Who are we? We are either somebody or nobody. What gives you the right to call yourself somebody? Something you do, something that makes you stand out or be remembered I guess. The Sainthood Project for me is all about a group of people who call themselves The Nobody who I believe are very special and truly the somebody we all want to be. I guess I may not be making complete sense but bear with me and read on. You might be asking yourself by now , she is a food writer so where is the food blog what is all this about nobodies and sainthood? To that I will answer that this blog is also about food , a different kind of food … food that feeds your soul and not your stomach. The food that you need to grow as a human being and rise up to your responsibilities as a part of our beautiful City of Joy.
Kolkata born and internationally acclaimed photographer Kounteya Sinha has decided to turn the cobbled streets of Rome into his open air gallery to portray Kolkata – the city that gave Mother Teresa her name. He initiates a two week long civilian movement called “The Sainthood Project” to coincide with Mother Teresa’s Canonization as a Saint in the Vatican. Despite his many successes Kounteya is all set for another coup of sorts – the first ever crowd funded show to portray the city of his birth – Kolkata in Rome. Crowd funding is the practice of funding a project by raising money through donations from a large number of people.
There is so much more to Kolkata than the grand colonial buildings, the majestic Victoria Memorial or the iconic Howrah Bridge. It’s all the layers it has, that Kounteya peels away baring its beating heart, its naked core …. making us take a very real look at it with all its little secrets that are woven into the very fabric of our life that we walk or drive past every day but never truly actually see. This is a perspective of my city that has left me stunned. There is beauty in the squalor and yet its charm endures. But it also makes me realize that Kolkata is a city of opposites from towering mansions and soaring buildings to the crowded little lanes , the jostling crowds however for me it’s the people with their warmth and kindness that give the city its unique and magnetic force …. That perhaps is what keeps bringing Kounteya back to his birthplace. It’s a bond so powerful that even after fifteen years of being away he wants to pay such a beautiful tribute to this grand old city.
Kounteya who is presently shooting all over Kolkata will unveil “The Sainthood Project” on August 24 outside the Vatican. For twelve days, Kounteya along with his team “The Nobody’s” will stand on the streets of Rome and showcase photographs of Kolkata. He says he wants to make people fall in love with his city just the way he loves it. He has picked 11 major spots which will become his open air gallery – Vatican City, the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Palantine Hill, Vatican Museum, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Colosseum, St Peter’s Basilica, Galleria Borghese and in front of the Roman Forum where 50 photographs of Kolkata will be exhibited under The Sainthood Project.
Kounteya repeats Mother Teresa’s words – “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love. This is my way of doing a small thing for the city I so love.” The Sainthood Project as an idea is path breaking. It diminishes everyone involved with it, into a nobody. Everyone stands at the same pedestal with one single commonality – their love for Kolkata.
People involved in the project aren’t stars. They are simple, common people. Imagine a full time young lawyer harboring and nourishing his secret love for music. The Sainthood Project will see Amlan Guha compose 15 incredible new tracks that he will play on the streets of Rome to glorify Kolkata”.
Surasree Seal – a young photographer from Government Art College struggles to make her ends meet. She stays in Kolkata – away from her home and family to be able to make a mark as a photographer and in spite of her desperate need to earn, she holds off all her projects to hop on board as its creative director.
Sakhi Singhi is a young student of theatre at the Sarah Lawrence College, New York. Moved by the project’s ideals, Sakhi who has to join back for her classes on Sept 1 is actually coming to Rome to become a “Nobody” and will stand and be an ambassador for Kolkata from Aug 22nd to 30th.
Opal Joseph is a mother of two and hardly finds time managing both office and home. She however has decided to volunteer for the Sainthood Project.
Srijita Ray Barman and Rajashree Bose are two of Kolkata’s well known communication specialists. They are neck deep in handling some of Kolkata’s biggest brands but for the duo, the Sainthood Project is a pilgrimage – a way to glorify the city of their birth and bread.
Thanks be to Kounteya’s crowd-funding idea funds have started coming in from across the world. Donors from UK and US and as far as Nigeria have started to donate money towards the cause but a lot more still needs to be done with very little time in hand. And so I ask you my fellow citizens …. How many years has this city sheltered you and yours? How many wonderful and cherished memories have you had associated with Kolkata? How many friends have you among the wonderful people of this City? More importantly HOW MUCH HAVE YOU GIVEN BACK FOR ALL ITS GIVEN YOU? It’s time to give back a little bit of what its given you. Spread the word, contribute whatever you can … it will all add up to making The Nobody into somebody who will let Rome know all about us and our beautiful City of Joy.
Picture Credit : Kounteya Sinha and Team Nobody