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December 12, 2003

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Calcutta spreads from the banks of the Hooghly River like a deposit of flooded humanity. We arrive on the overnight train and since then it's been tough to breathe uncrowded airspace. From train station to thoroughfare Calcutta presses people together. Two hundred years ago the British converted this backwater region into the capital of British India, the center of the colony's politics and economy. After they left and Partition began, refugees poured into the city. Squalor, starvation, and overpopultation resulted. Calcutta rises from these burdens, renames itself Kolkata, and promotes itself as the centerpiece of Indian culture, the 'City of Joy.' If not the centerpiece of Indian culture, it's certainly the densest place of Indians. We hole up in Sudder St, off Chowringhee Rd, the focal point for budget travellers.
The black hole of Calcutta now a corner of the main post office. On a sweltering night in 1756, over 140 British captives suffocated in the building's cellar.
Howrah bridge, the world's busiest - over100,000 vehicles and countless pedestrians cross it everyday.