When I heard there was a Chinatown in Kolkata, images of busy streets, narrow alleys, neon signs, and bright red lanterns — like the Chinatown in San Francisco –came to mind. What we found in Kolkata, however, were dull grey buildings with fading signs, virtually empty streets and just a few pedestrians – so contrary not only to my mental images of what a Chinatown might be, but also so different from the crazy busy streets of Kolkata. Perhaps it was the time of day, or the day itself. Or perhaps this neighborhood really has been that transformed by the 2002 Supreme Court order that closed 250 of the 538 tanneries in the area in order to control pollution.
The neighborhood was so empty that my travel mates wanted to quickly move along to some other area. Before we did, however, I managed to sneak into one of the few remaining tanneries to snap a couple shots.