In the midst of weekday rush-hour bustle, this bar patiently awaits its patrons. Inviting as it may seem, few have the time to enter. It’s moment of glory comes in the evening when people swarm the place - the same place they neglected during the day. It’s amusing how we don’t relax when weary. Relaxation is reserved only for leisure.

In the midst of weekday rush-hour bustle, this bar patiently awaits its patrons. Inviting as it may seem, few have the time to enter. It’s moment of glory comes in the evening when people swarm the place - the same place they neglected during the day. It’s amusing how we don’t relax when weary. Relaxation is reserved only for leisure.

Art Forms in Nature, Karl Blossfeldt,
The Harrington Street Arts Centre, Calcutta

Inside the tram
Calcutta, 2014

The government is downplaying it ahead of Xi Jinping’s visit, but Chinese incursion in Ladakh is real. It’s been two years since we wrote this, but it seems little has changed.

Broadway Hotel, Chandni Chowk, Calcutta

Hatibagan, Calcutta, 2014

What goes on in old buildings
Calcutta, 2014

Leaving Calcutta

The streets of Bhowanipore that we’ve become so familiar with over the last three months seem different today. Maybe we just see them differently on the eve of our departure. The shopkeepers are early; the shops are getting ready for the Puja. Frenzied whitewashes, frantic renovations; continuous drilling, hammering and sawing. Much hustle-bustle all round.

Every morning, the storekeepers wash the pavement outside their stores, some perform pujas inside their stores. Others dutifully take off their footwear and say a prayer in front of the little temple on the pavement. A priest comes in the morning, washes the idols, performs a quick puja, blesses the gathering, collects money, lights a few incense sticks and after ringing the bell a few quick times, leaves hurriedly, perhaps to the next temple.

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Going to the metro, we have the cigarette shops first, followed by the bookstores. Then a few stationers and a long line of jewellers. A couple of phone repairing shops, and then the vegetable sellers. The next lot is occupied by the fish sellers in the morning who on their way out in the afternoon wash the place clean, trying to drive out the stench from the pavements. The food vendors then come in and sit there, with their boiling kadhais of oil in which float helpless pieces of fritters that soon transform into monstrous pieces of deep fries.

Coming out of the metro we have the eateries first, their patrons crowding the pavement; then come the small fruit sellers whose arrangement is punctuated by a few flower sellers. Then come the cloth stores and the bag sellers. There’s this handsome shopkeeper who helps his young employees set up the inflated lower halves of rubber human dummies. The teenage employees mischievously caress the pelvic region of these dummies when he’s not looking. The tea sellers, more stationers and fruit sellers come next. This is where we cross the street.

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Some days we buy a guava, an apple, or a banana to eat on the way. Not today. We are leaving. Bhowanipore and its crowd will be missed.

We swear these guys are better than in the video.

Perhaps women’s empowerment is not taking out morchas on the Janpath, perhaps it’s sitting beside the driver in a shared autorickshaw. Perhaps women’s empowerment is not having Pink Coaches in the metro, perhaps it’s undertaking a bumpy ride jostling with sweaty males. Perhaps women’s empowerment is not dressing up for discos, perhaps it’s sitting in a men’s bar smoking and drinking as if no one’s watching you. Perhaps women’s empowerment is not instagramming sitting in cool cafes, perhaps it’s sweating it out at the vegetable markets. Perhaps women’s empowerment is not Delhi, perhaps it’s Calcutta.

Perhaps women’s empowerment is not taking out morchas on the Janpath, perhaps it’s sitting beside the driver in a shared autorickshaw. Perhaps women’s empowerment is not having Pink Coaches in the metro, perhaps it’s undertaking a bumpy ride jostling with sweaty males. Perhaps women’s empowerment is not dressing up for discos, perhaps it’s sitting in a men’s bar smoking and drinking as if no one’s watching you. Perhaps women’s empowerment is not instagramming sitting in cool cafes, perhaps it’s sweating it out at the vegetable markets. Perhaps women’s empowerment is not Delhi, perhaps it’s Calcutta.

The lakes at night.
Calcutta, 2014

'Aap ice lenge?'

'Nahin, rahne deejiye.'

'Achha ice hai, hum ghar pe banaate hain. Baaki jagahon jaisa nahin… koi koi to morgue se bhi laate hain. Doon ice?'

Tr.

'Will you have ice?'

'No, thanks!'

'It's hygienic. we make it at home. Not like elsewhere… some even get it from the morgue. Will you have some?'

Eventually, even nine lives come to an end.

Eventually, even nine lives come to an end.