As many of you know, the California primary is June 7th, and my dad, the Santa Cruz County Supervisor, is up for re-election! I had reregistered to vote in CA so I could vote for him, but my ballot did not get sent in time and arrived in Boston after I had already left for India. I was incredible disappointed at the thought of not being able to vote at all in a primary this year, until I learned that CA accepts vote-by-fax ballots! I received by ballot by email, filled it out, and signed my fax oath (to relinquish my right to a secret ballot). I was ecstatic at the thought of being able to vote all the way from India! That is, until I learned how rare fax machine here seem to be. I tried in Kolkata, but the fax machine at our hotel was broken. I tried to find one in Durgapur, but after driving through the city for a while, we could not find one. We are now in Shillong and I have yet to find someone who has a working fax. I will keep you updated as I search through northern India for the machine that will allow me to participate in democracy.
UPDATE (6.3.16): I found a fax machine! After trying at over ten different places in three Indian cities, I finally found a working international fax machine in Shillong! The man who ran the fax first dialed the number wrong and it almost didn’t go through, but I convinced him to retry (and promised I would pay no matter what) and the connection went through! The entire thing cost 230 rupees or about $3.40, which was totally worth it to be able to cast my vote!
In other news, we have reached Shillong after an eventful two days in Durgapur, a small steel town outside of Kolkata where Dr. Ganguly grew up. After driving from Kolkata for about 6-7 hours, we arrived in Durgapur and visited Dr. Ganguly’s primary/secondary school as well as a dam and one of his friend’s homes (to see how people here live), all before reaching out hotel around 10/11 PM. We woke up early (a common occurrence) to drive a few hours to the Maithon Dam in Asansol where we got into speed boats and played at a very strange playground on an island for about an hour. We did make it to a hydropower plant and took a tour before beginning the drive back to Kolkata, which took about 8 hours (very different than the three hours we were told). We repacked our belongings and tried to get a few hours of sleep before our flight to Guwahati the next morning.
Our flight to Guwahati, the capital of Assam, was short and uneventful. We loaded into small cars and began the ascent to Shillong, which is a hill stop on the way to the Himalayas. Everything on the drive was so green and as we got higher, the temperature began to drop until it reached about 70 degrees F, a very welcome temperature after weeks of 100+ degree heat. We stopped a few times for admire the view and drink tea on the side of the road before reaching our hotel, a heritage castle that we have all to ourselves. I can’t wait to explore more of Shillong in the next few days and enjoy this pleasant break from the heat!