The Colors of Kolkata

“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” – The Wizard of Oz 

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“We are on a movie set right? Where are the cameras”…I thought to myself as I hurriedly glanced around trying to take in as much as possible…

                                                                            …

This was my second visit to India, the first being a cousin’s wedding. My husband and I planned a last minute trip to visit a friend from Dubai. From the moment we sat in the car at the airport, I had a feeling that this trip would be different from the first. Honestly, I was a little apprehensive, but excited to experience life and culture in a different part of the world.

Each day as we sat comfortably in the back seat of our private car down the streets of Kolkata, I was truly amazed at the sights I saw. From the crazy driving culture, to cows in the middle of the road and people bathing on the side of the street, Kolkata provided a visual overload that took some time to process. The producer in me loved the colors, chefs and their street food stands, the bright yellow ambassador taxis, the rickshaws, numerous locals carrying large loads on their heads, crowded trucks with fruit hanging off, and so much more.

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The images I saw, I had only seen from movies. I knew it existed in real life, but to see it in person brought the images to life to the point of feeling like I was placed in the middle of a movie set. Any moment I would hear the word cut and see a director come out with a shot list and the jib roaming above. Then I would remember that this isn’t a movie and this is the way many people live street after street after street. My American naivety would hit me smack-dab in the face and I shuddered at the thought of all the comforts I take for granted, riding around in a private car pointing and taking photos of their everyday life. I remember the times tour groups would come into ESPN’s screening room, where production assistants (PA) do most of their work. The tour group would stand outside the glass doors snapping numerous pictures before coming inside to hover over working PA’s trying to beat deadlines. Many of my co-workers joked that it felt like a zoo and we were the main attraction. Who knows how many pictures were taken of me!

In the end, I really did wish I had a camera crew with me to capture and share their stories. I know a few freelance crews from my days at ESPN that would do an amazing job on the streets of Kolkata especially in 60p (industry vocabulary for slow motion video). I can only imagine the amazing stories that we could capture. But for now my pictures and soon to publish video will have to suffice.

I learned a lot while I was there, too much for one blog post, but here are a few things I will remember and highlight in subsequent posts, so check back!  For now I will leave you with this:

  • No lanes. Just Drive.
  • Never forget the 10% rule. NEVER!
  • Staring is not rude.
  • Bring a Bible.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and no need for make-up
  • Breath!

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