Streets of Kolkata, A Journey Through Photographs.
Milan Kundera wrote about Prague”Its like a poem written on a piece of burning paper, fast disappearing”.( I quote from a fickle memory). 25 years ago Rajiv Gandhi called Kolkata a dying city creating great controversy.Dominique Lapierre romanticized it as a City of Joy.
Kolkata is my birthplace and I grew up there.It’s a city I keep returning to, always with mixed feelings.I mostly feel pain at how it’s not kept pace, how the signs of decay trump the signs of rejuvenation, and how politicians have been so small as to make it a pawn in their petty games .The following pictures were taken on a recent trip to Kolkata.I looked hard at the pictures, they were mine after all and captured my own city.The captions which I ended up writing reflect my dismay,not cynicism.
Once upon a time in a magic faraway land..
The bus I used to take.
And the bus that I missed.The 18 looks like a couch potato bhadralok..or couch roshogolla..
This guy has eaten too many Roshogollas..Mamatadi approves! Poriborton, what poriborton..are you a Maoist?
How public money is spent to add colour to our grim surroundings.
Surya Sen, the revolutionary freedom fighter and a free citizen of India..only she does not look free .
Eyeballing ..in Kolkata they are all called Dada(brother!).
Most Auto rickshaws are driven by Dada’s..meaning both brother and goon.The foot soldiers of our fragile democracy.
Kolkata Police patrolling a posh neighbourhood.
The state of the Sovereign Socialist Democratic Republic, refreshed everyday.
Boy monkey meets girl monkey.They dance to a Bollywood tune.They get paid.Everyone is happy.
A serious musical instrument, a stick, a toy, a livelihood .
The Bengal Club.Gora sahibs have been replaced by brown ones.The Chinese food in there is fabulous, I am told.
An occupation, a caste, a class divide. A livelihood?Hardly.
He is happy to be photographed.A moment later he was sulking that I did not pay him.
Kolkata has the sweetest tooth in the world.
But no sir, count me out..I am not hungry anymore.
Tea I can have, if you have one of those earthen cups.
Not everybody sips Darjeeling tea at Flury’s. A good old tea shop.
This is trick photography.Food is never left unguarded like this.
The more things change the more they remain the same.
Water water everywhere ..but only mineral water to drink for some.
Is there hope?
Maybe, our trusted old florist.
A Kolkata institution, Olypub where whiskey is poured just a little more generously and Kusum Rolls next door, where pimps walk up to you and ask’”Kuch Chahiye saab?”
On Park Street you can drown your sorrows in many colourful ways. Rajani Gandha “Musical” is a proud new addition.
Papa has a helmet..he will save my life! The cops can’t book him, and they can’t book me either.Lose lose situation!
Park Hotel, Kwality restaurant and Oxford bookstore..the goods things of life are not that well spread out, after all.
My old haunt ..an oasis of air-conditioning and books.
The quintessential babu..perpetually confused by an unchanging world.
Closed for now, Open to Interpretation.
Kit:Nikon D600, Nikkor 50mm 1.8G,Apple Aperture
Categories: Photography, Politics, Travel