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Panchanantala Slum in Kolkata

I was walking around in Calcutta and got lost (yes, I’m usually doing this on purpose). I came along the AMRI Hospital which burned down just a few days before, leaving 91 dead. Just a day before I was talking with Christian Nocon this and about the people from the slum nearby who were the first people to help, and who saved a lot of lives. Talk about synchronicity…

 

Also by accident, I stumbled across that exact slum, which goes by the name “Panchanantala Slum”. At first I hesitated to enter, so I just sat at the place where a lot of people were crossing the train lines. But after a while, and some friendly chats (as much as you can “chat” with people who barely speak English), I decided to walk in and take my camera out. And of course, the photo printer I carry with me.

 

It turned out to be one of the nicest, quitest, cleanest and friendliest places I’ve seen in Calcutta so far. I had a lot of fun with the people and especially the kids. So much fun indeed, that I returned 2 days later and stayed for about 3 hours to make photos and hand out some prints to the people.

 

At times I generated a lot more attention for myself than I usually like, as everybody wanted to have his photo taken and, of course, a print. Sometimes I nearly caused a riot as people were trying to get my attention. For the most part, though, it was a lot of fun and the people were very welcoming and friendly.

 

I heard before that slums in India are nice and friendly places, but I always found that hard to believe. Now I know, that at least this slum is a very good place to live, much better than many other “nonslums” in Calcutta. Imagine that!

 

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Taken on December 23, 2011