prayasam, with children of slums and brick fields. “We were very impressed that they were using the capabilities of children in helping them solve issues in their own community. As teachers, we believe in the creativity of young people,” said David, who taught biology in high school before retirement.

Wife Jean was a primary school teacher. “David loves taking pictures so we asked him to shoot some pictures for the calendar we are planning,” said Ganguly. Over the past couple of weeks, Jean and David, along with coordinator Saptarshi, have been following boys and girls from the impoverished areas Prayasam works in who posed for pictures. “I ate hawai mithai (candy floss) and daal pakoda in north Calcutta, Salim ate gola (ice cream) in front of Victoria Memorial, Manish ate biryani near Rabindra Sadan and Sujit ate 20 phuchkas at New Market till the shot was perfect,” giggled Bina Majhi of Mahisbathan.

“A tour of India has long been on our mind but it is nice to do it with a sense of purpose and be a part of something. It’s not things that make a city but its people,” said Jean, who corrected the English in the calendar’s side panels that contain a brief profile of the youngster featured on the page.

For 10 years, the Carrolls have been visiting China, teaching English as volunteers of NGOs. No wonder the only street food they have ventured to taste in Calcutta is chowmein.

Pet world

Playful Labrador puppies, screeching macaws, a vegetarian Brazilian Iguana and a sleepy long-haired guinea pig found their way to Park Street as part of Pet Fair 2014 on January 10, 11 and 12.

Organised by Asparagus Events, the fair saw 15 breeders and pet stores from Calcutta, and other parts of the country, joining hands. One could hop in and choose from a collection of birds, puppies, fishes and rabbits and even take home a few accessories and food for them. Trainers, vets and groomers were also present to provide valuable tips. “This year the footfall was over 9,000,” said Pritam Dutta, one of the organisers.

Student meet

The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) organised its 26th Regional Conference of Student Company Secretaries at Science City auditorium from January 5 to 8.

“Our institute has completed 25 years. Thus we planned a grand celebration over three days. Most of the participants are either company secretaries or are training to be one,” said Deepak Kumar Khaitan, the programme director.

(Contributed by Sudeshna Banerjee, Chandreyee Ghose and Showli Chakraborty)