By far, today was the most enjoyable day. I was sent around the city, in order to get landscape shots. After much research, I came to the conclusion that the best results would be on and around Howrah Bridge. An 8km walk, it gave me a chance to experience half the city for what it was, rather than at a quick glance from the back of an Uber.
I saw many a sight that disgusted me like stupid amounts of citizens spitting a large amount of red liquid everywhere, open urinals where men can have a wee on every other street and aggressive beggars aplenty. And yet, I saw the good side of the city as well. A place that functions despite its dilapidated buildings and amounts of slum-like buildings. Busy market stalls selling and repairing shoes, flowers, spice, and trinkets. With a constant barrage of traffic, it was a wonder any work was done. Everywhere was busy. It was just constant. I encountered smiling faces and intriguing places. Everywhere I went there was something going on.
What shocks me the most, is the number of stray dogs running around the city. They all look the same. The same brown and white. The same eyes. And sadly, the same thing, bony bodies. I saw some dogs kicked by people. I saw some dogs cuddled up in litter and tarpaulins. They were sat in the street near busy traffic, crossing roads, begging for food in packs – just generally having terrible lives. I even saw a tiny puppy. As I went towards it, it was apparent that a whole litter was asleep behind a rubbish pile. I walked away, only to hear the shouts of the locals, the puppies were following me. I wanted to stroke them and cuddle them and love them, but I couldn’t. That hurt a lot. It hurt to know that we in the UK spend stupid amounts of money buying our pets coats and expensive food and silly toys for them to break, where these dogs have nothing. They don’t even have food to eat, just scraps they find here and there. One even chased me home the other night from the market after my shop.
I came across many wonderful landmarks on my travels. I saw the statue of Gandhi. The beautifully coloured gates of the national library. The ominous figure of the Shaheed Minar tower. The western quirkiness of Quest Mall. Until I had to walk along a freeway, just to arrive at my destination. You might not think that a long, metallic bridge is anything of interest, but to me, it’s a sign of ingenuity, in terms of the engineering side of things but also the ability to get some amazing views of the city from the bridge – during the day and at night. The bridge is a nice flat walk, the flattest ground I’ve had underfoot all week. People kept stopping me and either asking me for selfies or asking for me to take a photo of them – although they seldom smiled.
I went along the banks of the Ganges river – famous for religious reasons, and because it’s horribly toxicity. People were still bathing in it and washing their clothes in it. I stayed as far back as possible but watched with interest. It is one of those places you just have to see in life.