David, Matt and myself alongside Howrah Bridge in Calcutta in 2013

I just watched the movie, Lion. It’s the true story of a young boy who gets lost in Calcutta, India, and separated from his family. He lands in an orphanage where he is eventually adopted by an Australian couple. The movie is both tragic and uplifting as the young man searches for his family and his past. I won’t share any more so I won’t spoil the story, but this movie is worth your time.

Market below Howrah Bridge

The story is especially fascinating because I’ve been to Calcutta with my sons and walked across the bridge featured in the film. That area of Calcutta is every bit as crazy as the film portrays. I enjoyed my visit, although I was somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of people and activity. I cannot imagine being a young boy, around 6 years old, lost, separated from family, unable to understand the language and trying to survive the streets. Like I said, I recommend this movie!

One note about Howrah Bridge, which is featured in the film. It is reputedly the busiest bridge in the world, carrying 500,000 pedestrians and half a million vehicles a day. It seemed that way to me as it was packed when I walked across. However, the bridge is under siege as thousands of people spit guthka – a chewable mixture of tobacco and slaked lime which often causes oral cancer – on the steel hangers. This spit is literally eating away at the support structure of the span. Several plans are in the works to save the bridge from spit, but so far nothing has quite solved the problem.

Sign on Howrah Bridge – which is not working