Kolkata by Alexia Riner
Based on a conversation with Vasantha Dorairaj, of Kolkata, India.
Vasantha Dorairaj (born 1937), grew up in Kolkata, India (formerly known as Calcutta) from the ages of 9-24, and currently resides in Chennai, India. She is a mother of two and spends her free time participating in Hindu festivities within her community.
Bangladesh and India share a 4,156 km (2,582 mi)-long international border, the fifth-longest land border in the world, but when Vasantha was growing up, what is now called Bangladesh was known as East Bengal. Though she was not exposed to much during her youth due to her conservative Brahmin upbringing, she noted there wasn’t a significant divide between the East and West, except for slight cultural differences in the Bengali accent, the cuisine, and a large Muslim population in the East. Today however, the strict border is used as a route for illegally smuggling livestock, drugs, and immigrants from Bangladesh to India, and there have been numerous problems between the two governments and border control forces on how to address these issues.
Vasantha’s story is represented as a part of Perimeter because her experience growing up on the Bangladesh-India border provides insight on how borders evolve over time.