Into the Belly of Kolkata
'Deli belly', 'dirty hands', 'be careful, and don't eat the street food' - or maybe hearing 'the black hole of Kolkata' is enough to bring the barge pole out to play. People have so many stereotypes when they hear you're headed to Kolkata or even just that giant lump of land called India but it isn't half as deep fried 'n dangerous as you may think. Feb 2020, first time in Bengal; with no expectations and an open mind after the opportunity to follow The Everybody Love Love Jhal Muri Express aligned. Here's a visual sweep into the belly of the city, led by Angus Denoon. He made a film on Kolkata 10 years back.
** Updated in the context of corona and the importance of still writing ** I thought at first this may seem a little off-topic 🦠, that the sight of a bare hand delving into juicer might make you choke on your laptop-poised spaghetti. But I think it's probably important to not just have all corona-focused content at the moment. We still need to look back to learn, and not forget everything before 'mad times' 2020, still celebrate it *. I watched a film (Blinded by the Light) yesterday and the scene of people dancing in a club made my instinct flinch a little (ironically in sync with the protagonist's Pakistani parents in 1970's Luton, and that that's all I'm craving right now 😭); it looked wrong and that's just one week into isolation. We're all in this together, and it's important as ever to see and learn about other worlds. Not saying we should be like that - every city has its own way, rhythm, fabric which at the moment seems frighteningly torn apart and ground to a halt but to be able to let down our preconceptions and appreciate it, look up not down because it is beautiful 'same but different' as they say in Bengal, we too are at different stages of developing but all the same. So spag bol aside and delve in.
* "We need more means to counter the growing nationalist and illiberal tendencies in our societies. Why not use the power of celebration? Celebration as cultural and political intervention. Festivity as an act of gratitude, of attention, of hospitality. A power to create and entrench narratives, to foster love and loyalty for the things the state holds dear", Priya Basil, Be My Guest - Reflections on Food, Community and the Meaning of Generosity.