Today’s picture was taken in Calcutta, India in March 1992. I was staying in Sudder St, the backpacker area of this vibrant city. Sudder St is a bit of an institution as it’s one of those places that become a crossroads for travellers but it’s not to everyone’s taste as the standards of accommodation as are as run-down as the city itself. Even so, it’s a place that I’ve visited several times and really enjoy. Life is lived out on the streets as there’s little incentive to hang around in dark and dinghy hotel rooms. Instead, many travellers congregate at the street stalls selling food and drinks, where you can sit, chat and watch the world go by. They’re ideal for photographers like me. One one morning I was sitting outside a pavement stall eating curd and honey when I spotted this scene on the opposite side of the narrow street.
Whilst his washing dried on the line behind him against a wall covered with election posters for the Congress and Communist parties a man was taking a shower from a bucket on the pavement. As always, I had my camera with me, so I quickly grabbed a shot.
I’ve been back to Calcutta several times since, the last time in 2011 and it’d changed little in the intervening two decades. It was still as run-down and gloriously anarchic as ever, but I still think it’s one of my favourite Indian cities as it has a vibrancy and soul that makes it rather special. If you want to see more pictures from Calcutta over the years (including of their incredibly run-down tram network), follow this link. Calcutta (or Kolkata as it’s been renamed) holds a special title amongst Indian cities in that it retains two forms of transport you won’t find anywhere else on the sub-continent – trams and hand pulled rickshaws.
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