Dressed in an orange ghagra and kurta and her blonde hair covered with a stole, Katrina Potoska is a centre of attraction for curious onlookers at the flood relief camp at Rishikesh Bus Terminus.
The bemused glances thrown at her are not because she is the only white woman in the huge camp but because she is a volunteer picking up discarded cartons, plastic cups and paper plates to keep the relief camp clean.
Potoska, who shied away from revealing her age, is from Warsaw, Poland and now lives in Rishikesh with her son Ram (9), who helps his mother to clear garbage from the camp.
She was at Gangotri when flash floods affected the area. “I managed to survive and saw both death and generosity at close quarters on my way down. So many people helped us to survive and I decided to do sewa when back in Rishikesh,” she said.
“The disaster was god’s act. No one had control over it but the courageous Indian army acted in wonderful manner in rescuing the pilgrims,” she added.