1982, Calcutta, India
Plate 24, 18x27
This is a scene of past British power, of days of glory, long gone - the old docks and freight station through which so many of the goods arrived and departed India. Abandoned after the British left, this frontage strip of road is now used by the rickshaw pullers to park their burdens. The shot wrenched me as I imagined the old days when this area must have been the most active and dynamic in the city, with new things coming in from Europe and Indian products going out to pay for them. That was an earlier day, now replaced by a location to park a symbol of a hopeless struggle - a cart to pull for a bit of rice so as to pull the cart another day - no hope, no salvation, no escape other than death.
I used a rickshaw once for about two city blocks to carry camera equipment, and I still remember the gyration of the muscles in the puller's back and how he could change continually his hand grips on the two long side rails. Always in the background of this simple shot is the picture of the busy docks of old, forgotten times, yet her people forever veiled in sweat and tears. I wondered what pushed it up to its glory. What dragged it down to its death?