Sunday, August 27, 2006

Calcutta photoblog: Scenes we’d like to see

I remember the “Scenes we’d like to see” sections in the MAD magazines (which I discovered in an uncle’s house in the late 60s). Of course that was irreverence, satire, black humour etc. (Wikipedia says: "written and illustrated by various, these were generally one-page vignettes which inverted the common conventions of moviemaking, advertising, or the culture at large, ending with a cliched character in a cliched setting, acting cowardly or saying something atypically honest.")

Going through my recently acquired Calcutta photo collection, this phrase, “Scenes we’d like to see”, came to mind looking at some of the pictures. But my usage is more innocuous, and innocent. Simply nice scenes, interesting, revealing, telling stories.


Don Iannone said...

Rama...thank you for showing us reality. Your images etch into our mind how life really is for a great many in India. I appreciate what you've shown.

Anirban said...

Very nice pictures. I would like to see more of them.

Anirban said...

I had started a photo blog with the help of my family in Kolkata and my wife's relatives in China some time back but have not updated it for a long time. Just wanted to share it with you.

Anonymous said...

From your pictures of Calcutta looks just like what it is portrayed in the western world - a city of unbelievable poverty, neglect, squalor and filth.

However one of my friends who was recently volunteering in the city told me that the city physically is not as bad as portrayed. However she did say that most of the middle class people were too uptight - thinking that they are India's cultural mantle holders and thinkers.

No wonder the city has to survive on western charity.

rama said...

Hullo Anonymous, thanks for your visit and comment.

I have tried to address your observation in this new post:

Of course we see what we want to see, what we are. The same reality can be viewed very differently by two persons, based on who they are, where they come from, their make-up etc.

Regarding the city surviving on western charity - I think that is not quite correct. Of course a lot of charity tourists come to Calcutta, volunteer in Mother Teresa's establishments and so on. But that is an insignificant part of the city's life and resource flows. Such charity work also of course addresses the needs of the visitors as much as it does the needs of Calcutta's poor.

Currently, the UK govt's Dept of International Development (DFID) is (grant) funding a major poverty reduction project in municipal areas of metropolitan Calcutta. But that is also a small intervention in the context of the situation here, and its scale. Moreover, that project is also riddled with problems, largely owing to the failure of DFID. (I wrote about that in:

Best, rama