There are moments in the lifespan of a city, which are written down in its annals as watershed moments. 16th August 2015, was perhaps one such day. Over 85 of Calcutta’s photo enthusiasts turned up outside the Shobhabazar Metro Station in a bid to capture their city and become a part of history!
The World IP Meet organised in 24 cities across the globe threw a challenge to the residents of those cities to freeze moments of their city around the theme of ‘India Uncovered’.Kolkata took up the challenge under the initiative of our curator Sammya Brata Mullick- famously known by his Instagram handle @deckle_edge to his endless list of followers on that forum.He ably managed to form a passionate group of fellow enthusiasts who handled the nitty-gritty details of the organisation of an event on this scale. This went onto become the largest Instameet in Kolkata till date!
We were further encouraged by the presence of veteran photographers like Soumya Shankar Ghosal, Indrajit Lahiri, as well as Manjit Singh Hoojan of Calcutta Photo Tours. They mentored many of the participants and gave of their expertise and experience with graciousness.
With predictions of a thunderstorm in the afternoon, and the skies greying up from the morning, Kolkata had a lot of hurdles to overcome. But the weather gods grudgingly gave into fervent prayers and good wishes that went up in silent hordes, every time any of the participants looked up at the skies.
It did rain but only as a pathetic drizzle, hardly significant enough to dampen the high spirits of the happy group that increased in numbers by the minute. Tags prepared with much thought and deliberations by the core group, designed ably by Sukanta Pal, with inputs from everyone, were worn with pride and delight.
A special mention must be made of the super-efficient preparation of the tags – running to the printers, cutting each one of them carefully and then enclosing them into the cases. (Eshita Dey, Swagnik Bhattacharya, Sourzendu Das and Group Administrator Rajib Dutta- take a bow)!The Whatsapp group chat is the sole witness to this hectic activity that went on till the last moment as people kept on joining in!
Moreover, the story of the two handmade banners prepared that very morning by Rajib and Swagnik is a tale best told over a cup of tea Calcutta-style!
The first stop for this motley gathering was the Shobhabajar Rajbari or the palatial mansion of the famous zamindars of Shobhabajar who are credited for establishing the autumnal worship of the Goddess Durga as a community festival. The crumbling heritage mansion was the perfect spot for a group photograph before everyone split into breakaway groups of explorers and shutterbugs.Here are a few shots to help capture the camaderie and bonhomie that filled the lonely mansion with happy echoes.
And then we were off- the broad stream of cameras and mobile phones branched out into tributaries, moving into the cramped alleys of the nursery of the gods- Kumartuli. Thereafter, it was as much a story of countless frames, clicks, moments frozen for posterity, as it was of endless conversations over finer details of the skills of photography. This is what made this Instameet so special- it became a perfect space for sharing of the two common loves that drew all of us there that morning- Kolkata and photography.
And how does this tale end? Well, the story is still being written.
Kolkata has managed to top the list of maximum number of photo posts on Instagram- 477 till the time of this post! And each of those photographs have a story to tell- a city and its dreams- past, present and future locked into digital codes forever.
The significance of a destination is often judged by its journey. As the sun set and i made my way home that day, a belief grew strong in me , like it has done in so many others, that something special began that day.
Kolkata has effortlessly carved out her very own space in the world of fervent Instagrammers and brought them her very own flavour of ‘lovin’ and guess what? She can’t wait for more!
(You can find more of these incredible images on Instagram- at #IP_MEET AND #Ip_Kolmeet
My gratitude goes out to all my friends who have contributed their pictures to my blog! Thank you so much! )