A cold misty morning in Kolkata and two women trying to make way through the narrow lanes of the famous Mullick Ghat Flower Market. This is the only opening line that I could think of for this story that I am about to relate. “A Tourist In Her Own City – Part 1” is truly a different journey not only for me as the photographer but also my muse, Reeneta Dutta of Glamshutter. There are going to be a few more parts to this series and I hope it is as intriguing for you as it was for me to be a guide, a photographer as well as be a tourist too exploring Kolkata armed with a camera.
We had decided that we wanted to go to Victoria Memorial first but then our plans changed. As we headed for Mullick Ghat, I looked out the window of my Uber praying that it would not be very sunny because I wanted to photograph Reeneta in the first light of the morning. Though I had taken the Howrah Bridge every day for two whole years, I had never stepped into the Mullick Ghat market. This was a first time for me too. To reach the market, we had to cross over a small footbridge and make our way through a throng of people going to and fro about their day’s business. Moving into the flower market, we were guided by flower sellers and locals until we found a good spot. I have never met a bunch of people so willing to help until I realized that so many photographers and their muses must have been down these narrow alleys. We found our spot and I somehow managed to get quite a few decent frames as people passed by us all the time. It was a bazaar and the hullabaloo is its most natural feature.
We asked the old flower lady to stand with Reeneta for a photograph and she did so willingly. However, it was another thing to make her smile. I had to tell her, “Oh Dida, ektu haso na!” (Grandmother, why don’t you smile !) to make her giggle and I found the perfect moment. Mullick Bazaar Flower Market it seems is without any roads. The number of people and vehicles moving through the narrow lanes seem to make it so. With so much happening around and the fear of being run over by the small trucks that were a common sight taking up space in what little was left of the already overpacked roads.
To escape this madness, we decided to take a short break at a shop. This man photographed with Reeneta was kind enough to not only let us sit for a while but also he smiled at my camera as I took the shot. The heaps of orange and yellow marigolds, Reeneta’s white saree with red and black pattern on the borders and a man in a gamcha turban and lungi made a story out of a photograph that doesn’t need me telling much.
Next we found ourselves at the original Mullick Ghat to which the grand Howrah bridge makes for the perfect backdrop. It is a beautiful view from there, one which no photograph in the world will ever do justice to. It is one that is to be experienced rather than be spoken of. Pigeons and crows flying by, dogs playing around, chickens pecking on grains and scores of lanky human frames dipping in the holy water of the Ganges. It is a beautiful scenery, one that should find itself in an artist’s canvas and a writer’s novel. For a mere photographer like me, words fail as I gaze at it in awe.
This brings me to the part where I conclude the first part of this series. I hope you enjoyed “A Tourist in her own city -Part 1”. It is a labour of my love for photography and Reeneta’s urge to explore her own city having lived away from it for so long. Do leave your comments below and let me know what you think.