‘Meet the Kabuliwalas of Kolkata’

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06/05/2017 by Julia van der Doesch

Since pre- colonial times, Kolkata has been home to an eclectic mix of people who came to the city as traders and businessmen.

One of these were the Afghans. Long before Rabindranath Tagore made ‘Kabuliwala’ a familiar term in popular culture, the Afghans had already set firms roots in the country, as early as the 18th century. They came selling spices, fruits and attar and also functioned as money lenders. Today, there are almost 5000 Afghans in Kolkata. Commemorating the 125th year of Tagore’s publication of the short story, Kabuliwala, we travel to the city looking for the the Afghans of today, trying to portray their life in the city where Kabuliwalas have always been a bit of a romantic figure, thanks largely to Tagore’s story.

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