Since first visiting in 2004, I have spent a lot of time in Kolkata, the City of Joy. I liked it from the moment I landed.
We have relatives who live not far from the Kalighat metro, Lake Market, Gariahat and the busy Rash Behari Avenue so have wandered purposefully, and aimlessly, around these locations drinking in the wonderful street life and delighting in all visual stimulation.
These photos were taken in February 2017, around Rash Behari Avenue and Purna Das Road – on the walk between our hotel and our relatives.
Eating is a favourite past-time. There are so many tea stalls, sweet and food shops to entice and delight as well as people selling fresh vegetables and snacks. Food shops stay open late so you can wander along most streets and find what you need for dinner or what you don’t need for your waist!
This is a board game. I have seen it played outside in the open all over India and Nepal. I spotted this game at the busy Lake Market. They were playing under some makeshift shelter; this image reminds me of a late night pool hall.
People here have a different relationship to privacy from me … I am learning that slowly but surely. A woman came up to me whilst I was drawing in the street wanting to see my sketch book. I showed her – she is also an artist – and confessed that I felt a bit shy about my private sketchbooks. She told me that other than the bathroom and something else which I didn’t catch, there is no privacy or expectation of privacy in India. So lying on your stall, catching up on the morning newspaper is quite normal.
There are so many small shrines along the roadside. This one is on the street near what was once a refugee camp for people dislocated during partition. It is no longer a refugee camp, but is village-like in its amenity and home to many poor people. On our walk back we noticed a person asleep on the street in front of this particular temple. Sleeping on the streets is common here – nonetheless we wondered if this holy site was chosen with spiritual intent.
The streets become very quiet around 11 pm. One night we were wandering home an hour or so later than usual and noticed these others on their way home too.