Calcutta is a metropolis in the state of Bengal with a population of about 20 million people. Most live in the three thousand slums scattered over the city's 185 square kilometres. Under an everlasting grey sky, the backdrop of a chronic state of poverty, human beings cease to exist. Everything clashes together in a swarm of men, women, children and animals—in the deafening sound of voices, shouting, incessant honking of horns. Many people come from villages in the middle of nowhere, drawn by a vision of the big city. They flee from monsoons, famine and hunger. Taken in by the utopia of an employment, many of them end up not surviving in this exile and very few make their fortune. In the slums teeming with cockroaches and mice, people die of dysentery, viral fevers, malaria and hunger. In Calcutta everything is a problem from climate to pollution to overpopulation. But this city, as tragic as it is pure, is the stage on which one witnesses the drama of humanity—one incorrupt, whose most remarkable actors are the children. They run, play and smile gently. Their spontaneity reveals itself through a prodigious vitality, rendering them lucid and pure. Here poverty manages to morph into a kind of strength that bonds people with a seemingly inexplicable tie of mutual solidarity and trust. Selfishness is not rewarded and misery is shared, with pride. In Calcutta everyday strife in the fight to survive leaves no room for the Western notions of progress and future, development and expectations. In Calcutta what matters is Calcutta, leaving all not involved in its perpetuation and preservation over time by the wayside.
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