Posts Tagged 'Calcutta'

The Rickshaws of Kolkata

Kolkata Rickshaw

It is a classic image of Kolkata: scrawny, spindly-legged men, often in advanced middle-age and barefoot, pulling passengers through the streets in rickshaws. According to a vote taken last month by the city legislative council, however, the hand-pulled rickshaw may soon be a relic of the past. The city has banned the practice as “inhumane.”

Kolkata is the last major city in the world where hand-pulled rickshaws carry passengers. China, where the rickshaw was invented, outlawed the “bourgouis and exploitative” practice in 1949, during the early days of the Cultural Revolution. Now, politicians in West Bengal are hoping to follow suit. Says the Chief Minister, Buddhadev Bhattacharya, “We have taken a policy decision to take the hand-drawn rickshaw off the roads of Calcutta on humanitarian grounds. Nowhere else in the world does this practice exist and we think it should also cease to exist in Calcutta. It is inhumane.”

Are hand-pulled rickshaws inhumane?
Continue reading ‘The Rickshaws of Kolkata’

Kolkata

kolkata3.JPG

It has been more than four years since I was last in Kolkata, a city I recall with extreme fondness from my first visit. There are, indeed, many good reason to love Kolkata. The name of one of them is Rosalie Giffoniello, and in 2002 we had come to Kolkata specifically to meet her.

Rosalie runs an NGO called Empower the Children, which addresses developmental, educational, nutritional, and shelter needs for some of Kolkata’s most vulnerable children – the physically and mentally disabled and the economically disadvantaged. For two weeks in the fall of 2002, we worked with her in orphanages and non-formal schools during the days, and helped her with capacity-building late into the nights. For five blessed days, the West Indies came to Kolkata’s fabled Eden Gardens Cricket Grounds for a test against India, and each of those afternoons, our butts were in the stands for the two afternoon sessions – a brief respite from our work, which also taught us a fair amount about Indian popular culture.

So for the past four years I have been telling people, “Kolkata has a reputation as a shit-hole, but really, it is a wonderful city.”

How disappointing, then, to turn up here and discover that, indeed, Kolkata is a shit-hole after all.
Continue reading ‘Kolkata’


Blasts from the Past

Man Up!
Man up you pussy!

... because the idiocy of manliness is an evergreen topic.

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Talking Turkey
how to cook a perfect turkey in half the time

... because Canada and the US will celebrate their Thanksgiving holidays and, regrettably and preventably, not 1-cook-in-10 will serve a decent turkey.

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Filial Piety Awareness Day
Kaki Tusler, Mother's Day Celebrant

... because everyday is Mother's Day.

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America Dreaming Small
American Dream

... because the American Dream seems but a distant memory, given the country's dominant ethos of small-mindedness.

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Serenity and Gratitude to Bring in the New Year
New Year's Eve at Tibetan Pavillion

... to remind us that not every mix of Tibetans and Western spiritual seekers has to be nauseating.

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Incredible Vision
Infinite Vision

... to celebrate the new edition of Infinite Vision published in India.

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Expelliarmus! Harry Potter and the Path to Gandhian Nonviolence
Expelliarmus, Potter, Gandhi, Nonviolence

... reprised because military strategy seems more cruel and less effective than ever -- and certainly there is a better way.

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India Going Nowhere Fast
Nano in Flames

... because cars are ruining Pondicherry, where I live. How badly are they fucking up your Indian town?

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Understanding the Gift Economy
Gift Economy Explained

... reprinted because more-and-more people seem want to understand the gift economy. (Yeah!)

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