Chapter Seven: Shanghai

 

If China and France were to have a child, but at an early age France walked out on the family and left China to raise it on its own, you’d be talking about modern Shanghai. Of course, China had a large impact on the little one as it grew up, but you can still still see some of France in it. In fact, one might even say that Shanghai takes inspiration from its half-sibling, Paris. But Shanghai will always be Chinese, and that’s what makes it Shanghai. (Please don’t take this so literally—it’s the only way I can sufficiently describe the bizarre European influence in this very Chinese place. The combination of the video and audio in the attached file will help you understand my confusion).

 

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I thought Shenzhen was hot, but that was nothing compared to the unbearable torch that is Shanghai in July. Luckily it isn’t as humid, but it still makes being outdoors difficult, if not dangerous. Jordenn and I have basically ditched wandering for meticulously planned ventures to avoid exhaustion. Given the conditions, however, I would say we’ve seen quite a lot.

We’re staying in a non-touristy residential area where we find comfort in people’s lack of interest in our general presence. There are far more international residents and visitors in the city of Shanghai, but it still is nowhere near the classification of ‘diverse.’

In the beginning of our stay, we couldn’t help but celebrate Shanghai’s wonderful overall improvement in condition compared to much of Shenzhen: streets are cleaner, sanitation and personal hygiene seem more developed, and its just got an overall better vibe—at least to the two of us.

Just as we were settling into our new temporary city and coming to the conclusion that Shenzhen might just be the ‘enfant terrible’ of China, we witnessed something both bewildering and disturbing. While waiting for the Metro, a young mother and her little boy—likely around 5 or 6—were seen at the end of the staircase performing an act like no other. Facing a corner, but nowhere near the wall, this little boy was allowed to do what he seemingly couldn’t wait to do while the mother waited, entirely unbothered. He urinated at the bottom of a public staircase, in the early evening with people all around. My jaw dropped.

What I can’t seem to settle is whether or not its more concerning that the boy did it, the mother allowed it, or that everyone stood by as if nothing was happening. No one batted an eye. Is it taboo to acknowledge such behavior? Is ignoring it a form of disapproval? I really don’t know what I’m dealing with here.

So, as much as we hoped and found that Shanghai was drastically different, we started to see how it really wasn’t. In the states we say ‘boys will be boys,’ (which is problematic, but besides the point), but I guess here it’s just that China will be China.

While exploring the former residential neighborhood turned SoHo-esque shopping area of Xintiandi, we found another striking similarity to Shenzhen here in Shanghai. Beyond the fact that its been developed for purposes of consumption, which SZN has seen a lot of, Xintiandi also presents an interesting case study for urban living. Hidden behind the street-front shops are small “villages” jam-packed with two, maybe three, story dwellings and vibrant signs of daily life.

Though these areas are much cleaner and not quite as dense as SZN’s “urban villages,” these residential nooks set amongst Shanghai’s finest shopping centers just go to show how the two cities and their ways of growth may not be all that different.

 

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Chapter Six: Onward

 

The other day Jordenn and I had the fortunate opportunity of meeting up with a fellow Parsons student in his home city of Hong Kong. He took us around some of his favorite spots to give us a taste of what China felt like across the border. Wow—leaving mainland was a huge wake-up call for us here in Shenzhen, and we learned a lot.

Hong Kong is what it might be like if someone were to put New York in a snow globe, shake up all of its buildings and streets, and then set it back down. There also might be a San Francisco hybrid somewhere in there, too, but I only say that because of Hong Kong’s intense topography and bayside vibe (something New York sort of has, but certainly doesn’t take advantage of in the way HK does).

During a late-lunch in one of the city’s most historic teahouses, we probed our friend on his thoughts of Shenzhen. He didn’t have much to say other than that the city was an afterthought—a pitstop on the way to Guangzhou where people have no sense of hygiene (and often use the street as their restroom). He then compared Hong Kong and Shenzhen to New York and Jersey City.

As soon as Jordenn and I returned to Shenzhen, we began to see things in a dramatic new light. As soon as we got off the train entering mainland China, cab drivers hungry for a hefty fare started yelling, “Guangzhou! Guangzhou! We take you to Guangzhou!” What about a taxi to get someplace in Shenzhen? Clearly not a popular choice.

Shenzhen is dirty and the urban villages are even dirtier, sometimes to the point of hazard. Hong Kong literally smells good. I think they perfume the Metro. Shenzhen makes me hold my breath at times. In fact, while walking through Shenzhen we have seen four different children being held in a squat position by their parents as they do their business in the street. Hong Kong has fences around the sidewalk that prevent people from merely crossing illegally, let alone defecating into the sewer drain. I could go on, but you likely get the point.

When I think of all of this, I can’t help but recall the first thought I had when hearing about how terrible our friend thought Shenzhen was: these are twenty million people you are dismissing. Each day in this city has only gotten more difficult, though. Its far less accommodating to foreigners, offers nearly no menu to an easy-going vegetarian (Jordenn) or just someone picky about their meat (me), and has hardly any sense of culture, music, art, etc. besides the OCT Loft—an isolated community of creatives.

As unique of a case study for on-demand urban growth as Shenzhen has been, it’s still sort of sleepy. To revise our friend’s analogy: if Hong Kong were Manhattan, Shenzhen might be Staten Island (a fitting comparison when considering that, I, a Manhattanite, have only taken the ferry over to the outer-borough just to jump right back on as a cheap way to see the New York harbor—similar to how our friend says that Shenzhen is a pit-stop on the way to Guangzhou).

With all this being said, Jordenn and I are glad to have witnessed the phenomenon that is Shenzhen, but are much more excited to explore what the rest of mainland China has to offer. Our next destination is Shanghai, where we will experience China’s most historical example of capitalist urbanization and attempt to achieve a small understanding of what daily life is like for its inhabitants, in comparison to Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

The other day Jordenn and I saw a shanzhai version of a Dippin’ Dot’s stand. Remember that fun beaded form that ice cream took on for a few years in the early 2000’s, when the short-lived brand claimed they were the future of frozen dairy treats? I haven’t seen them since childhood, but in Shenzhen they were still being sold (under a different name, of course). I voiced to Jordenn how interesting it was that Dippin’ Dots had such confidence that they were the future, but then basically went out of business just a few short years later.

When returning to Shenzhen from Hong Kong, we walked through the Metro and I couldn’t help but wonder if this was it for Shenzhen. Is this its golden era? Is it only downhill from here, contrary to its reputation for unprecedented growth? I thought out loud to Jordenn for a moment before he replied, “Maybe the city will be like Dippin’ Dots…maybe in a few years it’ll just fizzle out.” There’s really no telling what will happen, but even if the world isn’t watching, we sure will be.

Onward.

 

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Qutub Minar – Islam and Hinduism

I started exploring New Delhi by visiting the Qutb Complex located in the south of Delhi. The Qutub Minar was built as the marker of Muslims’ victory in the fourteenth century, and the complex included the tower for saying the prayer right next to the main corridor enclosing the outdoor prayer area. During the following years, the tower and the complex was reconstructed and completed by upcoming sultans and expanded first three times of its initial size and then 10 times. During the following centuries, the complex have been destructed by natural causes like earthquakes and lightning and hence the ruins today that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage.

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The tower itself was built during different times and by different sultans, hence there is a difference in each story of the Minar (curved or cornered). Unfortunately, only recently going up the tower has been prohibited due to the delicate stairways inside the tower.

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This complex is considered one of the first Islamic structures in India and controversially, the stones used to make the columns of the corridor are recycled from the destroyed Hindu temples. Definitely it had been very arguable to do so when Islamic Mamluk Dynasty defeated the state at the time (1192), which reminded me of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul that functioned both as an Islamic mosque and a cathedral before it opened as a museum in 1935. Similarly, the Qutb Complex is now considered a heritage site and has no function rather than for tourism.  

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In the central prayer hall, sits two sets of tombstones and the Iron pillar of Delhi.

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Since the chief Imams were powerful and spiritual sufis, they became the religious preachers for the whole Islam in India. Sultans impressed with their miracolous powers, ordered their bodies to be buried in the mosque. I think the influences of Hinduism on Islam and development of Sufism is very interesting in the sense of how and when these religions were developed in different regions across the Middle East and South Asia. Also, urdu language being there with arabic for Islam and having its roots in Persian letters, creates a tension between saying the prayer in arabic yet reading the translations in Hindu or Ordu languages.

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In the central mosque area, also sits the Iron Pillar of Delhi, protected by a fence since 1997. The iron pillar was known to be a gift from the gods due to its material complexion and resistance to rust during the centuries. Miraculous power of gods existed in the iron pillar and those who were physically able to meet their hands when hugging the pillar from their back, were lucky enough to have all their desires fulfilled by the gods. Although this pillar and its tradition was derived from Hindu religion, Muslims embraced having it in the mosque and visitors from all over with any religions strongly believed in it. The tour guy that I was talking to mentioned that only one person in one million people can reach his hands from his back, and only one in 1000 people can reach it from the front. Despite of the pillar’s resistance to rust and erosion, there’s a visible lighter mark on the pillar where people had reached hands over the years. The sweat reacting with the iron caused the difference in color and hence it is now preserved by a fence.

 

The co-existence of different religions and how they adapted one another for stronger means of faith is fascinating. 

Arrival at New Delhi – Hauz Khas Village

 

Last night at 9 pm, I finally landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. I was very nervous about getting off the plane, finding a taxi, and then finding the place I’m staying at Hauz Khas Village. Since I’m traveling alone, I was looking for a place in south Delhi, which seems to the safer area and I ended up at Hauz Khas Village, for its rich history, structure, and interesting development, which I’ll discuss in a bit.

After waiting for an Uber for 20 minutes and having no results, I got a pre-paid taxi and paid 400₹ for my destination. Need to mention that Uberpool offered 239₹ for the same journey, and a guy behind one of the taxi stands told me it’d take 1500₹. The development of Uber, Ola cabs, and other taxi services indeed have left a major effect on the dynamics of the transportation and tourism specifically. 

Driving on the left-hand traffic is very strange to me; however, I’m used to the chaotic driving cars, the contestant sounds of horns, and pedestrian in the middle of the streets. The highways and the structure of the city too are very nostalgic to Tehran for me. When arriving to Hauz Khas Village, the fabric of the city drastically changes, by first having a one lane road, and then a huge parking since no cars are allowed in the village. The streets of the village are very narrow and once in awhile a loud horn followed by a motorcycle passes by and disrupts the cheerful young pedestrians. On the street level, there are clothing boutiques, jewelry stores, and art galleries, and on the upper levels which mostly go up to fourth and fifth floors, there are restaurants and cafes. The dynamic of the village screams how newly developed it is.

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On the first day after walking around the Hauz Khas village, I noticed that the outer margins of the village are mainly dedicated to the local people living in the village and some resources for them to sustain their daily life. However, the core of the village serves the outsiders and tourists, as the village has developed into one of the centers of boutiques and restaurants in New Delhi. From traditional Indian clothing designers to Starbucks and local cafes, and universities such as Indian Institute of Technology and the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Hauz Khas village offers a lot to its visitors.

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Hauz Khas complex was at first a water storage project that was constructed during the thirteenth century and provided the neighborhood with water when out of rainy seasons. A century passed by with no proper maintenance and lead to the restoration of the tank by Feroz Shah Tughlaq, naming it the Royal Tank or Hauz Khas (حوض خاص). Feroz Shah also constructed the Madrasa (institution of higher education), which gave generous stipends to its attendants from far and wide and overviewed the expand of water. Hauz Khas word by word in Urdu (and Farsi too) means Royal Tank. A small mosque, as well as Feroz Shah’s tombstone were build around the complex. When I was walking around the complex today, I noticed that a lot of couples and friend meet here to talk and enjoy each other’s company.

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Today, Hauz Khas village has been highly developed gentrified. Along with the contrast between the ruins and new structures, there is a concern in how the trendy restaurants dump their waste in the greenery of the complex. In 2014, Pankaj Sharma, the environmental activist was able to close down 30-40 of the eateries in Hauz Khas for their lack of waste management. Due to the sudden development and mushrooming of Hauz Khas, the restaurants did not have legal regulations for discarding their wastes. Due to Sharma and his nonprofit, the Centre for Transforming India, National Green Tribunal of India either closed the restaurants with unnecessary waste pollution, or imposed firm sustainable regulation on them for maintaining the green neighborhood.

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Chapter Five: Zooming In

 

At this point in our trip, we’re truly starting to understand Shenzhen beyond the preliminary research we conducted before arriving—although I find it hard to believe that anyone could ever fully comprehend the nuances of daily life in a city of this size. I guess it’s less that we’re understanding the city and moreso just finally putting an experience to what we’ve read, especially with regards to the duality between the urban villages and the city ‘proper.’ Our main takeaway thus far is that the villages offer a very different form of urban life than what the city officials or developers have to offer—and at a much cheaper price. The villages are often vibrant and bustling areas of the city, whereas many of the planned neighborhoods we’ve been to have offered a generic, boring city experience (the kind we see popping up in urban areas all over the world: desolate concrete plazas designed with sporadic ‘green space,’ streets made for driving rather than walking, etc.). The urban villages also embody a greater spirit of “the right to the city.” With that being said, however, the informal areas of Shenzhen are often quite filthy and overcrowded and pose major health and safety hazards (i.e. fire hazards with electrical wiring, close proximity of handshakes could be unsafe, the conditions for food preparation are seriously dangerous, etc.). What we’re learning above all else is that everything is up for discussion and that we’re quite truly unbiased towards either form of Shenzhen urbanism.

We have now visited five very unique urban villages—Old Hubei Village, Baishizhou, Gangxia, Wutongshan and Dalang. All but Wutongshan were independent adventures—on that day we joined Mary Ann O’Donnell’s husband, Yang, and his friends in examining the artistic haven that this mountain community has become. In addition, after seeing Baishizhou a few times for ourselves, we were guided through the area by a few members of Handshake 302, a grassroots organization bringing to light issues of Shenzhen development through art and design practices. *Side note: besides creating our own video compilation of our journey, Jordenn and I have also decided to share our video footage with Mary Ann O’Donnell and the other members of Handshake 302 to be included in their ongoing Crowdsourced Documentary of Baishizhou project.

Of them all, the two urban villages I have found most interesting were Baishizhou and Gangxia. We focused much of our video work on these areas because, unlike the main plazas of Shenzhen’s newer developments, the energy in these spaces commanded us to keep shooting. I rarely desire to even take a single still photograph in some parts of the city—a subconscious decision we have since been very observant towards.

For some insight into these two areas, here are some word pairings to describe their notable differences, along with a fascinating photo juxtaposition of their respective entrances:

 

Baishizhou Gangxia
Larger Cleaner
Chaotic Busy
Energy Rhythm
Laissez-faire Orderly
No-collar White-collar
Moving onward Moving upward
Ultra-dense Super-dense

 

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The entrance to Baishizhou village.

 

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The entrance to Gangxia village.

 

 

 

From Tangra back to Tiretta Bazaar’s Chinatown

The Chinese street market in Kolkata is nowadays a Lonely Planet guide’s tourist attraction. It starts very early in the morning, and everything is packed before shops open – except for Sundays when it lasts longer. (But only on weekdays you can find open the Hip Hap shop, also mentioned in the tourist guide book, and discover the Chinese medicine products of its owner Stella Chen, who features in Rafeeq Ellias’ The Legend of Fat Mama.)

Chinese street market around Tiretta Bazaar street © Douglas de Toledo Piza

Chinese street market around Tiretta Bazaar street © Douglas de Toledo Piza

In my last post I focused on Tangra, but as I mentioned before, there are other Chinatowns in Kolkata. Today’s topic is Tiretta Bazaar’s Chinatown. This area still functions as the hub for many Indians of Cantonese origin. It is part of Kolkata’s Old Chinatown, though the Chinese Indians like to refer to the few blocks away Old Chinatown Street as “there.”

Near both streets there are many “Chinese churches.” No interviewee seemed to be happy with calling the Buddhist or Hindu temples “churches,” but no one could explain the reasons for this apparent mistranslation. In any case, the Chinese Indians see the temples as both religious and social venues, often referring to them as “clubs.”

Sea Ip Church © Douglas de Toledo Piza

Sea Ip Church © Douglas de Toledo Piza

Just around the corner from the street market on Tiretta Bazaar, is the Sea Ip Church. Couple blocks from there is the Nam Soon Church which congregates many Indians of Cantonese origin. On the way between the two is the Sea Voi Yune Leong Futh Church, and in the floor above the old Hupeinese Association.

Nam Soon Church © Douglas de Toledo Piza

Nam Soon Church © Douglas de Toledo Piza

Hupeinese Association above, Sea Voi Yune Leong Futh Church below © Douglas de Toledo Piza

Hupeinese Association above, Sea Voi Yune Leong Futh Church below © Douglas de Toledo Piza

 

ISRO: on resourceful science


June 22nd 2016, yet another great day for ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organization. At around 9:25AM in Sriharikota, 100km North of Chennai, the final commands were given in English. “Nine, eight, seven, six,” rows of frozen-focused scientists were monitoring the launch that would put twenty satellites into orbit in only one mission – a record-breaking event. “Five, four, three,” clients from the US, Canada, Germany, and Indonesia sat behind glass walls in the back of the room, expectantly waiting. “Two, one,” I sipped my coffee in the comforts of my airbnb in Bangalore as I watched the lift-off on my laptop. It was the 36th flight of the Polar Solar Launch Vehicle, a rocket known for its affordable reliability and whose history I had the pleasure of learning about from one of its creators, Professor Rajaram Nagappa.

Few are the space programs that started as civilian enterprises and ISRO is one of them. “I think that’s something really distinctive about the Indian program,” Professor Nagappa stressed, “that’s why it is an exception.” When it was established in the early 1960s, the idea of having a self-reliant system of communications and remote sensing satellites that could help building the nation through TV broadcasting and surveying of natural resources would have sounded like a distant dream. Thumba in South Kerala had been a place for international cooperation around rocket science – with French, American, British, and Russian rockets being frequently launched from there – but it would take more than equatorial proximity to put together a national space program.

Over the course of the next three decades, rocket research in India proceeded firmly but experimentally in the initial stages, almost improvisationally, with flexible deadlines and demands, and always on a tight budget. The story is intricate and it involved many dedicated scientists like Professor Nagappa, as well as “committed leadership and a sense to achieve.” Constrained by scarcity and trade embargoes, ISRO engineers were constantly challenged to substitute imported materials for available, indigenous ones, and they did so by collaborating with local industries that had nothing to do with the space business in the first place – my favorite story being about a match company in Mumbai that became a propellant developer. There were also “free rides” offered by foreign countries in their developmental flights that allowed for the accumulation of know-how despite India’s modest infrastructure – an example being when the French Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales put the Indian satellite APPLE into orbit in 1981. “From these limited opportunities we optimized resources,” Professor Nagappa said with a smile. “ISRO has always been very good at project management. Networking and coordinating was our resourcefulness.”

Today ISRO is well-known for its low-cost achievements. There is an open debate about whether a country with the poverty levels of India should have a space program at all and ISRO’s cost-effectiveness has become an usual argument in its favor. The Mars orbiter Mangalyaan, for instance, became famous for costing almost a tenth of MAVEN, its American counterpart. With fewer ground tests, lower worker costs, and simpler design, the Guardian refers to it as “perhaps the country’s most audacious and successful example of jugaad so far.” And one can say it all goes back to the good old PSLV, the cheap and reliable rocket known among ISRO engineers as their workhorse.

When I asked Professor Nagappa about his proudest moment at ISRO he paused for a second. Memories of one of PSLV’s early flights in the 1990s, when his team was testing the new 100% Indian first-stage motor, came up. I expected a final countdown. For a true expert, however, tension lies not before the lift-off, but after, when the propellant burns and velocity increases and the rocket rises. It takes about one-hundred seconds for the first-stage to burn completely, then the empty motor is ejected and left behind in the air. Professor Nagappa recalled: “yes, those one-hundred seconds seemed like the longest one-hundred seconds we had ever experienced.”

At Professor Nagappa's office

Chapter Four: Exploring the Urban Villages

 

Shenzhen’s urban villages are the foremost example of its citizens claiming their rights to the city—and their rights to produce the city. These uniquely Chinese urban landscapes are essentially small cities within the greater Shenzhen area. Some will define these areas as villages within the city, but that’s not quite sufficient. At 150,000 people, the self-contained urban village of Baishizhou is hardly a village. In terms of population, it’s roughly the equivalent to Kansas City or Rockford, IL.  However, when considering its context—within a city of 20 million people—Baishizhou is more than just a neighborhood, it’s basically a village. Again, for reference, it’s home to about as many people as Battery Park City, Greenwich Village, and SoHo combined.

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Granted, not all of Shenzhen’s urban villages boast such a large population, but the point remains: because of the informal and largely unplanned nature of their buildings and infrastructure, their unprecedented rate of growth, impressive efficiency in housing lower-income communities, and independence from the municipal government, these areas remain to be called the villages in the city. Confusing— I know. For an expanded definition, see fellow ICI grant recipient Darcy Bender’s Urban Villages blog post or Mary Ann O’Donnell’s magnificent blog, Shenzhen Noted.

Our time in Shenzhen thus far has largely been spent wandering these areas with no true destination in mind. Sort of similar to how we found ourselves in Old Hubei Village by total accident, we have attempted to recreate the feeling of arriving at each new urban village by happenstance—meaning, we get off at the respective metro stop and then use our intuition to make our way to the bustling alleyways of places like Gangxia or Baishizhou instead of referencing a map.

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In fact, because the urban villages are so complex and unplanned in structure, there aren’t many resources to help find these places. Maps of the city often represent them as a single gray shape, in the same way that a flat concrete plaza would be portrayed. How telling. On the other hand, if you see a map with a large area of random little rectangles scattered about, you’ve certainly found one!

More observations on individual urban villages to come.

 

Journey to the Mumtaz Mahal

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The journey from New Delhi to the Mumtaz Mahal in Agra is at least five hours. With one pit-stop between those five hours, and early on in the trip, it was hard to sit in one place for that long, but the view made up for it. I’m not talking about views of great mountains and plains, I’m talking about the views of the settlements and villages that we weaved through, the great views of the real India, the living situation and lives of everyone outside the city.

Homes were made from the rubble of previous homes and homes out of straw and wood. There were plenty of them, lined up along both sides of the makeshift highway and construction as the central development project to connect Delhi to Agra took place. Homes were mixed in with markets and little stops for food, goods, and produce. Although their lives differed in the countryside, they lived just like anyone else. They found their own way of living and surviving. At first glance, one might be shocked and in awe of how such settlements thrive and survive, but looking on as the car drove by, one could sense the strength in the communities.

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Everything and anything was used. Arches under bridges became shelter, homes, and businesses for food, barbers, and everything in between. The old collided with the new, there was no separation, bikes and carriages shared the road with cars and autos, animals roamed the street as freely as humans, even herds of cattle and goats stopped both sides of traffic and the honking seemed to have ceased for a moment. There was so much culture out here, in the countryside, in the rural parts of India, even more so than in the city. The city just seemed to be a concentrated version of what I saw.

What I saw on the way to the Mumtaz Mahal outweighed the beauty of the palace itself. I think that too often we forget how beautiful and simple life is that we focus too much on the artificial beauty of monuments and landmarks. You can’t compare the two as they exist in different realms of beauty, but the entire time I was at the Mumtaz Mahal, my mind was fixated on what I would see on the way back.

I’m reminded that there is so much beauty in life and simply in living.

 

Food, business, and more in Tangra

My last post before flying to India was about the Chinese Indian cuisine in New York. Of course after arriving in Kolkata food was also part of my research.

In my first visit to Tangra, I went to a restaurant owned by a Chinese Indian. I didn’t chose it randomly, though I could certainly do so given that there are so many different restaurants in that neighborhood. Rather I was recommended to go there by the owner of New York’s Tangra restaurant.

Chinese Portal in Tangra © Douglas de Toledo Piza

Chinese Portal in Tangra © Douglas de Toledo Piza

The area has been a hub of the Chinese Indian entrepreneurs. There one finds a few tannery shops that remain open, other kinds of leather treatment businesses, and more and more restaurants. Besides, the area is gentrifying fast: lots of new residential and commercial buildings are under construction.

In regards to my research, the most interesting aspect of the recent transformations in Tangra area is this: many tannery owners shut down their establishments to open restaurants. With a small Chinese community, these businesspeople aim at Kolkata residents and tourists.  Except for weekends or Chinese holidays, when more than a few Chinese Indians can be spotted around the tables, clients and staff are mainly comprised of non-Chinese Indians.

But there is more about Chinese food in Tangra than restaurants. India’s well-known Sing Cheung sauce factory has been located there since years – while the Pou Chong sauce factory, one of the sponsors of the Dragon Boat Race, is located in Tiretta Bazaar.

Sing Cheung Sauce Factory © Douglas de Toledo Piza

Sing Cheung Sauce Factory © Douglas de Toledo Piza

And there is more about Chinese culture in Tangra than food. The neighborhood houses the Chinese Kali temple – Kali is a Hindu deity. The Chinese cemetery is also located there. Until recently, a Chinese school there used to offer Indian government-approved middle school education, but nowadays only operates for martial arts and Chinese language classes (the facility is also leased out).

Chinese Kali Mandir (Kali Temple) in Tangra © Douglas de Toledo Piza

Chinese Kali Mandir (Kali Temple) in Tangra © Douglas de Toledo Piza

While it is hard to deny the fact that the community has been decreasing, the newspaper continues to operate – and anyone can enjoy a conversation with the editor and the staff in the mornings. Regardless its size, the resilience of the newspaper is another sign of the community’s strength.

The Overseas Chinese Commerce in India © Douglas de Toledo Piza

The Overseas Chinese Commerce in India © Douglas de Toledo Piza

When I go back to New York, the Chinese Indian food shall have a different taste: with lots of good memories, and with a wider significance.

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