From Bihar to Brooklyn, to Berlin: A Quest for Sustainability and Soul


Black like coal. From the air and into my being. One could not wipe it away. Beads of sweat drew streaks of coal dust that stubbornly stuck to damp skin. Did I wash my hands? asked my grandmother before allowing me to eat. Yes. But I could not scrub away the grit embedded under my nails. Did I wash my feet? Yes, but now the towels were gray. Did I wash my mouth? Yes, and with a gargle that could not shake the ooze stuck in my nose. I associated that coal with visits to my grandfather’s home during Dhunbad summers in Bihar, India. His cement home was made ugly by the industry that supported his comfortable life from the 1950s to 1970s.