Urban Gypsies

About 80 families live under the approaches to Kolkata’s 2nd Hooghly Bridge. Most of them have migrated from different districts, states, or even countries to seek shelter in the city of joy, hoping for a new lease of life. They are the refugees of climate change, victims of land acquisition, civil wars and riots. All of them are here for a common reason— seeking a better future. But is there any escape? The living condition gets only worse than the one left behind. Most of them do not have a roof above their heads or a job to make ends meet. They take shelter under the flyovers, on the pavements or along the banks of filthy canals. They take up rag-picking, work as labourers for meagre wages, work as domestic helps, tending ponies or horse carriages for joy rides, and performing monkey shows. Some of them turn into beggars, while others into thieves or sex workers. The city administration uproots them from their temporary homes in a drive to keep the city clean. They pack their belongings and settle down in another corner. Migrating within the claustrophobic confines of their cherished city, they lead a quicksilver life. A life that flows from one end to the other with their glistening dreams, loves, and struggles. The life of the ‘urban gypsies’.

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