Kolkata Street

Kolkata, it boiled me with its cacophony. Opening my eyes and providing me much to see.

An overwhelmingly, acute, sensory overload, teeming with major paradoxical details.
​ From the undeniably impressive, contemporary hotels, to the crumbling colonial architectural facades.
The physical structure of the city’s mazed streets, allowing your loss into oppulent luxury.
The Victoria Memorial dazzling with light shows, whilst opposite, the plastic sheeting creates families homes.
Simultaneously fixating and crazy confusing.
Difference in desire between the pearl white, roaring mercedes, and haphazard painting of the multi-coloured ‘yellow’ taxi. Sharing roads with the saree ladies, cows, the businessmen, the scooters and population in droves.
Bursting with noise, and passion, but not patience, the gesticulating drivers shouting obscenities; at the shoe-less orphans running wildly across busy lanes.
An outsider – the camel – through the eye of a needle, as you say, impossible, well we say you’re wrong! You carve out a small channel for the water to stream through and the train to pass by as it stops or continues. Sheru, they shout, be brave and forgiving, breath in the scent of this city’s wild heart beating.

By: Jeny Nevard

Insta: @mywildwanderings

Being “different” is a crime

At times when sitting isolated is bliss and doing nothing, is not boring.  Feeling the chaos of the nature, is not an option but a passion –  all these are not weird but peaceful.  And right at that point of time, the watchman of the park ask you to leave and call your camera, ‘a shit device’.  I gathered my belongings and self respect and walked towards the exit. But when I looked back, I saw the watchman running towards me, looking terrified, behind him, there was a group of the least harmful people of the society – the transsexuals. 

I smiled at them, thinking that they did the work on behalf of Karma. They smiled back, thinking that I am one of those nice people, who don’t judge them. I wasn’t judging them, but that doesn’t make me nice.  

One’s sexuality is out of his control.  One may not control it, but they always have a choice. And that choice make their lives. It was their choice to be different. It was their choice to endearment the tint of womanhood, they had in them. But ‘society’ can’t accept the ‘different’,it is boring and they want’ normal’ candidates. Hence, since then the ‘different’ suffer.  

Then ladies were very glad to see my camera. They asked whether I was a photographer. Did not even wait for me to reply and demanded, ‘can you click out picture, we hardly have any?’. The emotions I had at the moment, glitch up. After two three shots, I thought this is going to end. I somehow wanted to leave. One of them spoke up, ‘Thank you so much, no photographer would click us, we ain’t that pretty’.  The other continued, ‘but we are international bhikharis (beggars)!’ 

Pc: Mandira Paul

I started aching inside. I felt guilty. The smile on their faces were enough. They are beautiful inside. They put loud make up, wear heavy ornaments, shimmering outfits- all these to celebrate the woman they are. 
They are generous enough to offer me food and drink. But it was time for me to leave. 
The moment captured in my camera. The faces stuck in my mind. They ain’t different, don’t treat them like one. They are human like us. Rise above those judgment. Rise for humanity. 

Mandira Paul

Insta Id: @the_mandira_paul

oh Calcutta !!

Oh Calcutta! Not just merely a name for one of the restaurants here that most of us might know, but also abbreviates the veins of a blend consisting both tradition and modern culture running through the streets of the city pretty elaborately. Pillars of the old monuments scream the perpetual paint brush full of the culture it all started from, whence its on-takers now wake up only to find his niche in life.
Yes, truly like any other city, the folks hardly have time to sneak into the timeline of even the person just beside him but what exactly is rooted into their minds could be realized when you dissolve yourself in the little cracks in between. One fine example, stared at, from the window of an old city bus I was on, is where people still choose to encourage the very old, still pulling rickshaws in the scorching heat; on the other hand they also don’t bother couples kissing in quite a public space.

Pc: @rajdeepsatta

To have a profounding apprehension of their mentality, the population here can be divided into two categories- the youths and the elderlies. The elderlies- That portion of the citizenry, concerned a way higher for political atmosphere and governance of the state; whose day ends purchasing eatables, the members of his family would like. Baffled by also the humid climate and daily battle of making one’s way to where he wants to reach, makes this part of the population a man of a few words. Probably it is the way the environment has enlightened them to survive. From the back of their minds, that any outsider could embrace is a layer of mild anger and frustration residing within them; most probable reasons of which that glows out of their faces is some kind of reluctance and forceable acceptance of innumerable criterion.

Pc: @rajdeepsatta

Its not only the exasperation that the inhabitants behold, but are also seen with an old translucent crown of fine pride fitted onto their head. This pride perhaps, if turned the pages of history back, is because of a number of credible reasons which includes being the only city with tramways, the first ones to introduce metro railways and of course for being one among those, the language for which has been scripted in gold. Barely remembered, is also a land with its roots pierced deep into days as rusty as the very active British Empire or the advent of the French waves that adds to that crown of pride aforesaid. Food habits-not by far, yet believed to contribute to that degree of restlessness. Despite the climate conditions that hardly enables one to consume oily and spicy food except for the cold and rainy days, the general folks still stick to their rich and authentic style of ancestral cuisine. This richness in food is then believed to accelerate the catabolism to such an extent that it even touches and modifies the inner walls of their tranquility and patience.

The link: Little do the elderlies bother about what their lineage is engrossed into; and when it comes to matters of love, they bother the least. Except for a countable list of families, the rest is seen to be very broad-hearted towards love as well as inter-caste marriages. Deep sighs that daily flows out of the faces of these elderlies have huge content of reluctant conviction and submission in front of utter rigidity and probably wisdom with a very modern touch that the youth show. This understanding then leads to the birth of a fine line of criticism and grudge followed by their frustration towards the world outside. The countable most modern families are seen to be so heuristic that they hardly express issues with a live-in relationship or even pre-marital sex. Amazingly, the group of elderlies who got warmly transferred from a classical tradition to the most modern one, often are found having an audience with their succeeding generation on young sex life and affairs; sometimes more than just one. They know that the fission of a much practical feeling, the youths started can’t be prevented, so they would only try to alleviate it.

Rajdeep Satta

Insta: @rajdeepsatta

People like him is hard to find.

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Well, since the prompt is Summer Siesta, let me present a very familiar picture from the Streets of Calcutta! ~ I used to see him everyday at Girish Park, chirping around, cracking jokes at his “Colleagues”, in-spite of the killing heat in this part of the country. Yes, he was full of life…full of spirit…brimming with the zest to survive. Yes, he was a one who returned my 100 rupee note that I had mistakenly left behind in his tana rickshaw; he could have easily shrugged his responsibility on a dizzy summer afternoon. Yet, he decided to make it happen. Humans of Calcutta as they say, privileged enough to have met him in person.

By: Sammya Brata

A city which unites !

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Pc: Jeet Sen Gupta

A Chinese and an Indian enjoying the summer evening in front of an old Chinese tailoring shop. At times I wonder why people fight over caste, creed and religion. The thought leaves me disturbed and baffled. Then I take a walk around this city and realize its just a myth. Yes! Just a myth. I see wonderful people around from various places, with different religion, different languages, different caste and creed living in harmony. It makes me feel alive and my disturbed mind finds peace. Kolkata indeed is a city of joy. This place has given shelter to people from all over the world. All I can say is some lines from the song ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon… “Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do Nothing to kill or die for and no religion too Imagine all the people Living life in peace… You may say I’m a dreamer But I’m not the only one I hope someday you’ll join us And the world will be as one.”

By: Jeet Sen Gupta

It’s not about the money, its about devotion, passion and dedication.

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Pc: Jeet Sen Gupta

Unlike many of us who pays visit to those expensive and posh salon, there are people out there who still likes to sit by the street while they get groomed by the barber. On asking the old barber about his job he responded by saying ” I have groomed people on the street since last 31 years. I feel happy and blessed to do this work.” The guy who is getting shaved his beard told ” I am a bookstall worker here in college street and I always prefer street barber rather than walking into those expensive salons. Its not about money always. Sometimes its about the devotion, passion and dedication. I have seen a hell lot of dedication and passion among these street barbers.” I feel barbers are artist. Some have their own studio to perform and some perform on the streets.

By: Jeet Sen Gupta

” Brothers in Arms “

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Pc: Jeet Sengupta

Quite tired after walking down the streets from Barabazaar to Shovabazaar my eye fell on these two kids playing in an alley of North Kolkata. As they say Bollywood and Cricket are the two things which keep  Indians alive! I did get a taste of that today. Soon I wanted their company so as to keep myself alive from this scorching heat and tiredness. On introducing each other we started the game. The two brothers, younger one ‘Sunil’ and the elder one ‘Anil’. Though in a funnier way I called them Gavaskar and Kumble. Quite happy and excited they were hearing the names I gave them. I really had some good cricket and entertainment with these two brothers. It reminded me of my childhood and quite a nostalgic moment I had. I am quite bad at cricket and lost the match with these two kids. But what matter most was their win, their happiness for defeating me. The purest kind of happiness and joy was all over their face which made my whole day. I forgot my tiredness, the scorching heat and what not. As promised I handed some chocolates to them and left the place thinking about my childhood memories. They were happy so was I! These streets taught me so much which any book could have done to me.

By: Jeet Sengupta

Hey YOU? Are you reading this?

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PC : Nidhi

Listen, my children of tomorrow. This is how you bring progress to our country. By coming out in the thousands (more than 5000 or so, in this context) and creating inconvenience for people who are trying to do something actually productive for our country. By actively participating in creating traffic jams just so you can be ‘heard’. By being leaders that condone unreasonable sheep behavior. This is exactly how you get votes.

Today, I not only lost the (hard-earned) 1000 bucks I spent on my film tickets and an hour and a half (and more) of my time, but also the leftover respect I had for my city.
I have now been told that I am the fool that decided to come out in Kolkata during elections and I am starting to believe it (because only fools seem to have high expectations from this city).

Note – (I have nothing against TMC. So please don’t sue me for this. I would have posted a picture no matter what the party would have been.)

By: Nidhi Iyer

Why was Kolkata given the nickname “City of Joy”?

At the heart of every city, are its people. But what about their city do the people love? What are the things that give them true happiness, warmth, and memories, which they carry with them through every moment of their lives? Is it always the grand architecture, the rich history, the vibrant culture? Or is it the little things? That boat ride with a lover, the tingling taste of their favourite sweet, that rush of emotion when they open an old wardrobe? Or is it a bit of both?

There’s a slum, namely Pilkhana in the Howrah region (Kolkata, West Bengal)
where people despite facing the most wretched of circumstances look at the brighter side of life and feel that it’s worth living.
They had named their slum “आनन्द नगर

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This city is not modern as Delhi, not proper like Mumbai. But it has the quiet grandeur that warms everyone who is willing to find comfort. You will find everything here. The congestion and comfort of the streets of North Kolkata where everyone are known to you and will come to your help anytime.The rich people of the south with the modern outlooks. The silence of the ghats and the noise of the local train. The peace of the afternoon slumber. Kolkata has everything to offer.

the only way to understand what Kolkata is about, is to recognize that the city is essentially Bengali. What’s more, no Bengali minds you saying that. Rather, they are proud of the fact.

I learnt here that if life is about more than just money, it is about the things that other cities ignore; about culture, about ideas, about art, and about passion.

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Spend two weeks during the Durga Puja here. Make sure you spend as much time outside as you possibly can. Get stuck in traffic on purpose. Go to the most crowded places you can find. You will get your answer but to understand Puja, you must understand Kolkata. And to understand Kolkata , you must understand the Bengali. It’s not easy. Certainly, you can’t do it till you come and live here, But once you have, You’ll love Kolkata forever. Wherever you go,a bit of Kolkata will go with you. I know, because it’s happened to me. And every Puja, I am overcome by the magic of Bengal. It’s a feeling that’ll never go away…

PS: There’s a novel “The City of Joy” written by Dominique Lapierre and first published in 1985. The plot in the book revolves around true events that had taken place in Pilkhana and includes the mention of “saints such as Mother Teresa, saints such as Stephen Kovalski, an unknown Polish Catholic priest who made his home there to care for the poorest of the poor. 🙂

By: Tanzil Alam

THE SHOE HE NEVER BOUGHT

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His gaze was fixed at the dying dog. The poor creature was writhing in pain. Oblivious to the dog’s suffering, the people around him were busy discussing the upcoming elections. “Lal salaam dewar jonno aar ektu wait kortei hobe,” said the old man who looked like a living caricature because of his pointy ears and hooked nose. Others agreed with him. “Sheta toh theek bolechen dada. Kintu aei election ta didi’r jonnoeasy hobe na,” the fat lady added, before walking towards the bus that had just arrived.

One by one, they all got into the bus. The ancient vehicle was overflowing with people, limbs dangling dangerously out of the doors and windows. The smell of sweat threatened to suffocate people to death. But the brave Kolkatans rode on to their destinations.

He had forgotten about the dying dog as soon as he got onto the bus. The journey to his office would be long and he was feeling uneasy since morning. So the immediate concern was to get a seat for himself.  Had it not been for his ten-year-old daughter, he wouldn’t have even left home that day. Though her birthday was due next week, he decided to manage an early present by replacing her worn-out school shoes. The little doll’s embarrassment broke his heart every time he watched her hide the whites of her socks by curling her toes inside her shoes. Fortunately for him, the old shoe store near his office was closing down. Hence, the store-owners were offering great discounts. So he had to get those shoes before the stock ran out. He pictured his daughter dancing around in her little shoes and that made him smile. If the little joys of life demanded efforts, so be it.

His eyes scanned the bus and rested dejectedly. Again. No empty seats. He slightly cursed his luck and turned his face towards the driver. Unable to see the road ahead due to the sea of heads around him, he rested his head on his left arm. From where he stood, he could see an old couple watching a video on a cellphone. The wrinkled fingers of the old lady held on to the phone as if it were dear life. The smile on her face so innocent. The wonder on the old man’s face so bewitching. And he pondered, would he ever be able to afford such contentment? Would his marriage survive the current troubles? Hell. Would he even live long enough to be so old and frail? The questions could never be answered by mere mortals. The uncertainty of life had always amazed him for it had the power to both provide and steal.  It was just a matter of who and when.

The bus stopped. Passengers got off, passengers got in. Life functioned in a similar way, he thought to himself. Everyday people across the globe were ‘getting off’ this world. New members were being added. Everybody was inching closer towards their destination. He looked at the kid in school uniform who had just hopped on to the bus along with his mother. Pushing through the throngs of people, the woman dashed for the ladies seat and made her son sit there. All the comforts in the world were for her son. She could manage the entire journey without having a place for herself.

He had just raised his hand to check the time on his watch when he felt the sky collapse on him. He felt a heavy weight crushing him. The college student standing next to him had also collapsed. Her head was bent in an awkward manner. Confusion and terror etched all over her face. He was falling short of breath himself. He could hear people screaming around him. He could smell blood. He could feel a thick liquid pouring down his face. A sharp metal object was piercing his back, just above his waist, but he couldn’t do anything. He couldn’t understand what had happened. He couldn’t move his head to look for answers. All he could manage was a cursory glance towards the twisted window pane. And he could see swirls of dust rising skyward. More shrieks of terror, more pain, smell of blood. His head was spinning fast now. He was choking. He knew his time had come. A cellphone was ringing at a distance. He could hear faint strains of gayatri mantra. His eyelids gave up after a few seconds. The image of the dying dog floated back into his mind. He thought of God, his family, his daughter and more. With every single image, he felt himself being drifted away. He pictured his daughter dancing in the new shoes and couldn’t see anything else after that. A second later, he breathed his last.

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After the debris has settled,

think of what we lost..

Shoes, people or stories

or everything that could be

Blame each other later

mourn now, pledge now

to all those you wronged

Never let this happen again

Let no daughter be without her new shoes

PS: This is purely a work of fiction.

By: Kainat Sarfaraz

Putting Joy All Together