You are on page 1of 1

The Place where dim sum meets Curry. (The Devils hot curry, that is.

Within the city of Kolkata there lies a little place which is clearly a true
slice of the fabled Far East, now simply regarded as its Chinatown. This is
where dim sum and noodles are dished out next to other eateries serving
curry and Briyani and its here that women dressed in blouses and trousers
with a distinctly Oriental flair walk next to others adorned in sari or salwar
kameeze. Its also a place where surnames like Yang, Su and Wong are seen
alongside those of Bose, Mukerjee and Chatterjee.
In an old area concentrated around crowded Bentinck Street, a place named
after an early governor-general and visited by the likes of both Mark Twain
and Rudyard Kipling, a Chinese shoemaker with a name like Tay Chang
sells handmade footwear crafted from leather that was tanned elsewhere in
Nearby, a merchant named Chen sells silk that may have been made in
India but definiitely had its origins in China.
It is probable that Chinese silk was introduced into India in the second half
of the first millennium BC, most likely the beginning of the China-India
connection. Over the centuries, trade grew to such an extent that during
his travels through coastal China at the end of the 13th century, Marco Polo
commented on a great resort of ships and merchandise from India.
Despite such contacts, the Chinese did not begin to settle in India until well
after the arrival of the British which dated to the early 1600s with the
formation of the British East India company.
An early employee of the company, Job Charnock, is not only credited with
setting up a trading post and industrial base on the banks of the Hooghly
River in 1690; in effect, he founded Calcutta (Kolkata) and was the first
governor of the fledgling trading settlement.
It was during the administration of Warren Hastings as governor-general
of Bengal from 1774 to 1785, that Calcutta not only became the capital of
the British Raj but the first Chinese workers were brought into India. Two