Looking Back: The Agony and Beauty of Calcutta

| December 15, 2009 | 3 Comments
calcutta Looking Back: The Agony and Beauty of Calcutta

Mullickghat flower market from the Hooghly Bridge

Calcutta (July 18, 2002) — In the day Calcutta is more flesh than city. Knotted and beating, all that is not flesh—iron, glass, and concrete—rises up from the ground and leans into the smoke and exhaust. The Ganges—here it is called the Hooghly—is wound inextricably through Calcutta like a pulmonary artery choked with plaque. Everywhere people and animals are spilled across roadways—like spears of rice to be threshed under the weight of the traffic—waiting through the dry months for the rains with upturned eyes. Just as when you observe the pictures so exactly described in Gray’s Anatomy you have the sensation in Calcutta of a profound mystery. It is, I thought, resting for a moment on a bridge that spans the holiest of rivers, something like watching a human organ at work with the skin pulled back under a theatre of lights. There isn’t a town of any size which does not contain some of the agony and beauty of Calcutta.


We’ve started a new category on our blog called ‘Looking Back’ that will include an occasional entry from our journals that date back to 2001 when we first began writing about living and travelling abroad. We’ll present these paired with a photo in the form of a verbal postcard. Together, these postcards provide an (in)formal and often (in)coherent narrative of the trips we’ve taken!


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Category: Looking Back

About the Author ()

For nearly ten years now, Daniel of Two Go Round-The-World has explored how travel captures our imagination and engages our deepest emotions. One half of the duo that maintains the widely read Two Go Round-The-World blog, Daniel treats his subjects not only as works of art but also as symbols of the cultural and political forces that inspire them. Check him out on Google+.

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  1. Gourmantic says:


    I love the contrasting colours! Though it is a frozen moment in time, I see movement in this photo.

  2. Simon Coleman says:


    For such a spiritual and beautiful country I am often so saddened by the poverty and the overcrowding. Oh it is painful to look at this picture without feeling so sad and pained for these beautiful people.

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