Woman with Umbrella, Kolkata 2023

Woman with Umbrella, Kolkata 2023

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There is, perhaps, no city in the world that is so commonly thought of as synonymous with “poverty” than Kolkata. Though the city’s “New Town” has skyscrapers that house the wealthy, most of the city is a sprawl of interconnected, poor, low-rise villages. By some estimates 40 percent of India’s population and as many as 50 percent of the children in Calcutta live beneath the poverty line. Its notorious nickname, “the black hole of Calcutta” conjures images in the minds of many Westerners of a metropolis full of miserable people. Yet, this is not what I observed. Compared to the people living in America’s urban slums and homeless camps, I found the slum dwellers of Kolkata joyful, friendly and generous – moral people with strong marriages, intact families and a rich and colorful cultural tradition.