Home, sleep, home

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Residents in West Bengal's capital, many of them homeless, sleep in the streets or where they work

In Kolkata, capital of India's West Bengal state, many people work, play - and sleep - on the streets.

Some of them, who moved to the city once known as Calcutta to earn a living, sleep where they work. This allows them to send more money home.

"We have no shelter," said Mr Nizamuddin, 60, who works in a wholesale market.

But street workers, from second-hand clothes sellers to rickshaw drivers, usually too poor to afford a home, say they are mostly left undisturbed by the authorities.

Many of them are from other states such as Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha.

Mr Bikash Tati, a 39-year-old labourer, is unperturbed by life on the streets. "We have food and we can sleep peacefully at night," he said.


Mr Nizamuddin, whose duties at his workplace include pouring cooking oil into tins and weighing them, uses plastic sheets to take shelter from the rain and the chilly winter.

He wishes there were night shelters for workers like him.

In Kolkata, whose poverty Mother Teresa embraced, cycle rickshaw drivers sleep in their vehicles at night, while workers in a vegetable market call their place of work home too.

Men wash at municipal taps in the streets. Others brush their teeth with neem twigs early in the morning.

Some have set their sights on life goals early on.

Rahul Shaw, 10, reads a textbook in his father's rickshaw before he goes to a government-run school that gives him free meals. His ambition: to become a doctor and treat people for free. - Reuters

We have no shelter.

- Mr Nizamuddin, 60, who works in a wholesale market