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It is so dark — and dangerous — on the streets of Kolkata at night!

Friday, February 13th, 2004

Kolkata, India

Kolkata Streets

Danger at every step

It is so dark on the streets of Kolkata (Calcutta) at night. Streetlamps are few and far between, and those that do actually work are often of the incandescent variety, i.e. not very bright.

Although the streets are dark, you never feel afraid because you seldom hear of any criminal activity like muggings, etc. There are no streetwise gangs preying on innocent tourists, at least not that I have heard of — but then I do lead a pretty sheltered life!

The streets can be quite dangerous though, not because of criminals, but because you just cannot see where you are going. The long stretches between streetlights are illuminated only by the second-hand light spilling out of the dingy doorways of the numerous tiny stores and markets, and the smoky oil lamps and flickering candles of the street vendors.

The other night, walking back from the taxi rank after returning from the book fair, I saw this big trench dug along the side of the road. Obviously some municipal work had been carried out earlier in the day, but the remarkable thing was that at the end of the day, the trench was not barricaded or roped off, neither were there any red warning lamps or road signs: just the excavated earth surrounding the hole to give you some inkling of the imminent danger.

Pedestrians — and cars! — beware! In the U.S.A. you could be set for life after you sue the city, but here... well, I guess you just drag yourself out of the hole, dust yourself off, and (try to) keep on walking...

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Layout by imonk — February 13th, 2004.