Call of the Wild, Calcutta

The Botanical Gardens in Calcutta during monsoon season is extremely lush. I wouldn’t describe them as neat… but what about this city IS neat? Nothing.

Birds called out from the bushes and trees in variety of tones and trills, but we never saw most of them. A mongoose ran across the road, stopped, and scratched himself with his hind leg. Large black fish stuck their mouths up from the surface of the water, were they carp? I’m not sure.Numerous ponds had lotus with giant pink flowers, and some had water lilies with pads at least thirty inches across.

The main attraction of the park besides the peace and quiet from the city noise is a 250 year old banyan tree that takes up the best part of an acre.

The banyan tree provides hiding and nesting places for birds and small mammals. These trees send roots down from the branches, creating yet another support for that branch, like a crutch, which later thickens and then looks like another tree. So one tree eventually can take up enough space to look like a grove of trees. This tree has survived two cyclones; the main trunk is gone but the rest of it is still standing.

It was the only place in the park where there was a breeze, something Santanu and I both noticed. The other cool thing we saw was the altar we discovered in between the trunks of another smaller banyan in the brush near the river, behind a fence. Dozens of clay deities aged by weather, moss and time.

 

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About psullivan66

Patricia Sullivan is a New York City based photographer whose portraits and personal projects have appeared in New York Magazine, on HBO's "Bored to Death," TimeOutNY and other magazines. Born in Chicago, Illinois, Sullivan is drawn to the people "with broad shoulders" whose belief in just working hard and doing the right thing are keeping this whole planet together. Besides rodeo, she has photographed cops on motorcycles (in their off hours) and her mother, "the toughest woman I know."
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