People of the Railroad

A feature by Giovanni Mereghetti.

Home to nearly 20 million people, the crowded and teeming metropolis of Kolkata, India features expansive slums and shantytowns, with many nestled along the city’s railway tracks.  UIG contributing photographer Giovanni Mereghetti’s evocative images of the Park Circus railway station and the slums that are aligned next to its tracks are both stunning and shocking, reminding us that not all humans live lives of security and comfort.

Giovanni follows the tracks from the Park Circus station to meet the composed and dignified people living lives of extreme hardship and poverty. These slums operate like normal Indian villages in many ways – the women tend to house duties washing clothes, weaving wool and preparing meals, while the men can be found in the shadows, sitting cross-legged playing checkers or a game of cards.  The children of Park Circus, always curious, greet Giovanni with the few words of English they know and do everything to get his attention.

Giovanni’s images illustrate the hardships and dangers of life along the tracks.  The slum of Anand Nagar, the city of joy where the famous work of Dominique Lapierre was inspired, no longer exists. Today there is Park Circus, with its nauseating smells, its undrinkable water, and with the rubbish massed behind the hovels that still barely stand.

All photos by: Giovanni Mereghetti

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