INDIA (2010): KOLKATA
At the end of the monsoon Kolkata looked greener than Mumbai from the air. Situated to the east in the state of Bengal, it is the intellectual and artistic capital of India. As soon as I arrived it all felt familiar, the language, the food, the music, after my Fulbright year in Bangladesh two years ago. It was the start of the Hindu festival of Durga Puja, the most important celebration for Bengalis, that honors the goddess Durga. Millions of people parade in the streets with hundreds and thousands of life size statues, who will end up immersed in the sacred river. The preparations beforehand include a shopping frenzy, with everybody buying new saris and stocking up on sweets. I'd already experienced this festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh, but here 90% of the people are Hindu, not Muslim, and the intensity is much greater. In order to escape, every morning at 5 am I left my hotel, careful to walk around the rows of people sleeping on the sidewalks. I took a yellow taxi to the riverbank, near the Howrah Bridge where men were washing and praying. My bliss was going out with one lens, one camera and an umbrella.