Public memory is being increasingly recognized as a powerful tool in the construction of the past, through remembrances not only of events but of people, of attitudes, of feelings, of ways of life, of traditions and trends that remain hidden from the history books. In course of time we hope to create an Oral History Archive, a repository of audio and video interviews of ordinary men and women, both literate and illiterate, recollections of minorities, of subcultures and the subaltern, memories of unique life experiences that help us eavesdrop into a time that would otherwise have been lost forever.
MEMORIES (College Street)
“Few paved roads in the world are so steeped in the history of a nation as this one [College Street], a repository of much of India’s intellectual and artistic legacy over the past two centuries.”
– Krittivas Mukherjee, The Straits Times, 06 May 2013
Not many people who visit the legendary Coffee House in Kolkata are aware of the rich history of Albert Hall, the building it sits in. Built in 1876, it was was named after Prince Albert Victor of Wales, Duke of Clarence and Avondale. It is, historically, a very significant building as the first session of the Indian National Conference was held here in1883, a meeting that later led to the founding of the Indian National Congress in Bombay in 1885. Subhas Chandra Bose too held many of his political meetings here in the 1930s.
Not many customers who walk into Favourite Cabin these days are aware of the history of this humble tea and toast shop.
Table No. 4 at College Street’s ‘Favourite Cabin’ (pronounced Pheybarit Kay-been) was poet Nazrul Islam’s regular haunt where Subhash Bose, Surya Sen and other swadeshis would drop by to be inspired by the revolutionary poet. Many anti-British plots were hatched in the secret back room. The owners would warn the revolutionaries whenever the police were nearby and they would escape through a back door.
The Cha Project hopes to bring out the history of College Street through plaques, heritage trails, restoration etc.
A similar preservation of history will be undertaken in Chinatown as well.
PROPOSED HERITAGE TRAIL IN OLD CHINATOWN
PROPOSED HERITAGE CENTRE (The image below is merely is a vision of the possibilities, not an actual rendering)
1. We are looking for vignettes that give a sense of life in Calcutta, preferably personal memories, and not analytical pieces
2. These memories could be either (a) tangible and (b) intangible.
Tangibles include records of daily life and could be
i) Informal (like letters, diaries, maybe a recipe or a shopping list)
ii) Formal (like an official property deed, or a graduation certificate)
iii) Visual records (like photographs, posters, handbills etc)
iv) Collectibles (like artifacts, a unique piece of clothing, objects that are cannot easily be found today, etc)
3. All submissions will be fact checked and edited.
4. All submissions must be sent with full name, address, contact number and e-mail ID of sender. If you do not wish your name to be included, please mention specifically.
5. Submission automatically implies permission to use on our website, in our archives, and in any printed material that we might publish.
6. We accept all standard formats – JPEG, Word doc, PDF, MP4, MP3. For submissions and enquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org