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”
The day started real early, even though it was a Sunday the work at home was no less. It started with a heritage walk at around 7.30 in the morning followed by other engagements and finally it came to Jane’s Walk. By now I was really tired but I somehow convinced myself to push on for the day as I knew it would be something really different.
The walk on this evening the 8th of May 2016 was in memory of Jane Jacobs. Before we go any further it’s important to get some details about her and why was this walk dedicated to her. Jane Jacobs (1916 – 2006) was a very famous Canadian / American journalist but apart from this, she was an activist. Throughout her life, she fought for the life of a neighbourhood. She believed in the essence of every neighbourhood and its own uniqueness that it holds on its own along with its people.
Continue reading “Janes Walk Kolkata”
My phone rings, with no name displaying I was sure that it was from a tele marketing firm, reluctantly I pick up the phone, after few seconds of initial silence I hear a voice, barely able to understand anything I ask the caller to please speak louder, after a brief pause I hear “Kya Aap Kaal Ayengay” will you come tomorrow? Still not being able to figure anything I ask for the name of the caller, I get the reply “VEN RU JIAN”, its then that I realise that she is the nun from Fo Kuang Shan Buddhist Centre Kolkata, this is the same Buddhist temple where I had been on 2nd of October this year along with Sumit Surai and Indrajit Das.
Continue reading “Elder’s Day in Chinatown”
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.
Continue reading “Opium War & Leather Boots – Calcutta’s China Town”