The Chinese have been trading with India for centuries and it was no surprise when one Chinese trader decided to set shop right near the city. With the establishment of a sugar processing plant, Tong Achew unknowingly sowed a seed for his community to call this country their home. Even though the sugar processing factory had a short life but that paved the opportunity for the Chinese to come to Calcutta in search of a better living.
Continue reading “Chinese Temples and Churches of Kolkata”
As the giraffes were busy chewing the leaves of the almost bare to the bark tree my daughter commented: “which one of the giraffes is named Ezra?” I was busy clicking photographs of the giraffes so did not hear her properly and my daughter repeated her question. Almost stunned I was speechless as to why would a giraffe be named Ezra then my daughter pointed out to the cemented embossed name on the giraffe section of the Alipore Zoological Gardens in Kolkata. Instantly I was taken aback almost thirty years when I heard my cousins always telling me that I belong to the Gubay House which actually was the monkey enclosure at the very same zoo.
What I failed to notice then and just realized it while I was drafting the blog is the contribution of the Jewish community to my city of Calcutta. Ezra, Gubay etc. were esteemed members of the Jewish community in the city who had actually donated large sums of money for various development works around the city and that included donating to the Zoo for animal welfare.
I had decided at the beginning of the year 2018 that this year I would like to concentrate on the various minority communities of the city and after the Chinese, my next blog would be about the Synagogues of Kolkata. Many of my blogger friends remind me that there were a few existing blogs on the same topic so what would be different about my blog. Well to put it straight for the first I would like to individually look at each of the three existing synagogues and also to write a little more about the two synagogues that do not exist anymore.
Continue reading “Synagogues of Kolkata”
The proximity of Sir Stuart Hogg Market or I should say New Market from my office makes it an ideal location for my afternoon post-lunch walks. I have gone to this market so many numbers of times that I have got used to all the lanes and by-lanes that interconnect each other within the market premises. Being a blogger with a keen interest in the heritage of my city I always wanted to write a blog about this market but somehow it keeps getting delayed with other priorities.
While once photographing the outer sections of the market I came across a Coat of Arms which I initially thought that of Sir Stuart Hogg but it really did not make sense. A quick search led the logo or emblem to the erstwhile Calcutta Municipal organization. Now here things got little interesting, why would the city municipality have storks in their coat of arms? You actually do not see any storks in the city so why have them on your logo? As I searched deeper and deeper into old documents I got to know something which I was unaware of. Firstly, I got to know more about the city’s municipal organization and its heritage and secondly, about the real reason for having a stork in the coat of arms.
Continue reading “Mysteries of Storks and Calcutta Municipal Corporation”
The only person to possibly have witnessed the Japanese bombing of Calcutta (Kolkata) during WWII were my paternal grandparents. I have never seen my maternal grandparents thus never would know their version of the history. My grandmother was a born storyteller, a prolific writer she had the finesse to tell stories and she told it in a way which would surely attract anyone especially a 10-year-old boy which was me. My grandfather was on the other had a man of few words and would be busy in his own world writing diaries and listening to radio something which he continued to do even when cable television had arrived and continued until his death.
Of all the stories that my grandmother would tell me the stories of war would interest me the most. She would tell us about how the windows were all covered up with newspapers to prevent light getting out during an air raid and how the street lights were all covered up from the top so that the lights would not show up skywards. There were also air raid shelters dug up in our locality and all the people would rush to them once the air raid siren would set off.
Continue reading “Japanese Air Raids on Kolkata during WWII”
Why are these songs so slow and sound so sad I asked my father, he was listening to the newly purchased double cassette album which was a collection of Ghazals sung by Jagjit Singh. He was so deeply engrossed that he almost missed my question and only on my second attempt did he reply that these were a collection of Ghalib. For years I had imagined Mirza Ghalib to be the one featured on the cassette cover which later when I grew up realized that it was, in reality, the photo of the actor Nasiruddin Shah. Little did I realize that one day I would roam around the streets of old Delhi and Kolkata just to trace Ghalib.
It all started during a recent trip to New Delhi and since I am working with a book retailing company I am privileged to be surrounded by books and literature lovers all the time. My visit to Delhi was nearly after a five-year gap thus there was lot to catch up when meeting old friends and one of them was Vijay Kumar Sharma who has been a regular follower of my blogs and travel tales. During one of our conversations, I had mentioned to him that somewhere I had read that the house of Mirza Ghalib was very near to Connaught Place. Next day he presented me with a book which talked about forgotten heritage places around Delhi and in there was a mention about Ballimaran (Gali Qasim Jan) which was quite near to Chawri Bazar Metro station. This place was just three metro stops from Connaught Place and during a weekend managed to track this place.
Continue reading “When Mirza Ghalib Came To Kolkata”