In 2001 the Indian government changed the official name of one the world's largest cities from Calcutta (in the Eastern state of West Bengal) to Kolkata, as the city is known today. Calcutta had been the political capital of India during the initial stages of British occupation until 1911, and visiting present day Kolkata you can see the British heritage left behind. It's a vibrant and surprisingly colorful city which to me appeared more open and inviting than its sister cities in India.
My brief visit to Kolkata a year ago allowed me to experience the typical touristy selections. I was able to see the ministry of Mother Teresa, her home and church, now preserved spaces in her memory. The Victoria Memorial is a famous city landmark and museum dedicated to Queen Victoria, who ruled over India for a large chunk of occupation. I snuck into St. Paul's Cathedral after hours with a small 10 rupee bribe (common practice in India) to photograph its beautifully foreign Gothic architecture. My time there was too short though, there was so much more to take in.
No one can experience a city fully unless you choose to live there and immerse yourself in it. So as I leave the places I visit there's always a sense of wanting to have seen and done more, of wanting to return again someday to finish exploring. My current travel project is based on picture postcards, and some are encouraging me to return to places I've previously visited (the beauty of travel is that you will never be able to see it all, there will always be more out there).
When I first started The 30 Postcards Project it was with the hope that people from all over the world would be inspired to share their lives, their loves, and their experiences. A gentleman from Kolkata, Ronit Maitra, took it upon himself to generate several photo postcards of the city and its culture, which he generously shared with the project. His images give a brief glimpse into a unique people in a very distinctive city, and have my appetite whetted for returning there someday.
Photos in this series courtesy of Ronit Maitra and 30postcards.com.