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.Inside 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.)These yellow taxis have been iconic of Kolkata for decades. They are still being made without modification from their original design.A commercial sidewalk kitchen. I guess there may be different standards for health and safety.Everywhere, road-side businesses add to the life and character of the streets.Looking up, there are many beautiful trees throughout most of the city.This was gross. Live chickens on the sidewalk waiting to be freshly sold. So that they can’t run away, their legs have been snapped.The beginnings of a wedding arch.This was the only runner I saw wearing runners/sneakers. If they were not barefoot, they somehow ran with flip-flops.There’s always something to step over. Don’t be texting while walking in India!Close-up of a cool building with a playful, descriptive name.Sidewalk fishmongersAh, cute little sheeps.Kolkata also has wires.This is about $200 a month.I 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″.)Most of the buses looked like little miracles. (That they could possibly run.)This bus is not new.This 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.
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