I remember that life. People still had time for a small chat session in the morning on the way to the vegetable market. A few minutes of ‘adda’ rejuvenated the mind. It was the time to meet your neighbours, get updated on the political events, have a discussion on the previous afternoon’s matches of the Calcutta football league.
Life and time appeared to move slowly in those days in the narrow lanes and by-lanes of north Calcutta. I attempt to present in this line and wash drawing a vignette from my mind.
Drawn with Uni-ball Click Gel pen and Camlin water colours.
The streets begin to get waterlogged. For the rickshaw-puller it is a more difficult grind. He ponders if it will be right to charge a few rupees extra for a ride. But life doesn’t come to a standstill. The housewife still needs to do her shopping. The birds, perched on the electrical cables, seem to enjoy the drizzle. The city lanes wear a deserted look.
The narrow lanes are everywhere in Kolkata (Calcutta). They are the mark of an old city. But they also signal an absence of forethought or planning. Here people build houses, one after the other, and appear to feel the need of access to their houses only as an afterthought. Seldom will you come across such a dense living!
The narrow lanes become narrower still with people using the alleys for every need. The morning vegetable-sellers make a living out of them. For the lazy residents, who avoid the trouble of going to the local market, that’s a blessing. However, it is inconvenient for most others, especially those who drive vehicles. Kolkata’s pedestrians, though, have long learnt the tricky skill of negotiating ses ruelles obscures!
Here’s a line and wash sketch of such an alley — as it wakes up in the morning.
And here’s another. A man carrying loads on his head, the vegetable peddlers and their customers, men wearing the dhoti tightly wrapped around the loin and above their knees. Wearing the dhoti in this manner makes it convenient for movement. I have even seen villagers taking part in running contests wearing the dhoti like that. Is it the Indian version of the short pant? The kind of low tension electricity distribution box that you no longer see in this city. Three girls taking a stroll, a wooden cot meant to take a corpse to the crematorium. Life goes on….
is a professional translator and a fledgling, completely self-taught line-and-wash enthusiast.
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