Kokata is known as “The City Of Joy”. Despite the hard life conditions of many of its inhabitants and the hard scenes that the street can display, there’s a real sense of joyful energy in this city, something one cannot find in New Delhi or Mumbai. Kolkata is still a genuine indian city, offering a true experience for the ones who dare exploring it!
The wet market always has a strong impact on my senses. The smell of meat is intense, crows are flying everywhere, and while chickens and goats are killed, the blood flows down the drains in a complete medieval fashion.
Outside of the New Market, streets are bursting with life since the early morning.
While sugar canes are pressed to extract the juice,. crumbling old colonial buildings offer a picturesque background.
Some sellers are specialized in one item: the “gobhi wallah” is only selling cauliflowers, for about 15 rupees a kilo.
Indian streets are home to many, and here it’s normal to have a shower in public, getting water from the hand pump.
Kids always add a touch of colour to the streets, and their smiles and voices are a big part of that “Joyful” feeling…
Near the dump the smell gets very intense. People, crows and pigs gravitate around this place to either work or get some food, papers and other items out of the rubbish.
The streets of a big Indian city might seem dirty to many westerners, but there’s a very efficient recycling system going on here. Sometimes, this can be the only source of income for the poorest.
Transports are a big deal in India. The amount of vehicles carrying good at every hour of the day is amazing. From big Tata trucks to human beings carrying baskets on top of their heads,l there’s always something going on here…
Even typing letters for others can be a real job: it’s very common to see rows of tables with people typing on old Remingtons, while the customers are waiting for the message to be completed.
I met this guy in Bangkok (15 millions people) one night at a small street restaurant. He and his wife, both from Kolkata, were visiting Thailand on a short holiday. We spent a good evening speaking Hindi about food, life, politics and spiritual matters. Yesterday morning, while walking around New Market area in Kolkata taking pictures of old record stores, i hear a voice saying “Hey, hello, helloo !”: i don’t bother looking, as a foreigner you get so many people calling you from the shops that you kinda get desensitized to it. But when someone touched my shoulder and i could see who it was i was shocked! How could i meet this guy again? In a city with 14 millions of people? And he doesn’t even live in that area…! So we had chai together, he phoned his wife for me to say hello and swapped cards so we can get around the city together sometimes
Kolkata is also the city of Arts, and music is big here. Vinyls are still for sale on the streets of the city; from old Indian classics to Kraftwerk, one can really spend hours looking for some hidden gem…!
At the end of my morning walk, quite hungry and exhausted, i had a proper local meal at one of my favourite places, khalsa restaurant. Restaurants with this name are usually run by Punjabi owners who serve authentic north western indian food. You can always recognize these places, who are renowned for being some of the best food options amongst the locals, from the images of the Gurus on the walls.
A tandoori oven is the heart of the kitchen, and beside an array of different breads, veg and non veg items can be had. I went for a classic simple combination as tandoori roti and Dhal fried, wheat flours flat breads cooked in a clay oven to be dipped in a rich lentil soup, which has been sauteed in a pan with garlic, chillies, cumin and fennel seeds.