Little did I know that I was soon to become addicted to this place;no other city had touched me so intensively before. I had just visited China,Tibet,Nepal,went to Vanarasi,Darjeeling and Shikkim. I still remember clearly the moment I arrived there. I was at the end of February 2001. I arrived on a night train from Shikkim .In the morning,the station was full of people lying on the floor .It was quite a challenge to try and cross the station as it was so crowded. From there I had to take a bus to reach the town centre;what a bus journey! When I finally reached destination, the driver informed me that it was there I had to get off. I therefore asked him to stop wherever and let me off: « No stopping there,you have to jump off the bus,petrol saving! Welcome to Kalkota! ».
This brutal introduction to the city really represents the extreme and harsh way of life in Calcutta where filth, pollution (the city is so polluted that cars are forbidden in central Calcutta, walking rickshaws have now taken over),extreme heat,diseases, crowd are all in excess but where you also find the most beautiful smiles in the world and where Indians seem so happy to just be alive that this positivity is infectious .That is where life takes its real meaning, as if they were saying « we are alive, let’s live this unique and beautiful blessing ».