Kolkata, the City that Never Sleeps
As we are coming up to the end of 2018, I thought we could look back at the year – a retrospective view of a year in the life of The Dorset Rambler 🙂 ! I will be putting up a post each day, picking out some of the highlights of the year.
In fact, we are actually slipping ever so slightly into 2017 because we took a trip to Kolkata and Bangkok which spanned last Christmas and the New Year. We very rarely go abroad, in fact we hadn’t flown for many years, but our daughter is currently in Kolkata and we wanted to go out to spend the festive season with her. These are just a few out of the 2,000+ images that I took on that trip.
The picture at the top of this post is definitely not my usual style, in fact it was really outside my comfort zone and I have wrestled long and hard over whether I should post it at all – after all, they are not just playing draughts are they! But it is a slice of real life, part of the gritty reality of city life, albeit not a nice ‘slice of life’. Unbelievably, the guy looked straight at me as I took the picture and he didn’t seem the slightest bit bothered by my presence.
It is undoubtedly the people that make this city so special……and I really mean special! It left a surprising impact on both myself and my wife, contrary to all our expectations. The two ladies above were selling produce in the Mullick Ghat Flower Market and were two happy souls. In fact everyone in the city seemed happy – at the market, with the exception of one or two, everyone I approached was perfectly happy to have their picture taken so I had a great time there.
One of the issues with Kolkata, apart from the oppressive heat, is pollution and there is never a pure sunset – even in winter, the atmosphere is heavy. It is an amazingly busy, noisy, crowded and vibrant city but even in the midst of the hustle and bustle, there are pockets of quiet, such as the park above, which as you can see, we visited at sunset.
The traffic is crazy! Horns constantly blowing, jams everywhere, drivers squeezing their vehicles into the tiniest of gaps with millimetres to spare, and yet we saw few accidents. I think it was because everyone is alert and aware that traffic can come from anywhere at any time without warning.
The picture above was taken on the outskirts of the city so is not really a good example of the city centre but it does illustrate the variety of road users……including cows! Rickshaws are everywhere, some motorised, some cycle rickshaws, and some pulled by a runner. These are of course a relic of colonial days.
Yellow taxis are everywhere too, the equivalent of the black London taxi I guess. We used many forms of transport while we were there, yellow taxis, Uber cabs, buses (often segregated men on one side and women on the other), trains, auto rickshaws (my favourite form of transport), but we did not want to be pulled manually by another human being so we avoided the pedal and pulled rickshaws which can be seen as degrading.
One other oasis in this bustling city, and a fantastic place for strange photographers like me, is Park Street Cemetery. There were so many ageing and ornate tombs there and I could have spent hours just wandering around with my camera.
I am very much a countryman and like nothing better than spending as much time as possible walking or cycling in the rolling Dorset countryside, climbing mountains and hills, walking ridges with amazing views, following our wonderful coast and beaches, being in the fresh, clean air, watching beautiful sunsets and sunrises, sleeping under the stars; Kolkata really goes against everything I love, and yet, despite this, it really captivated me. It is a vibrant, gritty, colourful, working city with a culture and atmosphere, not to mention people, that left a big impression on me and I can’t wait to go back for more.
We visited many places, far too many to include all of them here. This is just a snapshot memory of Kolkata but if you would like to know more about our visit to the City of Joy, there are links to my earlier posts below.
Tomorrow, we will revisit Bangkok – what a difference!
Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler
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