The Narrow Lanes of Kolkata
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….