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nbhattacharjya nbhattacharjya

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Nilanjana  In Arizona most of the time. I write on music and film and teach at ASU. I take pictures on the sly.

The house across from us.

Earlier today I was walking to a friend's when I was startled by a blinding flash of light and a deafening clap of thunder. It hadn't started raining yet, and I wondered if I would make it around the corner before the sky opened. I arrived just in time with my only my face dripping-- with sweat instead of rain.

A few minutes ago, i was wondering where my last afternoon in Kolkata had gone as I got up to turn on a light because it had so darkened outside. It was 3:19 pm, and the rain arrived a minute later.

Kolkata. Her favorite colors are blue and white, so she has nearly everything painted the same-- the curbs, and the tree trunks too. A few years ago she wondered why London was the only city with an iconic Big Ben clock tower, so she built one here too in Kolkata, a replica one third of the scale of the original. There was talk of her having or trying to have tea with the Queen a little while ago, and all I could think of was how many people lost their lives trying to rid this country of that same woman.


Kolkata. The Park Street Cemetery is one of those magically quiet and secluded places in the middle of the city that exist in another time, if not another place. Most memorial statues in the cemetery have been left on their own, but stenciled in bright red paint on several is the warning "Endangered By Tree Roots."

Kolkata. "Where were you walking today?" "All over. We sat down on a bench in an alley and had tea at this very old place..." "Oh yes, that place is famous. They boil the milk for a very long time, so the tea is very good." Today I discovered yet another thing my parents already knew.

@lensterminal asked me this morning if I'd ever visited the Park Street Cemetery, and since I hadn't, he was gracious enough to guide me to this British colonial era burial ground, possibly the largest collection of neoclassical funerary statuary outside Europe. Almost immediately after we walked through the gates, we saw this brilliant white rooster digging a hole. He was hot, as we were, and the soil underneath was damp and cool. There are many other wonderful things worth writing about and photographing in that cemetery, of course, of which the rooster was but one.

Kolkata. Early this morning I met a friend and walked around the city. I don't think I took many good photographs because too much was happening. At a certain point, we boarded an auto rickshaw, and after a few minutes, another woman joined us with her five year old girl, dressed in a crisp white uniform and obviously on her way to school. The girl kept crying and screaming at the top of her lungs that she didn't want to go while violently kicking and hitting the seat in front of her in desperation. The driver tried to shush her, which only made her scream more. By the time we reached her school, she was a little quieter (but not much), and as we left her with her mother there on the sidewalk,the girl looked more terrified than any child her age should be. When I was young, I would cry when my older brother when to school, mostly because I wanted to go too but was too young. One day I came home from nursery school crying that I never wanted to go again. It took my mother some time to discover that I didn't want to go because I had seen another child be beaten with the paddle.

Kolkata. "Is that store still open?" "No. I don't think so."

Between Mandarmoni and Digha. A few days ago we drove our car near the fishery where two trawlers had come in with that day's catch. A man nearby on his motorcycle spoke loudly in Odiya on his mobile, and I understood just enough to hear him discussing the going rate for a certain fish that day elsewhere. A few minutes after I took this photograph, the fishermen on the trawlers loaded a series of heavy plastic crates full of fish onto their bare shoulders and then passed them to the truck driver who placed them in his truck. I took some other photographs with my zoom lens and showed them to my mother in the car before we drove away. She said that they would have been better if I hadn't chosen to stand at such a distance and had stood much closer-- so you could see the fish. She had a point. My father explained that a Chinese fishing vessel in that area had led to some incident recently, which is why each trawler was decorated with so many Indian flags. I didn't feel comfortable going any closer so I didn't.

Mandarmoni. [2 of 2] The furnishings at the seaside hotel were simple, as one would expect: two plastic lawn chairs, one of which I carried outside onto the balcony to use as a doorstop and the other on which to drape my dupatta; the formica-like bed frame with attached night stands on each side, each with two small drawers; and a glass and steel frame coffee table on which I placed the shells I'd gathered and washed off in the bathroom sink, alongside that day's Bisleri bottle. It all looked as if it belonged there-- except for the crimson and gold brocade tasseled curtains that would have looked more at home in a 19th century drawing room.

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