A collection of images from the neighbourhood I live in, capturing the textures, the shapes, and colours that so often are overlooked:
I write as I sit perched on the window sill, looking down upon evening activities of the average Kolkata resident: one trying to park his car into a space smaller than his vehicle; the neighbours lounging in their living room, with their pet pug-dog sprawled on the floor next to them; our gate-keeper strolling up and down the alley... being able to look down through our neighbour's windows draws a fine line between a curiosity, and being creepy on our part. But it is a luxury I chose to embrace - when else in my life will I be able to see the normal goings-on of this culture, which is so different to our normal.
Every day we walk past Indian citizens, often occupying their attention for a moment with our pale skin and attempting-to-look-ethnic clothing, and sometimes I wonder, what is their story? What was it like to grow up in this city? Do they think about the same things that I do? Back home in New Zealand, we have some way of being able to assume that the person you pass in the street is not too dissimilar to you, but here I can never assume. To assume would be to constrain, to categorize, or to pretend I have a grasp on the culture and the way this society works.
Sure, we are all human, and we do the same things. We wash our clothes, we eat, we strive to earn a livable income, and we interact with our friends, family, and peers. But the way I might wash my clothes, or the way I will embrace someone close to me can be completely different, and 100% defined by the way I have been bought up.
I don't often think into these things too much, but if I really want to become friends with the women I work alongside, I have to observe, listen, and learn about their culture.
So yes, in India I am a stalker, perched on a windowsill, looking in on the comings and goings of the people we live 10m away from, and I am proud of it. In a city where staring does not seem to be rude, and personal issues are laid bare, I observe and take it all in. I roll around the way someone reacted to a certain situation in my head, the way you might suck on a piece of candy - you savour the experience, and allow your mind to store away the memory, ready to pull it out when you are confronted by the same experience in the future, so you know how to act. In the case of candy, you see it, and your mind tells you, eat it! because you know it tasted good. If I saw a situation play out in front of me that I had come across in the past, I would know what I should do in that circumstance.
Hello, my name is Alanna, and I am a stalker.