Public Government Issued Notice
(Beware: Dangerous building)
Kolkata’s innumerable century old buildings, stand in a state of photogenic ruin. This is a board outside a dilapidated building right next to the heritage The Lalit Great Eastern Hotel. Like many others in Kolkata, this too has been marked unsafe.
Iron Gates of the Currency Building
The Currency Building off Dalhousie Square was once the office of issue & exchange of Government paper currency. It’s large floral patterned, wrought iron gates were brought all the way from England just to add weight to ships as they couldn’t sail empty.
Memorial Plaques: Magen David Synagogue
These are memorial plaques seen on either side of the doorway of the Magen David Synagogue, located at the intersection of Brabourne road and Canning Street. These plaques are in honour of the city’s notable Jews, a community of less than 100 today.
Marwari Shop Front: Armenian Street
The Armenian Street in Burrabazaar is named after the Armenian immigrants who were among the first trading communities in Kolkata. The largest wholesale market in India, it houses merchants belonging to various communities like the Marwaris, originally from Rajasthan.
Community Notice Board: Bow Barracks
Located in the heart of the city, Bow Barracks is home to a small group of Anglo Indians, who domiciled once the British soldiers left. See Bottom: The public community notice board, an initiative of the Bow United Organisation, an association of the families which live there.
Chalk Patterns: Parsi Temple
Near Bow Barracks on Metcalfe Street is the Anjuman Atash Adaran – Kolkata’s only Parsi agiyari, established in 1912. The entrance of the agiyari or ‘fire temple’ is decorated with chalk patterns, a tradition borrowed by the Zoroastrians from the Hindus and modified to accommodate traditional motifs like that of the sacred fire, as seen here.
Hand Painted Wall Sign
This hand painted wall sign for a restaurant can be seen walking from Bowbazaar to Tiretta Bazaar, which is Kolkata’s Old Chinatown. The Hakka Chinese immigrants worked in the tanneries, a job considered taboo for upper caste Hindus. Note the fading ‘No Pork, No Beef’ sign, almost symbolizing quintessential Indo-Chinese cuisine, thought to have originated in Kolkata.
Door front: Metcalfe Street, Tiretta Bazaar
India’s only Chinatown, constitutes two localities–Tiretta Bazaar (Old Chinatown and considered the first habitation) and Tangra (New Chinatown). This home, with faded Chinese characters on its facade, seems like a reminder of the city’s dwindling ethnic Chinese Indian community.
This work was published in the Coldnoon Cities (Mapping the Metropolis) Vol II, as part of the Coldnoon journal.