The Burra Bazaar in Calcutta is a veritable melody of visual delights for a photographer. I got out of my hotel at sunrise, gave the taxi driver a 100 bucks and asked him to take me around. He began our sojourn by heading in the direction of park street, Calcutta's high street, I instead made him to take me into the bazaar.
The place is Calcutta in its very essence, the ubiquitous elements of poverty, beggars, garbage strewn, small businesses jostling for space with street vendors, shops gaping onto the road, clueless traffic policemen, never ending crowds, the streets red with spit stains of chewed beetel leaves, naked urchins bathing at overflowing defunct taps, uncovered sewage along tiny pathways. It is impossible to walk peacefully without being nudged and tugged and getting shouted out of your path. The sight of man pulling man on hand-pulled rickshaws is not only a gross regression, but a loaded irony in a communist ruled state.
..and yet, the place is an absolute beauty to see, and photograph. Life goes on here oblivious to its retrograde status, millionaires are born out of this mess, wedding bells ring amidst the chaos, hundreds of tiny temples are strewn alongside muslim shops, goats and dogs play hide and seek behind giant wheels of cargo trucks, arguments are interspersed with loud conversations and laughter...... the noise is deafining, and the view defining for many of us.
I shot these fakirs outside the Bada masjid, Calcutta's biggest mosque on Zakaria Street.