Exploring Calcutta, India (Now Kolkata)

Calcutta became a city known to the world due to the high-profile work of Mother Teresa. Her good deeds started when she saw opportunity where others did not. She started asking restaurants to save the leftover food that diners left on their plates. This food she distributed to the hungry rather than letting it go to waste.

The Roman Catholic Church saw this marketing opportunity, a new face for the church, and with their media blitz her charities grew to great proportions as donations poured in from around the world.

Today, Kolkata is still a city where middle-class citizens often need to step-over sidewalk dwellers as they make their way through this diverse demography. Even on the middle-class street where I had my homestay in a Colonial Mansion tucked into apartment complexes, outside a man living in a makeshift shack irons clothing for a pittance, haircuts are given street-side for 10 cents a cut ($4 for me, western hair being forty-times more difficult, I didn’t have one, was just curious what my price would be.). Chai served in disposable pottery mugs for 10 cents. Neighbours in cars honking at their gates for their security to let them in without delay, while around the corner some of the runners pulling richshaws are barefoot.

The variety of life going on within one block is hard to fathom. And despite the noise, the crowds, and the busyness of the streets, I found the people of Kolkata to be overall friendly and curious. It is quintessential India.20130304-100026.jpgInside my yellow taxi from the airport the driver had a colourful display of Hindu artefacts lit with flashing Christmas lights. (I suppose in this context I should say, flashing Hindu lights. Everything we see is so much through interpretation of our experience.)20130304-100511.jpgThese yellow taxis have been iconic of Kolkata for decades. They are still being made without modification from their original design.20130304-100927.jpgA commercial sidewalk kitchen. I guess there may be different standards for health and safety.20130304-101019.jpgEverywhere, road-side businesses add to the life and character of the streets.20130304-101203.jpgLooking up, there are many beautiful trees throughout most of the city.20130304-101303.jpgThis was gross. Live chickens on the sidewalk waiting to be freshly sold. So that they can’t run away, their legs have been snapped.20130304-101535.jpg20130304-101629.jpgThe beginnings of a wedding arch.20130304-101705.jpg20130304-101720.jpgThis was the only runner I saw wearing runners/sneakers. If they were not barefoot, they somehow ran with flip-flops.20130304-102000.jpgThere’s always something to step over. Don’t be texting while walking in India!20130304-102135.jpgClose-up of a cool building with a playful, descriptive name.20130304-102229.jpg20130304-102255.jpgSidewalk fishmongers20130304-102336.jpgAh, cute little sheeps.20130304-102453.jpg20130304-102509.jpgKolkata also has wires.20130304-102610.jpgThis is about $200 a month.20130304-102754.jpgI had to duck these wires, they were at neck level across the sidewalk. (In case you’re wondering, many young people are near my height, which is 6’1″.)20130304-102946.jpg20130304-103035.jpg20130304-103053.jpg20130304-103114.jpg20130304-103217.jpgMost of the buses looked like little miracles. (That they could possibly run.)20130304-103322.jpgThis bus is not new.20130304-103414.jpg20130304-103436.jpg20130304-103509.jpgThis sign made me laugh. For several minutes. They could post this on every corner and I figure it would be true. Why not save money by finding the one place to post, “This is not an accident prone zone. Have fun!” Of course they’d soon have to remove it.

20130304-104036.jpgAnother cool building, this one is a hotel.







20130304-105039.jpgSomeone forgot to wear his seatbelt(s).





20130304-105455.jpgAmazing modern scaffolding!







20130304-110631.jpgSomeone’s not wearing his seatbelt. This truck is driving in traffic, as were the others I took photos of.





20130304-111040.jpg3=$.06, 7=$.14, 14=$.28, 500=$10, 1000=$20, 1200=$24



20130304-111629.jpgGovernment Buildings.


20130304-111823.jpgI like that on each level the window surrounds are different.

20130304-111948.jpgThis original symbol, opposite of the swastika, has always represented God or temple.

20130304-112144.jpgThey’re just playing! (But it looks like the big dog is eating the little dog.)



20130304-112502.jpgSomeone’s not wearing their seatbelt(s), while in motion.





20130304-112946.jpgWashing dishes. Not quite clean enough to eat off though.



20130304-113223.jpgDull colours.









20130304-113908.jpgMetalworking, and a shave and a haircut.



20130304-114210.jpgKolkata was a buffet of activities to watch and had plenty of interesting sights. I think it should not be missed.

If you enjoy my blog, please share it with your friends! There are lots of other stories and photos here too including more on Kolkata. You can share the link by clicking on Facebook below, or just tell them they can follow http://www.PersonalTravelStories.com. Thanks for your support! Cheers! Darren

2 thoughts on “Exploring Calcutta, India (Now Kolkata)

  1. My husband and I are appreciating your photography and stories. Dave was born in India of missionary parents. Thank you for sharing! Keep safe. Naomi Wilton (friend of your MOM’s) P.S. I like your sentence: “Everything we see is so much thru’ interpretation of our experience.”

    • I’m so pleased you’re enjoying them! I’m having a lot of fun with this! I’ve now left India, but I am not done with it that’s for sure! Three month visa was not enough time! Best wishes, Darren

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