Trawlers, ferries and old boats, with a constant stream of people who live on the islands in the Sunderbans — the Hardwood Point jetty is a glimpse into another side of Kolkata.
Harwood Point, or Lot 8, is the jetty where people take a ferry to Ganga Sagar or Sagardwip, and to Ghoramara — two islands on the Sunderbans delta in the Bay of Bengal. Come here early and have breakfast at one of the many shacks lined up at the waterfront. You can take a cab or a bus from Esplanade — it is a three-hour rickety ride.
There are shacks selling the popular Bengali snack teley-bhaaja (fritters made of eggplants, onions, potatoes, pumpkins or cauliflowers dipped in a chickpea-flour coating). You can also have some tangy jhaal muri – the muri seller will briskly mix sprouted legumes and puffed rice with chopped onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, and green chillies, and top it all up with a drizzle of mustard oil and salt.
Check out the line of improvised vehicles which stand on one side, made of wooden planks, old Jeep parts, and a diesel engine that looks like the front of a motorbike.
Over jhalmuri, biscuits, and fritters, listen to conversations around you. Some of the women may be teachers who traverse the choppy waters of the Bay every day to teach at the only school in Ghoramara, or health workers at a government clinic. They have to skip school on rough weather days.