Tag Archives: sudder street

Kolkata: City of Joy

A woman walks down an alley to her home.

The City of Joy has been many things, but easily photographed is not one of them.

A huge sprawling metropolis, the former British colonial capital always seemed like an impossibly foreign place to me when I was younger. Hearing the name Calcutta on a news report or reading it in a book was always synonymous with poverty and underdevelopment in my mind. Growing up in small town Canada, Calcutta (now Kolkata) was the land of Mother Theresa and sweatshops, definitely not a place I ever thought I’d be. I suppose that’s why I chose it as my first stop in India, as a way to dispel some of my preconceptions – and I’m glad I did.

It can be a difficult city to work in; the people are busy in a big-city sort of way and don’t have the time or the patience for having their picture taken. In some cases there is open hostility in the eyes of people when they see me carrying a camera. I have been physically shooed away by irritated housewives on several occasions while lingering around an interesting location. This can be extremely frustrating (as I use quite a wide angle lens, I have to get so close that I generally require some level of acceptance from people), but it’s also understandable. I’d be equally discourteous to someone standing outside my house taking photos of me. India has to be one of the most photographed countries in the world, so it shouldn’t be surprising that people get fed up with it. I would.

But it’s an easy place to like, and I’m not quite sure why. There is something indefinable about its energy and mood. The old British architecture is decaying in a wonderfully colourful way and it makes for a great backdrop to this city of millions. It is the principle education center of Eastern India and has produced some of the countries most famous academics. It hasn’t been as modernized as many of India’s major cities. For whatever reason, Kolkata is just an interesting place to be.

Despite my growing fondness of the city, I’ve been here for the best part of three weeks and haven’t yet found a story or subject that has grabbed my attention. Though the street photography has been great, I’ve decided to head north towards the border regions of Assam and Nagaland to see if I can get inspired.

These images are a selection from the past few weeks of wandering through the city on foot.

The residential side streets between New Market and Old Town.

Movie posters coat the walls in the east of Old Town.

Movie posters coat the walls in the east of Old Town.

 

A Muslim girl stands in the entranceway to a small community church. Kolkata is home to a diverse cultural and religious population.

A Muslim girl stands in the entranceway to a small community church. Kolkata is home to a diverse cultural and religious population.

Kolkata's government was communist until very recently and support for the party can be seen painted on many walls around the city.

Kolkata’s government was communist until very recently and support for the party can be seen painted on many walls around the city.

A Sadhu man, or Baba, smokes a cigarette in his small tent. Sadhus are traveling monks and hundreds of them arrive in Kolkata ahead of a religious festival.

A Sadhu man, or Baba, smokes a cigarette in his small tent. Sadhus are traveling monks and hundreds of them arrive in Kolkata ahead of a religious festival.

A semi-wild horse trims the grass near the Eden Gardens cricket ground. Kolkata has some of the biggest park areas of any city in India.

A semi-wild horse trims the grass near the Eden Gardens cricket ground. Kolkata has some of the biggest park areas of any city in India.

A man takes a break from his job shovelling coal.

A man takes a break from his job shovelling coal.

 

An electrical business closes every Sunday. Much of the city uses Sunday as a day of rest.

An electrical business closes every Sunday. Much of the city uses Sunday as a day of rest.

A food vendor fires his charcoal stove in the early evening ahead of the rush hour diners. Street food is ubiquitous in the city.

A food vendor fires his charcoal stove in the early evening ahead of the rush hour diners. Street food is ubiquitous in the city.

A batsmen approaches the wickets during an afternoon practice. These players are members of club teams and many aspire to play at the state or national level.

A batsmen approaches the wickets during an afternoon practice. These players are members of club teams and many aspire to play at the state or national level.

 

Police patrol the streets on New Years Eve, 2012. Kolkata has been rated the safest major city in India.

Police patrol the streets on New Years Eve, 2012. Kolkata has been rated the safest major city in India.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Blog, India Also tagged , , , , , , |