Photographer's Note

A sunny afternoon by the Hooghly river in central Calcutta in November 1987. People are doing their laundry, bathing or just relaxing on the steps. In the background is the Howrah Bridge, one of the most famous landmarks of Calcutta and featured in many films from the city. Across the river, to the left outside the photo, is Howrah Station, the largest railway station in India.

This is a scan from a Kodachrome slide. The colours weren't totally bad, but they weren't totally good either, and since in this case the composition as such seemed more important than the colours, I decided to convert it to B&W.

Howrah Bridge was opened in 1943 when it replaced an old pontoon bridge from the late 19th century.

Crossing the bridge is a fascinating experience, no matter how much time you have spent in other parts of India. Among the overloaded trucks, buses, cars, rickshaws and bicycles there will be men carrying incredibly large and bulky loads on their backs, holy men covered in ashes, children begging, women selling flowers.

It's an exciting place to take photos, but it's not really legal...

In fact it was very illegal in 1972, one year after India's latest war with Pakistan which led to the independence of Bangladesh. I saw a large sign saying "Photography strictly prohibited", as I entered the bridge. I thought: "Oh, well, who cares?" and started to take photos.

I was arrested within a few minutes and brought to the nearest police station, but the super intendent was so impressed when he found out I was a university graduate, that he let me go and wished me a nice stay in India. I was no longer suspected of being a spy for Pakistan.

In 2018 there were proposals to lift the photo restrictions, but I don't know what happened.

In the WS is a colour photo from the same place but from another angle with a better light. There is also a river view from another part of Calcutta.

True to the Indian tradition of constantly changing the names of states, cities and buildings, Howrah Bridge is since 1965 officially known as Rabindra Setu (after the Bengali poet and Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore). And Howrah, Calcutta's twin city, is also spelled Haora. Calcutta is of course since 2001 officially Kolkata. The Hooghly, a tributary to the Ganges, is also spelled Hoogli or Hugli and is sometimes known as Kati-Ganga, according to Wikipedia.

This concludes my series of photos from India in 1987. Next time I will go somewhere else.

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Additional Photos by Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 11549 W: 562 N: 22248] (96736)
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