Micro Living and Working in Kolkata

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While visiting Kolkata, I had the honor to go with photographers Debosmita Das and Joy K Roy Chowdhury to visit a unique community. Using their eyes, lenses, charm and smiles, we were able to create intimate contact with the people, who live and work in micro spaces. The area is a mix of small workshops, mainly for processing metal and creating various tools, and tiny dwelling units surrounding common courtyards where meeting and washing take place.

As we enter the neighborhood in the morning, workshops are already active

and I start observing how Joy is taking pictures

trying to enjoy the warm welcoming sights as well as taking pictures, not an easy task…

As an outsider who doesn’t speak the language, I am thankful for Debosmita and Joy who communicate with the locals, and turn the cameras from an intimidating intrusive device into a communications means.

We enter a maze of alleys…

into a beautiful tiny, quiet, courtyard, surrounded by small houses.

We climb up to the upper floor

It seems hard to separate here between “outside” and “inside”. An open corridor leads to various rooms, in each room a whole family lives. In Western Europe this corridor and rooms will all serve one family…

This boy is happy to invite us to his family’s room

The head of the family smiles and explains that they are happy with this standard of living. “I have a job, a wonderful family and great neighbors”.

Here’s another family room…

We leave the courtyard highly inspired, to let the ladies have their morning wash. Living in small spaces is often discussed among architects and city planners in developed countries. But it is a social and cultural matter rather than a question of architectural design – people have to willingly be ready to enjoy basic living standards. Once this condition is fulfilled, no architects are needed to create functional as well as beautiful and intriguing spaces for living.

We head to explore additional alleys.

All generations are seen together when everybody’s outside.

Here are a few blacksmiths we met

and back to the narrow alleys

This is quite a small kitchen, but look how tidy it is. And after all, it is the quality of food prepared which counts…

This girl is peeping from quite a small room

Its size is about 2.5 square meters.

Children enjoy playing trompo and yoyo

For me, it was an outstanding experience. As a photographer, enhancing my abilities to use the camera as a means to approach people. As an architect, an amazing lesson about how people live.

 

Watch a video of the neighborhood

 

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