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.
Continue reading “Lion Dance at India Banega Manch”
Every Chinese New Year the city of Kolkata gears up to an extravaganza which can hardly be described with words and can only be witnessed by seeing with your own eyes. This city is lucky to have a good number of Chinese families who call City of Joy their home. Most of us are aware of the many Chinese restaurants, shoe shops, beauty parlour or dry cleaning shops that dot the city streets are managed and run by the Indian Chinese community.
During Chinese New Year the streets around Tangra (New Chinatown) and Tiretti Bazar (Old Chinatown) start resonating to the sounds of drums and the footsteps of the Lion Dancers. Managed by different groups they roam from house to house performing the famous lion dance. Each house hangs a bunch of lettuce leaves at a height which the lions must grab and throw back at the occupants of the house as blessings. The lions in return receive red envelopes with money known as Hong Bao.
Continue reading “Lion Dancers of 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”