Nakhoda Masjid Area, Kolkata (India Blog 21)
December 11, 2018, Tuesday. Early morning, 7:15. “Well, here it is Tuesday, ain’t had no news,” as Hank Williams would say. “I’ve got those gone but not forgotten blues.” Nope. Unfortunately not the case.
I had a good sleep. I was up earlier and took a few pictures out my window with my cell phone.
I decided to go ahead and use the three rolls of black and white film that I have here in Calcutta. I will still have some colour film and I will supplement it with my cell phone. The pictures are different, but it is possible to make some with the cell phone. But they are not film! Now these cell phones are ubiquitous.
Being ubiquitous, people do not notice cell phones much. It is film cameras that are rare today.
I will head for Nakhoda Masjid (mosque) today.
3:00 Afternoon. A fine day’s outing, except for the very last, coming through Hogg Market. They spotted fresh meat. The hawkers and milk-powder scamming women were out for me big time there. Those hawkers can really be persistent. Absolutely! They will not let one go till one shouts and curses them out. Even then, they pretend not to understand it and continue! Good thing that I am not from Texas. One of them would surely get floored!
Anyway, I got through there and back to the hotel, after running the gauntlet. And the sons of bitches train those little kids to come after you too! That is really why they do not get more tourists in this country, I believe. So you have to get away from it or go Stark Raving Crazy!
One tends to forget that once out of the country.
So the day was not too bad. Good all around. I gave out the change that I had to beggars along the way. So that is now depleted. I now have nothing for beggars. But the city is so full of them that it hardly makes any difference. One could never have enough change to keep giving it out all day.
I think that the women with babies get to me worse than anything else. Get on my nerves the most. I had nothing to do with you producing the kid. Not me! I am not the guilty party!
Now I have to rest up for the evening. It would be nice to drink a beer. I think that I deserve one after that.
I made 260 photos with my cell phone today. Digital shit, of course.
4:00 Afternoon. I will write up some of my experiences today. In the morning, I went out into the street and got a taxi driver. He didn’t know where I wanted to go, but he pretended to know. I said Nakhoda Masjid. Clear as that. How could one mistake it? I don’t know if they listen carefully. He asked me for 300 rupees. It was way too much, so I agreed for 200.
He started up toward the city center but turned to the east. I told him that it was the wrong way. Because, I knew that the mosque was over to the west. I pointed to the other way, as he probably could not understand what I was saying. He didn’t pay any attention to me and kept going the wrong way.
It was clear to me that he didn’t know where he was going, so I said as clearly as I could “Nakhoda Masjid.” Anyone could understand it, but I think they do not actually listen. Maybe the area goes by a different name in Calcutta. Probably so.
Or maybe he would not think that a foreigner would want to go there!
Finally, I motioned to a guy on the street to ask him. I don’t know why the taxi driver did not ask someone. It seemed like he was a villager who had just come to the city recently. The guy that I asked then told the driver where to go. I knew the general direction. So then he turned around and went to the west, where I had pointed. So it was his fault that he went to the wrong place.
When we got there, I saw the Nakodha Masjid, the Nakhoda Mosque. It is in a rather closed building, not an open area like most mosques are. It was in a market area and I saw the beautiful minarets. Very colorful.
I paid him the 200 rupees, that we had agreed on. But then he asked for 400 rupees, because he had to circle around. But that was not my fault. He just screwed it up. Anyway, 200 was plenty, but I gave him 300 anyway. I knew that he would have to be satisfied with that.
When I got out, I recognized that it was in the same general area where I was yesterday. But the mosque was a little farther to the west. I would have come to the mosque yesterday if I had walked just a little farther.
I decided to use my cell phone to take pictures for some time, around the mosque. Actually, people pay less attention to one with a cell phone.
I generally do not make a photo of someone who asks me to make their photo, because they are not usually interesting people.
The other thing is that they may want money. I would rather make candid pictures of people on the street who do not know that they are being photographed.
If you just catch someone on the street, they do not have any right to ask you for money. And if they ask if I made their photo, I point to a building that I was photographing. If one is on the street, they have to expect that they may appear in some photograph.
I had some small ten rupee notes in my bag that I gave to beggars on the street. There were two blind guys across from the mosque and some others.
After a little bit, I got tired of scrabbling with the digital cell phone and got out my Leica M6. I finished the roll of colour film and put in a roll of Kodak Tri-X to push to ISO 1600. I went on down that street and reached the wide boulevard where I was yesterday.
Then I kept walking north on that wide avenue. I finished the roll of black and white in my Leica M6. It was a joy shooting with the Leica after using that joke of a cell phone. Digital bullshit. Horrible shit.
Now I have only two more rolls of black and white film.
There are interesting old buildings along the street close to the mosque to photograph. In one place, guys were constructing things on the street from bamboo. The pieces were laid out on the street.
Getting tired of walking, I got a taxi back to the hotel. I got out near Hogg Market. When the old Hindustan Ambassador taxi was stopped in traffic, I tried taking some shots out the window of the old taxi with the cell phone.
On an old beat-up bus, painted in bright red, white and blue colours, “Pilot.”
Where the driver sits. The Bengalis have a sense of humor.
“India is Great” painted on the back of buses.
“Blow Horn.” No need to ask that. Everyone does it all the time, anyway. I don’t know what good it does with all the horns going at once. Somehow the traffic snarls get straightened out in time.
Next stop: Lunch after pounding the pavement.