101 Traces: The last Anglo-Indian Jockeys of Kolkata
The Anglo-Indian community has been upholding the legacy of horse racing in Kolkata. But many members of the younger generation have moved on to other careers in other countries, following better prospects. Will the next generation of Anglo-Indians in Kolkata continue the family tradition? Only time will tell.
When most people look at Monica Liu, they see a smiling restaurant owner in Tangra, Kolkata. But this unassuming grandmother of nine is also known as the Don of Chinatown. Thanks to her, Calcuttans know what Chinese food made by Chinese people tastes like. But Kolkata's woman of steel comes from humble beginnings. During the Indo-China war in 1962, when Monica was just a child, her entire family was arrested and taken to Deoli Camp, Rajasthan. Finally, it was when Monica and another young boy in the camp wrote a letter to the Home Minister, that their release orders were processed. Starting a new life, Monica's mother would make momos to sell to make ends meet. It was from helping her mother every evening that Monica's journey began. Finally, in 1991, she opened Kim Ling, the family's first restaurant. When goons tried to intimidate the family into giving them free food, Monica responded in kind, eventually earning her the title 'Don of Tangra'.
Rejected by American soldiers in WW1, it's now home to this dwindling community in the city. The Bow Barracks was a garrison's mess built for the American army soldiers posted in India during World War I. Back then, the US army soldiers thought it beneath them to stay in such housing. The apartments were handed over instead to the thriving Anglo-Indian community, who have held onto them ever since. Located in central Kolkata, just behind the Bowbazaar police station, it is currently home to over 80 Anglo-Indian families, along with several Anglo-Chinese families too. Over the course of the last 50 years, members of the community have been moving out from Kolkata to places like Australia and the United States. Today, Bow Barracks is a community trying to hold on to its identity as the world moves on.
101 Dinner With Dons: Ramesh Singh Sikarwar, don of Chambal, talks about the secret lives of dacoits over a meal
The Chambal Valley, located in the northern part of Madhya Pradesh, on the border of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh is infamous for gangs of dacoits. In the 70s and 80s, one of the most dreaded of those dacoits was Ramesh Singh Sikarwar. With a band of dacoits, he held sway over the region for years, before surrendering to the authorities. After serving his time, he now lives the life of a farmer, raising a family. A very sick Doctor VC pays Sikarwar a visit in his village, to learn about the secret life of the bandits, while joining them for a meal in their old jungle hideout. Loaded onto a tractor and taken deep into the dense jungle, with no mobile network or way to let people know where he is, Doctor VC learns not just about the eating habits of the daakus, but also comes home with moral lessons from the gang's leader.
Inspired by Bollywood superstar Sanjay Dutt, Salim 'Chopper' became Salim Bhai, when the violence and strife he grew up in left him no choice but to become a don. Taking us to his favourite restaurants, Salim Bhai shows us local foods that tickle his taste buds on 101 Dinner With The Dons, India's edgiest food show.
Kolkata's Chinatown was once home to a thriving community of over 20,000 ethnically Chinese Indian nationals. That number is now estimated to be as low as 2,000. Most of the inhabitants' ancestors moved to Kolkata in the early 20th century, setting up shops and businesses for families of Chinese origin. But of late, the younger generation of the community has been looking to move out of Chinatown, looking for better prospects and standards of living in countries like USA, UK, Australia and Canada. Does this spell the end for the once-bustling Chinatown in Kolkata?
101 Dinner with Dons: A meal with Dindigul's MK Tevar is like an episode of Breaking Bad, the Biryani edition
Some say Dindigul is the murder capital of Tamil Nadu. It's no wonder it's home to people like MK Tevar — a local don who has played many roles in his life. From selling lottery tickets, to working at hotels, and even working as an electrician, Mr. Tevar talks about how going to jail actually exposed him to more criminals and 'rowdies'. This is what made him join a life of crime. But like most people in his line of work, what the don really has a passion for, is food.
Sarah Aunty is one of the last 'Malabar Jews', as the Jewish people from Kochi are also known. The 95-year-old's world famous store, Sarah Cohen's Hand Embroidery, sells Jewish specialty items in 'Jew Town', Mattancherry in Kerala. Her Muslim caretaker, Thaha Ibrahim, shares a touching relationship with her. He fondly remembers the glory days of Jew Town, when both sides of the street were home to members of the Jewish community.
101 Traces: The owner of the Great Golden Circus talks about its glory days and the bleak future of the circus
Anwar Khan of the Great Golden Circus talks about its glory days, and the bleak future of the circus. His circus has a massive set up, spanning multiple tents and acts. While it used to boast of crowds of almost 2000 people per show, and four shows per day, it's facing a bleak future now. With his better shows seeing an audience of only around 100 people, Anwar fears that the days of the circus are numbered.
The era of the singing fakir announcing the 'sehri' during Ramzan may be over. Where a decade ago, there were over 100 fakirs in Kolkata, today, Mohammed Sabbir is just one of the handful left. Waking at 1 AM every day during Ramzan, he wanders the streets, singing to wake people up for the sehri or morning prayer. These days, mosques also announce the morning prayer, rendering the fakir's job defunct. For generations, Mohammed Sabbir's family has performed this duty, not for money, but as a good deed.