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From the series "Blood of Calcutta"
Calcutta is a fascinating city. It's a world by itself, not because of the culture and architectural heritage. Most of its 19th century charm has disappeared. And it's a good thing. I like cities in their time. Some people complain of the poor state of the Great Eastern hotel for example, but that's just a vestige for me, when India was a colony. People mostly remember the good from the past. I often think about the bad stuff, and the 1850s in India was not a place filled with common joy and freedom. I don't like either the historic centre of Macao or the colonial riverside in Singapore. I prefer their Chinese and Malay faces blended into the modernity of our time. History is good to remember, but you can't trap a city inside, especially Calcutta, when the past refers to a time where the city was divided into the white town around Chowringhee, where the British visitors was installed, and the black town inhabited by Indians. Yesterday is not always better. I'm sure people of the 19th century was dreaming about the golden age of the 18th century, and so on. Calcutta is not a relic. It's alive, like Macao and Singapore, and for this reason they are great cities.
I love the eastern gate, where this photo had been taken. Here, markets were always the norm. It was the road to the salt lake. It's still here in a way. The bazar is intense, lively, exhilarating, and, well, congested. Maybe you don't like to be jostled by the world around you, but a good hustle wakes you up; it opens your eyes and you discover havens of peace in some places where the sun rarely touch the wall, where the noise barely decreases, where the stitches of the crowd hardly frays. But there is a serenity. The meat smells the raw blood like here, near a muslim butcher; the paan is spitted for spicy nuts and acid smells on the ground; some horns blow away the silence; however, a corner, here, carries the quietude of wise men and women knowing how to wait. Usually it's my place to sip my tea and wipe my brow.