To me Calcutta is the place I go to eat, shop and meet up with friends. The camera stays neglected in my bag, which is a shame, considering the fascinating locations just around the corner.
So I dusted my camera out its bag and accompanied a school friend and keen photographer to a photo-shoot in and around the streets of North Calcutta specifically Chitpur and Bagbazar. It was a typical winter morning cold and misty and it was interesting to document the scenes of a city waking up from its slumber.
The lanes and by-lanes reminded me of Varanasi but somewhat cleaner and considerably less chaotic. The peeling paint, political slogans and the ubiquitous tea shops created a picture of an old forgotten world where things have not changed much over the centuries. The stray mongrels and muffler clad people moved in a world of mist and smoke from the clay unons (ovens).
By the time it was eight am, the light was decidedly better and the roads were bustling with rickshaws, vendors and people off to work. Just before leaving Chitpur we decided to check out just one more lane and hit the jackpot. The small workshops down a narrow alleyway were crammed with karais or woks in various stages of production. There were men with huge hammers beating the woks into shape; wielding welding torches and smoothing surfaces and edges and putting the final touches to these gigantic cooking pots.
Bagbazar, the citadel of old Bengali aristocracy, cleaner and with wider roads, had remnants of the old buildings now in ruins, speaking of a greater past. After some hing (asafoetida) kachoris and jilipis (jalebis) in front of Girish Mancha, we decided to call it a day.