Calcutta in the 1800 and early 1900 was like the Shanghai and Singapore combined together. It was a major trading hub and people of the world came to this city for trade and commerce. Kolkata once had a significant Chinese population and even though it has drastically decreased over the years its presence still is very much felt across the city.Continue reading “Chinese New Year in Kolkata”
One of the aspects of being a blogger from India is that you will inevitably get many phone calls from readers and many of them not necessarily be knowing the subject matter with which to converse with you. I have received calls from readers who actually wanted to install an electric crematorium in their village in some remote corner of Bangladesh and after reading my blog on Christian Gas Crematorium of Calcutta they assumed me to be a gas crematorium supplier. The best would be people mistaking me as a food truck manufacturer after reading my blog on food trucks in the city. I am assuming that they don’t read the blog in full and just after reading the name of the blog they search for my contact details to get in touch with me.
The same however has actually been very productive for my blog on Lion Dance and on Graffiti in the city. In both cases, I have been able to help the person whom I had written the blog get some contracts which in return has made me get very close to them and thus a different bond of friendship have developed over the years.
I still remember the day I got a call from BBC Worldwide Entertainment on behalf of Colors TV for a reality show named India Banega Manch. This television show will involve multiple cities where some teams will perform cultural activities from the city and depending on the response of the audience the teams will be voted to the next level. For my city of Kolkata, the television channel wanted Lion Dance team to perform during their auditions in Kolkata. Apparently, they had read my blog and wanted to feature them for my city since Kolkata is having such a diversity of culture Lion Dance will fit perfectly.
Chapter 1 – The Match Box
1925, Calcutta, somewhere in China Town renowned for its leather boots and wood works the shops often hid the real business that went on beyond its façade, it’s actually opium that ruled this part of the city. Smuggled from China these opium entered the streets of Calcutta through the narrow lanes of old China Town.
My great grandfather Mr John Solomon was a Daroga (Inspector) in the Excise Department which was at that time an integral part of the British India Calcutta Police. The British Government wanted to stop the infiltration of illegal opium in to the country as it was seriously hurting the revenue whereas the Chinese Opium traders were using the wealth of the rising upper middle class Bengalis or the Babus who often got lured into opium addiction.