Monkey Magic, Kolkata

A playful monkey on a colorful fence at a shrine near the banks of the Hooghly River in Kolkata, India

This piece of Monkey Magic was made around sunset at a Hindu temple, near the famous Howrah Bridge, on the shores of the Hooghly River in Kolkata, India.

It seemed to take hours to get from my hotel, in the centre of town, out to the temple. But the drive was fascinating.

As was evident from the moment I arrived at the airport, Kolkata seems to have missed out on the economic boom that has reached other major cities in India. 

It's a dusty, densely populated city with few signs of modern wealth. While the vestiges of empire still remain in some of the monuments left by the British, most of the local folk seemed to be going about their life at a very, very slow pace. It is as though they've accepted the reality of their life, rather than pushing for a better one. Clearly there are exceptions, it's just the feeling I got from walking around and observing the cities working men and women. And that's not to say they are not hard working. I witnessed quite the contrary.

I'm also aware that Kolkata has long been considered the cultural capital of India. I'm merely commenting on the rather forlorn way by which ordinary, everyday people seem to go about their life.

Yet, despite this initial impression, I found plenty of joy and an abundance of beauty every time I interacted with local people and I was really happy with a number of portraits I made of locals in and around their own neighborhoods.

While Kolkata does not offer the beauty of Kashmir or Rajasthan, the majesty of Agra, the laid back lifestyle of Goa or the buzz of Bombay it remains a great place to meet and photograph everyday Indian people in a country undergoing rapid change. Let's hope that the people of Kolkata don't miss out on so many of the advantages that come with a more modern and prosperous India.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru