Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spring Festival Celebration 2016

"梅花_Méihuā" - ( Plum Blossom ) - SONG & DANCE

"梅花_Méihuā" by Thomas Chen 陈永康 an Indian Chinese singer from Kolkata & Fan dance group.

The song "梅花_Méihuā" in Chinese means a flower called Plum Blossom. It is an extremely famous song sung by Teresa Teng and is loved by all. "梅花_Méihuā" is also the National flower of Taiwan, and one of the very famous flowers in China. Do listen to Thomas Chen’s rendition of this iconic song along with beautiful fan dance choreographed by Thomas himself

Fan Dancers :

1. Sharon Meghani
2. Dennis Chu
3. Doris Chu
4. Vanesa Lan
5. Irene Meghani

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Fa Mulan Keeps Ritual Alive

Feb 09  2016 : The Times of India (Kolkata), page 2

Feisty Girls Keep Chinese Ritual Alive

      Form Dance Group To Usher In New Year As Youths
       Migrate To Other Cities In Search Of Greener Pastures

 When Janice Chen slipped her tiny head into the big groove of a huge lion mask and swayed to drum beats on Monday morning, she knew she had smashed the glass ceiling and roared into a two-century old male domain.

Chinese New Year, the onset of which is believed to bring prosperity to the community , has catapulted 30-odd young Chinese girls belonging to Fa Mulan, the only girl group that performs lion dance at the new-year celebrations, to fame. Named after Chinese legend Hua Mulan, a female warrior who had replaced her father in the army and fought for over a decade, the girls on Monday performed in front of homes, eateries, shops and other Chinese establishments in central Kolkata to ward off bad luck and bring good times.

“It is a great feeling to be the lioness,“ smiled Janice, 20, before her group started from the Seaip Church, nestled in the congested central Kolkata opposite Tiratti Market, where they had been practising dance moves for the past few weeks. “We are as good as the boys. Members of the community are happy when we show up outside their homes and give us goodies. This encourages us,“ said Janice's friend Anette Chen in the group.

The group, dressed in pink T-shirts and blue denims, mounts a drum on a cycle van. Two girls board the van and start beating it. As if on cue, Janice and her friend Anette Chen slip into two giant lion masks and start swaying, sometimes doing martial arts moves. A crowd of more than 100 people follow them through the narrow serpentine lanes witnessing the girls take over what was always a “guy thing“.

 The lion dance has been a male domain since the presence of the Chinese community in the city but it is only very recently that Chinese girls have breached this territory. Members of the community attributed the trend to large-scale migration of Chinese youths from the city for jobs and education. “There are very few young Chinese men left in Kolkata.In most processions, there are people from Nepal and the Anglo-Indian community . The girls have stepped in to carry on the tradition,“ said a senior member of the community . Every performance lasts 10 to 15 mi nutes, after which the group moves onto the next house. Chinese people hang goodies from their windows which the girls lunge with agility and catch.

“Lions are known to bless the homes at the start of the New Year. People in the community were not used to an all-girl troupe coming and blessing the home.But that is changing now,“ said Dominic Lee, who played a big role in forming the all-girl group. Lee is also the founder of the Indo-Chinese Association.

Members of the Chinese community in the city recall that girls started parti cipating in lion dance almost 10 years ago but they were not organised as a group.They would be part of several other groups. Fa Mulan brought the girls together.From beating the drums to dancing the lion to fireworks, the girls are self-sufficient in every aspect of the tradition.

Each Chinese New Year is characterised by one of 12 animals that appear in the Chinese zodiac. This is the year of the `Monkey' and people born in the Year of the Monkey are believed to possess wit, mischief and charm.

Kung Hei Fat Choi (wishing you happiness and prosperity in the New Year).


                                                                                                                                                                              Zeeshan Jawed

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Literary Landscape

A panoramic vision of the Chinese literary landscape across the twentieth century.

Award-winning literary scholar and poet Yunte Huang here gathers together an intimate and authoritative selection of significant works, in outstanding translations, from nearly fifty Chinese writers, that together express a search for the soul of modern China. From the 1912 overthrow of a millennia-long monarchy to the Cultural Revolution, to China’s rise as a global military and economic superpower, the Chinese literary imagination has encompassed an astonishing array of moods and styles―from sublime lyricism to witty surrealism, poignant documentary to the ironic, the transgressive, and the defiant.

Huang provides the requisite context for these revelatory works of fiction, poetry, essays, letters, and speeches in helpful headnotes, chronologies, and brief introductions to the Republican, Revolutionary, and Post-Mao Eras. From Lu Xun’s Call to Arms (1923) to Gao Xinjiang’s Nobel Prize–winning Soul Mountain (1990), this remarkable anthology features writers both known and unknown in its celebration of the versatility of writing. From belles lettres to literary propaganda, from poetic revolution to pulp fiction, The Big Red Book of Modern Chinese Literature is an eye-opening, mesmerizing, and indispensable portrait of China in the tumultuous twentieth century.


Writings From the Mainland in the Long 20th Century

Edited by Yunte Huang

Hardcover February 2016 624 pages
ISBN 978-0-393-23948-5
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

 YUNTE HUANG is a Professor of English at the University of California; he has also taught at Harvard. The author of "Charlie Chan," "Transpacific Imaginations," "Transpacific Displacement," and "CRIBS," Huang, born in China, now lives in Santa Barbara, California.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year marks the first day of the New Year in the Chinese calendar, which differs from the Gregorian calendar. It is also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year. Every year is represented by a zodiac animal sign.

Chinese New Year Day is the new moon day of the first lunar month.2016 Chinese New Year Day is on  February 8, 2016. It is the Year of the Monkey according to Chinese zodiac.

Celebrations traditionally run from the evening preceding the first day, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first calendar month.

Lion Dance Display will be on  31 / 1 / 2016

Welcome to home comers will be on  8 / 2 / 2016 

Thursday, October 15, 2015


October 13, 2015

Travails of Chinese-descent Indians

Stevan Wan, Yin Marsh & Micheal Cheng came down from various parts of the world to participate in the Kolkata programme. Photo: Special Arrangement

 Six-year-old Michael Cheng’s world changed almost overnight as he and his family was picked-up in the middle of the night and dispatched to a “godforsaken” place in south-east Rajasthan.

The family of 13 had a roaring shoe and hotel business in the bustling hill-town, Darjeeling, when they were arrested in the winter of 1962.

The Cheng family was arrested, like many others, as a precautionary measure so that the Chinese-origin Indians could not come in aid of the rival, China, during or after the war of 1962 between the two Asian giants. After more than 50 years, Mr. Cheng – who turned 59 few months ago – is on his way to Darjeeling on Wednesday to see his home town.

Sitting in a tiny but popular eating joint, known for its authentic Cantonese cuisine in central Kolkata, Mr. Cheng explained how a war changes lives. “After 22 months in detention, a lorry with a few security personnel dropped me, my seven brothers, two sisters, parents and step mother there…” he pointed to a turn that leads to a by-lane in the bustling Central Avenue, “…the security chaps cautioned us that every time we go to Darjeeling we have to get our permit-paper stamped.”

In those two years, the Cheng’s business in Darjeeling disappeared and the family started making shoes in Kolkata which they were “forced to sell at Rs. five or 10, ” said Mr. Cheng, who now runs his own restaurant in North Carolina.

Second-class citizens

“What was our fault, why were we displaced from Bengal when I and all my brothers were born in this State, how did the war matter to us…. I do not know but I lost more than two years of schooling and the family lost everything,” said Mr Cheng, who visited the city this week with many Chinese-descent Indians from across the world to mark 50 years of their internment. Mr. Cheng’s father came to Kolkata at the age of 14 in 1924 from Canton or today’s Guangzhou in south China. But after the war the entire family and its neighbours in central Kolkata turned in to “second-class citizens” as they were issued with “citizenship-permits.”

“Eventually all my brothers moved to the United States or Canada as many were born before 1950 and denied Indian citizenship,” Mr. Cheng said. It was not his problem as he was born in the “mid-50s.” But many Chinese-descent people, who were born in Bengal before 1950, are yet to receive their citizenship like half of Cheng family. Thousands like Mr. Cheng were huddled from their homes and sent to Deoli Detention centre at the height of India-China war.

Yin Marsh, who was 13 at the time of internment, has lot of memories of the detention camp. She describes people like her as the “last generation of the survivors of Deoli” and said that this small chapter of vast history of India needs to be told.

Ms. Marsh feels that the Chinese community in Kolkata should be more vocal about the issue. “This would help them gain trust and make them feel safer and better,” said Ms. Marsh, whose book on the subject will soon be published by an Indian publisher.

“Three months after I saluted the national flag and sang the national anthem on August 15, I was arrested on November 19, 1962 and had to stay in detention camp for two years,” said Toronto-based John Liao. Chinese-Indian Association had invited the ‘Indians’ to the city to speak about their experiences of the internment.

“This issue is very close to the heart of the Chinese Indian community. It will soon be forgotten if those who have experienced it does not talk about it,” Bean Ching (Binny) Law, president of Chinese Indian Association told The Hindu. All the detainees in the camp rue the fact that the Indian government still does not acknowledge the detention. Just an apology, even after so many years, they say, would be “very comforting.”

Shiv Sahay Singh
    Suvojit Bagchi

Friday, October 9, 2015

2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine

Tu Youyou, a pharmacologist with the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, working to make artemisinin, a drug therapy for malaria, in 1980s.

China's Tu Youyou, Irish-born William Campbell, and Japan's Satoshi Omura jointly won the 2015 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Tu won half of the prize for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against malaria.

Tu Youyou received 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her discovery of Artemisinin as an alternative malaria cure to the standard chloroquine, which was quickly losing ground in the 1960s due to increasingly drug-resistant parasites. 2015 Nobel Prize has gone to a researcher who spent her entire career researching traditional Chinese medicine, based at the Chinese Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Beijing (now the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences) since 1965 .

Scientific research on the pharmaceutically active properties of traditional Chinese medicinals, however, has never been a predictor for such widespread international recognition.Traditional medical knowledge anywhere in the world has not even been on the radar for Nobel Prize prospects. Until now, that is.

The antifebrile effect of the Chinese herb Artemisia annua (qinghaosu 青蒿素), or sweet wormwood, was known 1,700 years ago. Tu was the first to extract the biologically active component of the herb — called Artemisinin — and clarify how it worked. The result was a paradigm shift in the medical field that allowed for Artemisinin to be both clinically studied and produced on a large scale.

Tu has always maintained that she drew her inspiration from the medical text of a fourth-century Chinese physician and alchemist named Ge Hong 葛洪 (circa 283-343).



Thursday, October 8, 2015

Chinese Indians ...

Kolkata’s Chinese Live In Stateless Sorrow

By Gautaman Bhaskaran on October 7, 2015 in Asia Times News & Features, China, South Asia
Asia Times 

Time was when Calcutta (later renamed Kolkata) in India’s eastern state of West Bengal was home to a bustling number of Chinese. They were shoe-makers, tanners, restaurateurs, hair-dressers or dry-cleaners.

 Shrinking Chinatown in Kolkata

In the 1950s and 1960s, Calcuttans swore by the Chinese expertise. When they needed attention for their teeth, they chose a Chinese dentist, not an Indian. When shopping for a pair of footwear, they walked into the city’s Bentinck Street where tens of Chinese shoe shops lined the pavement.

Chinese were the best hair-dressers at a time when this art was not known at all to Indians. They cleaned your suits impeccably. And they sold yummy food in restaurants in the city’s plus downtown, Chowringhee and Park Street.

Or the food could always be had in Chinatown — the only such place in all of India — where fat mummies sold hot momos and noodles, pickled olives and smoked pork in ‘mummies kitchens’.
With Chinese Indian population dwindling, business is quite dull in Chiantown

A medical shop in Chinatown

There were several of these and one could see the richest of Calcuttans in the swankiest of cars stop by for mummies’ goodies. These were clean, tasty and inexpensive.

Sadly, all this changed the day the Chinese army invaded in October 1962. The immediate provocation was a border dispute between the two countries, but one should not forget that Beijing was already livid because New Delhi had granted asylum to Tibet’s spiritual head, Dalai Lama — who escaped into India in 1959 after his country had been overrun by the Chinese.

The 1962 war signalled the start of hostility towards Calcutta’s Chinese — an additionally contributing factor being the then Indian prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru’s, dejection and disappointment over Beijing’s aggression.

Only some time before 1962, Chinese Premiere Zhou Enlai had promised Nehru peaceful coexistence — which Indians had hailed as ‘Indi-Chini bhai bhai’ (Indian and China are brothers).

That October, dozens of Chinese lost their jobs at the Calcutta Port, dozens of them found themselves without a livelihood elsewhere in the city. Nothing could have been more bitter than this for a people who were loved by the  local population and who had intermingled with Indians in a wonderful sort of way.

Roadside eateries of Chinese Indians do brisk business

Calcutta, which was home to 30,000 ethnic Chinese in 1962, has just about 3,000 today. About 7,000 are scattered in other parts of India. Although Chinese cuisine continues to appeal — albeit in a highly Indianised flavor and taste — the dry-cleaners, the shoe-makers, the dentists and the tanners have all but gone.

Of the 3,000, some were born in Calcutta between 1947, when India won its independence (from Britain), and 1950, when the country got its Constitution and became a Republic.

These Chinese — close to 200 — are not welcome in China. And they are unwanted in India and are stateless today.

They do have a registration certificate, which allows them to stay in India, but it has to be renewed every year.

And what is still worse, since last year these stateless Chinese have to get a letter from their landlords that needs to be filed with the police. These men and women are old and infirm, even poor, and they have no choice but to suffer the humility and harassment from an unfeeling administration and a local population which does not care about them any more.

Members playing mahjong in the Chinese Club in Tiretta Bazaar, Kolkata

The terrible plight of these Kolkata Chinese is all the more glaring because the millions of Bengalis from the erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh, and which was part of Pakistan before the 1971 split) who arrived in India in the 1940s were granted registration certificates, which later enabled them to become Indian citizens.

And these Bengalis (who speak the Bengali language, which is also what people in West Bengal converse in) were not even born in India — unlike the Chinese of Kolkata. Obviously, a deep-rooted prejudice and even hatred exist towards the community.

Ironic as it may appear, these Chinese men and women ought have been Indian citizens, says Bean Ching Law, president of the Chinese-Indian Association, over the telephone from Kolkata. Or, so say the Articles in Part II of the Indian Constitution. But as one intelligence office quipped, maybe there is a separate provision governing the Chinese in India following the 1962 conflict. We do not know.

With virtually no rights, these stateless Chinese lead depressing lives. They are sometimes viewed as spies and police question them even in the middle of the night.

But Law hopes things will improve, and he signs off with a request: “Please call us Chinese Indians — like, for instance Afro-Americans. We are Indians of Chinese descent. We were born in India. So we are not Indian Chinese”.

A sense of desperation is clearly discernible in his voice.

However, given the big challenges India faces today, these stateless men of Kolkata may not find it easy to get their voice across to New Delhi .

 Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author, commentator and movie critic, who has worked with The Statesman in Kolkata and The Hindu in Chennai for 35 years. He now writes for the Hindustan Times, the Gulf Times and The Seoul Times.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Midnight Knock ...

SEPTEMBER 27 , 2015 ,
page 6

That midnight knock on the door

As India celebrates 50 years of the 1965 war this month, the Indian Chinese who were hauled off to Rajasthan's Deoli camp remember the ordeal of another war

Meresss awalon kaaaa jawab do...!“ Ying Sheng Wong, 70, is doing a pretty good job of hollering that peremptory refrain from the hit film Maine Pyar Kiya in his somewhat disjointed Hindi, and the Indian Chinese gathering around him in Toronto erupts in laughter and applause. But the reason they have banded together is not at all cheery .

They call themselves the Deoliwallahs, 60 men and women with some really tragic stories to tell about a tumultuous phase of Indian history . The year was 1962, and between October and November, India and China were caught in a short but intense war. So acrid was the anti-Chinese sentiment in India that a whole lot of innocent Indian Chinese, mostly in the Dooars and Assam, were surprised by its savagery .Some had married local women, and most spoke only local languages. They were more Indian than Chinese with businesses and lives firmly entrenched here.

Suddenly , they became potential “traitors“. Soon, under a new ordinance, the midnight knocks began to be heard across the homes of Indian Chinese, especially those living in Darjeeling, Tinsukhia and Shillong. Entire families were bundled into trucks and transported to railway stations where began a seven-eight day train jour ney to an abandoned PoW camp at Deoli, Rajasthan. In some cases, the families were separated: the men deported to China, mother and children stuck in Deoli, the grandparents elsewhere, say accounts.

The war wrapped up in a month but many of those interned remained in the jail for up to five years. When the families returned, they found their homes and businesses confiscated and plundered. Some of them tried to cobble their lives back together but many left for the West, mostly Canada and the US. Now, 53 years later, these survivors and their families are trying to find some answers, and perhaps an apology for that painful episode that turned their world upside down.

On October 6, at Delhi's India International Centre, some of these Deoliwallahs will be participating in an event recalling the events of 1962. The dramatic story of the Deoli internment and the suffering it caused has been surfacing in many forms in recent years. The survivors have formed a very active and vocal Association of India Deoli Camp Internees 1962 (AIDCI). Earlier this year, Beyond Barbed Wires: A Distant Dawn, a documentary by Indian photojournalist Rafeeq Ellias that tells the story of the internees, was released.

 Another Deoliwallah, Yin Marsh, 66, an artist from California, wrote Doing Time With Nehru two years ago on her life in Darjeeling as a child before the war of 1962 and of her family's internment at Deoli Joy Ma, another participant at the IIC event, is writing her memoirs. And before all that, five years ago, there was `Makam' the Assamese bestseller by Rita Chowd hury on the Indian Chinese community in Tinsukhia which saw many tragedies in the wake of the war.

It may all seem very distant in history but the unfairness of being made victims of a war that wasn't theirs still rankles. “I was just six but what I do remember is the . look on my parents' faces when we were led into the train. It was a look of disbelief, hurt, grief, fear. I didn't know what it meant , then but today , it hits me really hard,“ says Michael Cheng, 59, who now runs a restau rant in North Carolina.

Cheng's father had migrated to Darjeel ing from Guangdong and set up a chain of , flourishing businesses -a shoe store, a restaurant, a lodge. He was big on the horse racing circuit and owned a horse. All that came to an end for the family of 13 in 1962. When the Cheng family was released, they were simply dropped off at Chinatown in Kolkata and ordered not to return to Darjeeling. Kind relatives took the family in and Cheng recalls sleeping on an ironing board. Slowly the Chengs put their shoe business together, and by the '70s managed to return to Darjeeling. But it was never the same again, and the Chengs migrated to the West. “My brother who still misses India often says `I wish this war never happened',“ says Cheng.

Wong was much older when he was taken to the camp along his six siblings, just a day after the war ended. At 17, he recalls the humiliation of the three years at the camp, the heat, the terrible food and the aftermath. His father, who came from the Wangchu in Canton, was running Attun and Sons, a popular shoe shop at GS Road in Shillong. He died a painful and mysterious death at the camp at age 48.

“After we were released, we got Rs 1.50 every day till we reached Shillong to feed ourselves and we would only spend 50 paise on food.“ The shoe shop reappeared as Latest Footwear in Burra Bazar but the fear of fresh hostilities never went away and the family moved to Canada.

Journalist Joy Ma, who was actually born at the Deoli camp, says the saddest aspect of the events of 1962 was how well assimilated the Chinese community in India was. “Even today, at the family shrine, some people keep paan and beedi as offerings to ancestors like they did back home in India. They were part of local communities, married to local Indian or Nepalese women; many hadn't even set foot in China,“ she says.

Her family were prosperous furniture contractors in the Dooars, and the ignominy of having to be dependent for every little thing at the camp hurt deeply. “People were told it was a short trip and they would return soon so they didn't take much along.

The camp was not ready for so many . When they first arrived, some had put out their shirts for the dal to be ladled into,“ Ma says.

The survivors and their families, still trying to make sense of the events that tore their lives apart, are hoping for a small memorial at Deoli to make sure that the episode is not forgotten. 

Malini Nair

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Beyond Barbed Wires

Documentary about the Indian Chinese on NDTV 24x7

Pleased to inform you about the telecast of ‘ Beyond Barbed Wires ’, on NDTV 24x7 .

This documentary by Rafeeq Ellias of Fat Mama Films, Mumbai, is the tragic story of how several thousand Indian Chinese –men, women and children – were jailed without trial in a POW camp in Rajasthan after the India-China war of 1962 .

 Telecast timings are :

 25th September 2015, Friday, 10.30 PM ( IST )

 26th September 2015, Saturday, 7.30 PM ( IST )

 27th September 2015, Sunday, 2.30 PM ( IST )

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Get in Touch

My mother was brought up in Mumbai and had a Chinese classmate in her school by the name of Yee Chian during the 1958-60 in Ratan Bhai Powdee School.

My mother wanted to get in touch with her and wondering if you'll had any way to get in touch.

 Kind Regards ,

 Savio Letiao

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Our Bonsai Man

Calcutta  Saturday  8 August 2015 ,  page 24

Bonsai man back in city

  •  A Chinese born and brought up in Calcutta.
  •     An IIT engineer who turned into a gardener.
  •     A London resident who advised Prince Charles on how to set up a Japanese garden.

 Peter Chan wears many hats.

On Friday, he was teaching a group of Calcutta ladies and a few men how to prune plants.

The 75-year-old electrical engineer from IIT Kharagpur, who owns the Herons Bonsai, Britain's premier bonsai nursery in Surrey, travelled to England in 1963 and about two decades later converted his "hobby into a business".

"In those days people knew little about bonsai. Then at one point my career stagnated... so I said I'll change to something else," Chan said. He graduated from the IIT in 1962.

He advised Prince Charles on how to set up a Japanese garden. "I used to advise him more than 20 years ago... how to set up a Japanese garden.... I visited him twice."

On Friday, the former energy policy adviser in the British government's department of energy applied his technical training to what he felt was a "mathematical problem".

 Peter Chan at the workshop. Pic by Bishwarup Dutta

"When you look at a plant, it's like a mathematical problem and you have to find a solution," he said during a break in pruning plants at an Alipore Road address.

Chan studied at Calcutta Boys' School from 1946 to 1956, when the entire school had "only 300 students", and then science at St. Xavier's College at the intermediate level.

He followed in his father's footsteps and did engineering. "But I didn't enjoy engineering, that's why I got out of it. But I am grateful for the training IIT gave me because it trains the mind to analyse and do things. Once you get the training you can do anything."

Chan is passing through the city on his way to Kharagpur where his alma mater would present him with the most distinguished alumnus award for 2015.

NGO Jyotirmai's bonsai chapter invited him and member Parul Swarup hosted his two-hour workshop at her Alipore Road home.

Speaking about the city, Chan said: "I always like to come to Calcutta because it's my place of my birth... I have a special fondness for Calcutta."


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Guinness World Record

China breaks Guinness World record for largest Umbrella

 A giant umbrella of around 23 meters in diameter and 14.4 meters in height made by a Chinese firm on Monday set a new Guinness World Record for the world's largest umbrella , breaking record set in India in 2010 . The umbrella weighing 5.7 tonnes (5,700 kg) and covers an area of 418 square meters .

Previous world record was held by an umbrella with 17.06 meters(56 ft) diameter and 10.97 meters(36 ft) height in India in 2010 . It weighed 2,200 kg . It was made by Max New York Life Insurance (India) and was unveiled at Ishanya Mall at Pune, India, on August 14, 2010. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Taipei World Trade Center

 Taipei World Trade Center, Kolkata Office
Apeejay House, Block " C", Ground Floor,
15, Park Street Kolkata-16.
Tel: +91-33-4004-2796/97.
Fax: +91-33-4004-2798.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

IIT’s Award

Peter Chan -  IIT KHARAGPUR Distinguished Alumnus Award 2015

Peter Chan was born and brought up in Calcutta (1940 - 1963) .They were three generations in Calcutta - Grandfather and his two brothers started a carpentry factory in Calcutta in the early 1900s , with office in Chandni Chowk and factory in Chingrihatta Rd, Tangra. Thay made furniture and wooden railway carriages till about the early 60s .

Attended Calcutta Boys School and St Xaviers College and then went on to IIT Kharagpur to study Electrical Engg. 1958-62 .

Was the West Bengal Cycling champion 1960-63 and was one of five or six Chinese who studied at IIT.

This year Peter Chan was awarded the IIT’s Distinguished Alumnus Award for 2015 and have been asked to attend the Convocation in Kharagpur to receive
this award.

Peter shall be arriving Kolkata on 7th August - stay in Kharagpur 8th & 9th August and have the morning and afternoon of 10th Aug in Kolkata

Peter Chan is a self-taught Bonsai artist.  He moved to the UK in 1963 and started experimenting with bonsai in 1967 when ceramics was his main hobby. Trained originally as a professional Electrical Engineer, he worked in the UK Electricity industry and also as Energy Policy adviser in the UK Department of Energy for just over twenty years. He gave up his 9-5 job in1986 to turn his hobby of bonsai into a business venture. Today, his nursery ‘Herons Bonsai’ is the UK’s premier bonsai nursery.

Peter is known throughout the world by the many books he has written. His first book –‘Bonsai, the Art of Growing and Keeping Miniature Trees’ was published in 1985 and is still in print. His other books include ‘Bonsai Masterclass’, ‘Choosing and Growing Bonsai’ and the Readers Digest book –‘Bonsai Masterclass’. Many of his books have been translated into seven or more languages. Innumerable bonsai enthusiasts world-wide have been introduced to the art of bonsai through one or more of his books. He has also written a Japanese Garden book as he is also a Japanese garden designer and maker.

On his eight acre nursery, he grows most of the bonsai that the company sells. Maples and other deciduous trees are among his favourite species.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Chinese Churches

Chinese Churches Stand Test of Time

KOLKATA , TUESDAY , JUNE 23 , 2015 , page 2

Crumbling buildings and ilthy roads at Tiretta Bazar -or Old Chinatown -bear evidence to the depleting fortunes of the Chinese community n the city. But behind those closed doors lie a secret the community so proudly cherishes. The shabby build ngs with a `falling-apart' look and feel house some of the historic churches of Kolkata. Step inside and the regalia, incense sticks and intricate altars will give you a feel of the Chinese tradition.

The fact that KMC and the tourism department have joined hands with a Singapore-based organization to revive Old Chinatown has come as a shot in the arm for the community . They are happy hat these churches, which were originally established in the 19th century and then rebuilt in the early part of the 20th century , will get restored.

The Indian Chinese Association has appealed to the project co-ordinators hat the revival project should centre around the six churches (they were orig nally temples but later got converted to churches as most of the Chinese people embraced Christianity) that the community is guarding so dearly for so many years.

While the project so long centred around the Toong On Church and the famous Nanking restaurant that it houses, now five churches have also come into focus. A visit to the churches is an experience in itself. Take the case of the Namsoon Church, for example. It's the oldest of the six. It was established in 1820, almost immediately after the Chinese settlers abandoned Atchewpur near Budge Budge. Located at the far end of the snaky Damzen Lane, you will easily miss it. But the church, dedicated to Kwan Yin, the Chinese Goddess of War, has a magnificent altar complete with an intricately carved roof hanging. 

There are three more churches on the same lane. Choong Hee Dong Thien, built in 1859, is in a sorry state but the deity, Kwan Kun, believed to be the God of Fortune, is still maintained and worshipped by the community . The Gee Hing Church was originally built in 1888 but it reached such a dilapidated state that the community rebuilt and relocated it in 1920 to its present location on 13, Blackburn Lane. Even that is in a sad state now, though the members of the community regularly visit for prayers and offerings there.

“Times are tough and you hardly find time to hang around as regularly as you did earlier. But we still try to meet up for our board games of Chinese Pair, after prayers as frequently as possible,“ said Chang Yu Sen.

“Our tradition lives in these church es. It reminds us where we belong and the culture and tradition of that place.We cannot relate to the changes that have come over China today , so we guard these altars to remain close to our roots.Today many of us might have become Christians but we have not lost touch with Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism that bind us,“ explained Paul Chung, president of the Indian Chinese Association.

The other three churches -Sea Ip Church, Sea Voi Yune Leong Futh Church and Then Hane Miaw -too are crying for attention despite devotees' best efforts at maintaining them. 

Jhimli Mukherjeepandey

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Republic Of Shame
May 22, 2015

By Omair Ahmad 

The 1962 war changed the lives of around 3,000 Chinese living in India — their only crime was that they belonged to a country that most of them had never seen

Washington DC can be quite a beautiful city, and its Mall area — not to be confused with shopping malls — is both restful and a way to learn from the museums and monuments. At the intersection of Louisiana and New Jersey Avenues and D Street, there is a quiet corner which is easy to miss. It does not tower like the Washington Monument, nor is it like the great Smithsonian Museums, and it takes a while to realise that it is a tribute to the Japanese Americans who lost their lives in defence of the US in World War II.

It is actually a little more than that, because it also pays tribute to 2,500 Japanese who were held in an incarceration camp in Texas during the war, simply for being Japanese. Actually it is even more complicated; many of these people had American citizenship, so they were not being punished for their citizenship but their origins. And lastly, the camp in Texas was only one of many. Overall the US incarcerated more than a 1,00,000 people of Japanese origin. It has never really come to terms with that, but the small quiet memorial is at least an acknowledgement of something. Countries do terrible things during the paranoia of war, often enough to their own citizens.

 Not us, just them: People of Chinese origin with Indian voter cards at an election in Kolkata, which has India’s only Chinatown. Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

In India there is no such memorial, but we acted scarcely better in the one occasion that presented itself. After the 1962 war with China — we call it war, the Chinese call it a skirmish, and the world did not really care because it happened when the nuclear stand off between the US and USSR over nuclear missiles in Cuba was at its peak — India imprisoned around 3,000 people of Chinese origin in an internment camp in Deoli, Rajasthan. This large ethnic Chinese community was living in India’s northeastern states and West Bengal, among those closest to the frontline of the war. The very odd thing is that despite the high tensions before the conflict, these people had never been seen as suspects earlier. In fact, during the war, between October 10 and November 19, 1962 (the Chinese declared a unilateral ceasefire on November 21, 1962; the Cuban missile crisis ended in October, and the US was getting involved, vacating all areas captured by them), no action was taken against them. At the behest of BN Mullick, the head of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Lal Bahadur Shastri, the then home minister, signed an order allowing the IB and the state CID teams to detain all people of Chinese ethnicity under the Defence of India Act, 1962. The order was given on November, 17, 1962, and carried out with alacrity within two days, by which time the fighting had ended.

None of these people had actually been accused of doing anything wrong. Certainly no case was filed, and none heard by a court. Instead Mullick alleged in his book, The Chinese Betrayal, that these people, many of them workers in the tea estates of Kalimpong and Darjeeling, or labourers in West Bengal, “had worked in collusion with the Chinese Consulate in Calcutta till it was closed and it was noticed that there was much jubilation amongst these people over the Chinese victory at Nyamkachu and Kibithoo in the month of October.” No evidence of this assertion has ever been provided. Dragged out of their homes, dumped into trains, whole families were shifted to the Deoli internment camp used by the British to hold prisoners during World War II. After weary months, the Chinese government sent a ship to India, and about 2,500 of these internees went ‘back’ to a country most had never seen. The few hundred left mouldered in the camp until it was finally shut in 1968, and then they were sent back to houses that had been ransacked, or left to rot in their absence. They didn’t know what to expect on their return. Journalist Kai Friese told me about his meeting with two men of Chinese origin locked up in Ranchi’s mental asylum for years afterward, only because the state did not know what to do with them.

In my hometown Gorakhpur, my sister’s hairdresser was Chinese. I think her family was from Canton, now Guangzhou. I do not know why they came to India. It happened long before my birth during a time when China was torn by civil war, and when the horrors of the Maoist revolution had devoured more than 70 million lives. But I wonder sometimes, considering how we have treated these people who came to our land for refuge, what they think of us, and what memorial could be large enough to capture the scale of our shame.

Omair Ahmad was educated in Saudi Arabia, India and the US. He has worked as a political adviser on Kashmir, national and international security and legislative issues, as well as working as a journalist in the US, the UK and India.

His published work includes :

The Kingdom at the Centre of the World: Journeys into Bhutan (Aleph, travel, 2013)
Jimmy the Terrorist (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin India, novel, 2010)
The Storyteller's Tale (Penguin India, novella, 2009)
Sense Terra (Pages Editor, short stories, 2008)
Encounters (Tara Press, novel, 2007)

Sunday, May 31, 2015



 Food & Hospitality Industry Exhibition, ( 21st -23rd August, 2015 ):

            TWTC Kolkata is happy to announce that this year we are going to participate in Food tech exhibition in Kolkata from 21st to 23rd August, 2015.We will be participating for promoting our upcoming trade show for food ,beverages, tea, coffee & other food processing machines.

                 Meeting with Business Associations and prospective buyer, June Month:

             TWTC Kolkata would like to meet with Business associations and  companies in north-east area to  discuss what are the business opportunities in Taiwan, what is your requirement, what services we can offer and how we can mutually work together.

Taipei World Trade Center, Kolkata Office
Apeejay House, Block " C", Ground Floor,
15, Park Street Kolkata-16.
Tel: +91-33-4004-2796/97.
Fax: +91-33-4004-2798.

Friday, May 15, 2015

SCARS & Balm ...

A  wrong  Acknowledged ...

KOLKATA , FRIDAY , May 15 , 2015 , page 2

Rajnath balm on Chinese pain after 5 decades

Ming-Tung Hsieh has stoically borne the scars of internment for over half a century .

But on Wednesday , he broke down and wept unabashedly . Union Home minister Rajnath

Singh's apology to Indian Chinese for the torture, harassment and wrongs done by the

Indian government during the Sino-Indian War in 1962 had a cathartic effect on not just

Hsieh but scores of Chinese who still recoil with fear when they look back at those dark


On the eve of Narendra Modi's trip to China, Singh said: "I feel sorry for those Chinese

Indian people, who were separated from their families and were tortured, harassed,

looted and who became homeless. They had already been assimilated to the Indian society

when they had to face that unfortunate state of affairs."

Speaking to TOI on Thursday , Ming-Ting, the author of   'A Lost Tribe' -part memoir,

part history of Indian Chinese and their tryst with the concentration camp in Deoli,

Rajasthan -said Singh's acknowledgement was a crucial step towards restoring the

confidence of Indian Chinese that had been dented by the inhuman treatment during the


"The police arrived one day , packed our family into vans and took us to Alipore jail. A

few days later, we were put on a train and bundled to a concentration camp. Though my

parents pleaded for us, there was no forgiveness. Thousands of small traders were

caught in the border dispute and arrested because of their ethnicity .Some were taken to

the border and pushed across to China even though most had never been to the country .

Such ethnic cleansing-like measures instilled fear in the community . That fear outlived

a generation and triggered an exodus," he said.

Ming-Tung, who was born at Tiretti Bazaar in 1943, now lives mostly in Canada where his

children migrated once they grew up. Some went to Taiwan, US, UK and Australia. “In 50

years, a population goes up by twothree times. Ours has halved from 10,000 to 5,000,“

said his cousin YingHsing Hsieh, owner of Big Boss restaurant at Tangra.

Ying-Hsing was 12 when the war broke out. His family was put under house arrest. “I was

lucky as I could even go to the local school. But classrooms were empty . Some did not

have teachers. In others, many students were missing,“ the restaurateur said.The Pei May

school has no students today .

Not just Kolkata Chinese, who are living here for two centuries, were tortured, those

from Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Meghalaya were also picked up and sent to the camp. Liao

Han Shen, who was also sent to Deoli camp when he was 12, recalled how people instigated

the pro-Taiwan Chinese to fight with pro-China ones. “We spent four years in the camp

barracks. It still haunts us,“ said Liao-Han who runs the Golden City restaurant.

Paul Chung of the Indian-Chinese Association is glad that the government has finally

acknowledged a wrong but says it is only the first step to setting things right. "We were

born in India and are Indians. The government must exonerate all Indian Chinese who were

branded a spy in 1962," said Paul.

Subhro Niyogi

Sunday, May 3, 2015


Contact :

Taipei World Trade Center, Kolkata Office.
Apeejay House, Block " C", Ground Floor,
15, Park Street Kolkata-16.
Tel: +91-33-4004-2796/97.
Fax: +91-33-4004-2798.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Apple Of My Eye

Thomas Chen 陈永康 sings an iconic song, loved by the youth from a very famous Taiwanese movie called "那些年 Those By-Gone Years", referring to good old school days, fights, romance etc. The song is also popularly known as  " You Are the Apple of My Eye "

那些年 LYRICS with English Traslation :

you hui dao zui chu de qi dian
Back to the starting point

ji yi zhong ni qing se de lian
In my memory, I see your young face

wo men zhong yu lai dao le zhe yi tian
We have finally reached this day

zhuo dian xia de lao zhao pian
The old photographs under the table

wu shu hui yi lian jie
Linking to countless memories

jin tian nan hai yao fu nuu hai zui hou de yue
Today, a boy will keep his last date with the girl

you hui dao zui chu de qi dian
Back to the starting point

dai dai de zhan zai jing zi qian
Standing in front of the mirror dumbly

ben zhuo ji shang hong se ling dai de jie
Clumsily tieing a knot on a red tie

jiang tou fa shu cheng da ren mo yang
Combed hair to appear as an adult

chuan shang yi shen shuai qi xi zhuang
Wearing a handsome suit

deng hui er jian ni yi ding bi xiang xiang mei
When I see you in a while, it’ll be better looking than you expected

hao xiang zai hui dao na xie nian de shi guang
Wish that (we) could go back to those years

hui dao jiao shi zuo wei qian hou
When we were sitting in the classroom, in front back position

gu yi tao ni wen rou de ma
(Doing something to get) purposely scolded from you gently

hei ban shang pai lie zu he
Pairing arrangement written on the blackboard

ni she de jie kai ma
Are you willing to let go/ separate it?

shei yu shei zuo ta you ai zhe ta
Whoever sits with whoever, he will love her

na xie nian cuo guo de da yu
Those missed years of heavy rain

na xie nian cuo guo de ai qing
Those missed years of romance

hao xiang yong bao ni
I really want to hug you

yong bao cuo guo de yong qi
Embrace the wasted /missed courage

ceng jing xiang zheng fu quan shi jie
Wanted to conquer the world before

dao zui hou hui shou cai fa xian
But looking back in the end, I realized

zhe shi jie di di dian dian quan bu dou shi ni
Every little thing in this world is all you

na xie nian cuo guo de da yu
Those missed out days of heavy rain

na xie nian cuo guo de ai qing
Those missed out years of romance

hao xiang gao su ni
I really want to tell you

gao su ni wo mei you wang ji
Tell you that I never forgot

na tian wan shang man tian xing xing
That night, when the sky was full of stars

ping xing shi kong xia de yue ding
In parallel time and space, we made a promise

zai yi ci xiang yu wo hui jin jin bao zhe ni
If we meet again, I’ll hug you tightly

jin jin bao zhe ni
Hug you tightly

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

F E A R !!!

Fear and Forgetting
The  1962  internment  of  Indian-Chinese
By  DILIP D'SOUZA  |  1 November 2012

THE RAIN SLASHED DOWN OUTSIDE, on Park Street, as I chatted with Paul Chung in his crowded ground-floor Kolkata flat. His Blackberry, on the coffee-table between us, chirruped every few minutes. “They’re from a guy I don’t even know,” he said. “He got my number from someone a year ago, sent me a message about something, and now he’s been sending me these bizarre messages all morning.”

Chung picked up his phone and leaned over to show me what was on its little screen: “These Indians r cowards they attack on unarmed ppl, they are scared to fight in battle ground so they torture us so that we tell China not to harm them.”

He scrolled down, showing me another: “Remember me? We r treated like dogs.” And another: “I m possessed. Do u know how to break spell of black magic. I am under influence of black magic tantra frm the past 40+ yrs. I am Indian Chinese. Pls pray?”

Puzzled, I looked up at Chung. He first started getting these messages a year ago, he said, adding, “I think somehow he knows you’re visiting today, that’s why he’s sent so many this morning”—about 15 already. I had heard at least four beeps in the 15 minutes that had passed since I entered, and I’d hear many more before I left. All were in this vein.

I had come to see Chung, a retired teacher and assistant principal of Don Bosco school in Liluah, to learn a little about the history of the Chinese community in Calcutta. The community took shape in the late 18th, but especially in the 19th and 20th centuries, when a small flood of people from China—the estimates usually are a few tens of thousands—came to India. Many were from around what was then Canton (now Guangzhou), and spoke either Cantonese or the Hakka language (thus the staple of Indian-Chinese cuisine, Hakka noodles). The early immigrants came because they saw British India as a prosperous land of opportunity; the later ones were often fleeing strife in China. They found work in the docks of Calcutta, or as carpenters for the railways there and further east, or in the tea gardens of Assam. The first in Chung’s family to come to India was his grandfather, a tailor in China who became a successful shoemaker and eventually had three shops in Calcutta.

Chung and I spoke of many things: from the first Chinese man to settle in these parts, Tong Achi (variously written Tong Atchi and Tong Atchew) in 1780, to the continuing difficulties many Indian-Chinese face with passports and residence permits, a problem that has its roots in Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang (KMT) rule in China. The status of those who left during KMT rule—fleeing the Chinese civil war of the 1920s and 1930s and arriving in India—was no longer recognised after Mao’s communists rose to power. These émigrés became “stateless Chinese”, Chung told me, a designation that applied to their descendants, too—like Chung himself. Though born in Tangra, Calcutta’s “Chinatown”, in 1940, Chung was officially stateless till 1998, which is when he got Indian citizenship. Others in the community are still stateless. Like 78-year-old Leong Young Lim, who first applied for Indian citizenship in 1962. She was rejected and must renew her residence permit every year, paying about R6000 each time.

But fascinating as all that was—enough to send me two days later to Tong Achi’s tomb, an hour away in Achipur—Chung and I spoke most about 1962. A camp in 1962. One where thousands of Indian-Chinese—though not Chung—were forcibly detained for years. Chung’s cousin from Kalimpong was one of those interned, but Chung knows many others who were in the camp too. Example: the
Blackberry man.

“It’s the ’62 fear psychosis,” Chung said about the Blackberry messages.

Of all the fallouts of the internment of thousands of Indian-Chinese in a camp in Rajasthan in 1962—50 years ago—this very 21st-century barrage of strange text messages was absolutely the last one I might have expected.

But there were others.

John Wong, whose family opened the Hong Kong restaurant after their return to Tinsukia from Deoli

INDIA FOUGHT CHINA in a bitter, intense month-long war in October and November, 1962. By any measure, it was a heavy defeat for India. The catastrophe was a traumatic blow to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. His “Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai” visions gone up in smoke, Nehru died just a year-and-a-half later.

The whys and wherefores of this half-century-old fracas are, predictably, a matter of whom you ask for an opinion. In his book On China, Henry Kissinger writes that China never recognised the validity of the McMahon Line as the India-China border. Therefore, it saw Indian patrols north of the Line, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, as incursions into its territory. While China “made no overt attempt to contest” this for a while, things changed in October 1962. In a speech, Mao said this: “Since Nehru sticks his head out and insists on us fighting him, for us not to fight with him would not be friendly enough. Courtesy emphasises reciprocity.”

In the Indian telling, it was a Chinese betrayal—India had signed off on the McMahon Line years earlier and believed China had too—and therefore a Chinese incursion. But there was plenty of anger at Indian leaders as well, for dispatching troops to snowbound frontlines without proper footwear or clothing. They were no match for the well-equipped Chinese juggernaut that rolled towards the Line that month. A hammer blow was delivered in a matter of weeks; done with their Chairman’s “reciprocity”, the Chinese withdrew to their pre-war positions.

Indian-Chinese from the small Assam town of Makum formed the majority at the Deoli internment camp in 1962

During the war, with the Chinese government widely seen as the great betrayers of Nehru’s trust, the Chinese living in India were soon painted as traitors conspiring to help defeat India. Large demonstrations against China were staged in various cities, during which Chinese restaurants—and generally any establishments with the word “Chinese” in their names—were vandalised. Kwai-Yun Li, herself an Indian of Chinese descent, put it this way in a Master’s thesis submitted to the University of Toronto: “The Indian government cast the Chinese government as the villain and a threat to India’s newly-found independence and Indian national security. By extension, the Chinese living in India were portrayed as villains too and not to be trusted. Whipped up by the national furor, mainstream Indians ostracized and sometimes brutalized Chinese residents and attacked and destroyed their homes and businesses.” This happened even though Indian-Chinese had publicly and vocally condemned the Chinese incursions.

With the country plunged into a war, President S Radhakrishnan promulgated the Defence of India Ordinance (later to become an Act) that October. It allowed for the “apprehension and detention in custody of any person … suspect[ed] … of being of hostile origin”. The President also suspended Articles 21 (protection of life and liberty) and 22 (protection against arrest and detention) of the Constitution. But crucially, the Ordinance amended the Foreigners Act, 1946, with these lines:

In view of the present emergency, it is necessary that powers should be available to deal with any person not of Indian origin who was at birth a citizen or subject of any country at war with, or committing external aggression against India or of any other country assisting the country at war with or committing such aggression against India but who may have subsequently acquired Indian citizenship in the same manner as a foreigner. It is also necessary to take powers to arrest and detain and confine these persons … should such need arise.” [Emphasis added]

The Deoli camp where Indian-Chinese were interned had housed German, Italian and Japanese prisoners during WWII

Although the Act didn’t specify them, it was clearly meant to refer to Indian-Chinese, especially, but not exclusively, those who were still not Indian citizens. The powers in the Act, and their implicit message, quickly filtered down to police officers in towns and even villages. Starting late that November, thousands of Indian-Chinese in places like Makum and Tinsukia in Assam, Kalimpong, Shillong and Calcutta heard knocks on their front doors. Yet the irony was that by the time the knocks came, the war was actually over: China unilaterally stopped firing and withdrew its forces on 21 November. However, the suspicion, and the perception of a grave external threat to the country, remained.

Given the mood in the country, some Indian-Chinese had been expecting these knocks, but most had not. When they opened their doors, they found police officers standing there, men who ordered the families to collect some minimal belongings and report at the police station, or a large shed, or the nearby railway station. Soon after, these people were on a train, rattling westward. Several such trains operated over the next several months.

The journey took the passengers to Deoli in Rajasthan (often spelled Devli), then little more than a camp on the edge of a desert. The camp actually has a long history, dating to the mid-1800s and British colonial times. During World War II, it was used to house prisoners of war—Italians, Germans and Japanese.

Willie Ho and one of his factory staff in front of the Ho family home in Makum, now empty and kept locked

Beginning in late 1962, roughly 3,000 Indian-Chinese were incarcerated in the Deoli camp, some for up to five years. In many cases families were ripped apart—a husband, for example, might have been sent to Deoli while his wife (often Indian) and children stayed behind. At different times in those years, some of these prisoners were deported to China on ships from Calcutta and Madras, an utterly misguided punishment to inflict on people who had spent all their lives (as had many of their parents and grandparents) in India. The last prisoners were released from the camp in 1967, nearly five years after they entered.

Since 1980, the camp has belonged to the CISF (Central Industrial Security Force), which, among other things, carries out security checks at Indian airports. The CISF converted it into a training camp in 1984. Their website has a page detailing the camp’s intriguing history, on which you’ll find this line: “[After 1957] this camp was converted into a detention camp to accommodate about 3000 prisoners and was known as Chinese camp”—without any hint that these were Indian-Chinese, or why they were detained.

An interior view of a home belonging to an Indian of Chinese origin in Makum
I travelled to Deoli in late August, hoping to see the camp for myself. The permissions I had sought, and thought I had obtained, fell apart at the last minute. So while I was treated with undue deference at the CISF guest house, it was my gilded cage. Nobody was willing to let me into the camp. I had to content myself with glimpses from the gate: a long tree-lined boulevard, an open field with a target for shooting practice, groups of men in khaki shorts, brown canvas shoes and white vests.

Even half a century after they were taken to this camp, many internees have vivid memories of the time they spent behind these gates.

It was “like how you see in the movies”, said Monica Leong, who was 11 when she went to Deoli in 1962. “There were three layers of barbed [wired] high walls with gates.” The barbed wire reminded another internee of movies, too—he spoke of “entering a world from … Bridge on the River Kwai”. Leong remembers that each internee was given a number; hers was 808. An identity card was made for each internee as well, with this number and a photograph—even babies as young as three months were assigned cards.

Wong-Hi Hoi, who was in his 40s during his two years in Deoli, always described the camp to his family as a “jail”. There was nothing much to do in the camp, though later a few young people began lessons for kids. But “they could only teach young children”, Michael Cheng wrote to me over email, “because their knowledge was limited and the only books they had to refer to were the ones they brought with them from their schools”. So it wasn’t much of a success: “A lot of classes were really redundant. A volunteer would do things like try to teach us the alphabet day after day for an entire year.” No wonder Cheng describes his time in camp as “a huge waste of youth”. Still, the camp guards, Wong-Hi Hoi’s son Chung-Wa told me, would regularly take kids, if not the adults, for short excursions outside the camp.

Ming-Tung Hsieh, who now lives in Mumbai, responded to some questions by email. For him, “food was the most pathetic problem in the camp”. This forced them to “resort to eating dog-meat, sparrow’s soup, frogs and snakes during monsoon”. Michael Cheng was also preoccupied with food. “We would do things like use slingshots to shoot birds down,” he wrote. “Afterwards, we took the birds home and cleaned them and cooked them. We caught other small animals, like squirrels, with hand-made traps.”

Ming-Tung also formed an exercise group with four friends, “to keep our body and mind healthy”, he said. Better to stay that way, because the only medical facility he remembers in the camp was a “badly equipped hospital”. But the internees found other ways to keep healthy. Andy Hsieh recalled that many in the camp “believed in using baby urine to cure their ailments”, and so such urine became “a precious commodity”. Also valued were leaves from the neem trees that dotted the camp: Leong said they were used to treat “fevers, boils and other sicknesses”. Besides, the neem trees offered relief from Rajasthan’s desert heat, so oppressive for people used to far cooler lives. The summers in Deoli were so hot that John Wong remembers throwing water on the curtains to cool down the rooms they were housed in.

Hou Chin Hsiu—who was actually an Indian citizen with an Indian passport—arrived in Deoli in March 1963, and wrote regularly about his camp experiences to his family in Calcutta. Only, the letters reached Calcutta with sentences and paragraphs censored. Not censored were his appeals for money, and his family managed to send him a few hundred rupees every now and then. He used the money to buy chickens, and built a small poultry farm in the camp. Their eggs, according to an account by Hou’s sons, were “highly valuable [and] presenting eggs to someone could quickly build useful alliances”.

Walking back to the CISF guest house, I searched for Natalie and Sons.

Hou Chin Hsiu and at least a few other internees make tantalising mention of this Deoli establishment—he bought his chickens there, while others bought cigars and assorted groceries. It was then situated just outside the gate, but nothing like it exists today. Just the usual shops you’d find in any small Indian town. Like Karishma Photo Studio, with “designing and back-to-back photography” painted in Devanagari on the entrance. I thought of entering and asking, “Were you once Natalie?” But better sense prevailed.

Natalie must have been a boon to the 3,000 who spent years in this camp. The ordinariness of buying supplies there, I had to think from its mention in those otherwise melancholy and baffled accounts, was likely a moment of sanity in a world gone mad.

The prisoners from the camp who were not deported to China eventually returned to where they came from, in Assam and elsewhere. There, most of them found that their once-flourishing Indian lives were in ruins.

IF YOU WANDERED THE PARBATIYA AREA of the Assam tea garden town of Tinsukia in 1962, you may have run into Ho-Kok Mang, in his late teens at the time. Quite likely, you would have found him with his head deep in the innards of a truck at the garage his father had established in the colony, known to all as China Garage. Still in school at the time, Mang was already working at China Garage in his free time.

His father had come over from China as one half of a young newlywed couple, his wife from Macau. Mang, though, was born in Tinsukia. He spoke to his father in Chinese, but he grew up speaking to his friends in Assamese. He was a young man in small-town India much like millions of other young men in small-town India.

One day in late 1962, a police officer arrived at Mang’s family home. “The situation is not good,” the officer said, referring obliquely to the war with our giant neighbour. “For your own safety,” he said, “you should come with us.” Mang, his parents, his sister, two brothers and two older aunts with their husbands climbed aboard a bus, along with another Tinsukia family, and were taken to Dibrugarh. They spent a couple of days in a jail there, and then they climbed aboard the metre-gauge train that started rattling west.

It carried thousands like Mang.

I actually heard Mang’s story of the journey to Deoli from his son, Mankhee. We sat in the neat home he shares with his father just behind China Garage, which Mankhee now runs. To my right was a case with a minor collection of teddy bears, all in plastic covers. The walls had several canvases painted by Mankhee: a tea-garden girl, a pair of cranes, and one of tennis star Steffi Graf.

Mang, who had had a stroke only a few months earlier, sat upright on a chair, beside the teddy bears. He leaned on a red embroidered cushion, listening and nodding occasionally, Mankhee reaching from time to time to ever-so-gently wipe his mouth dry. But Mang clearly could not contribute to our conversation. “I’m telling you all I know,” Mankhee said, “but remember I’m going by what he said to us all these years.”

For seven days the cargo of Indian-Chinese, Mang among them, rattled through the North Indian plains. It eventually unloaded them in Kota, from where buses took them another few hours northwest to Deoli.

The Hindi School in Makum, formely a Chinese school

Also on one of the earliest trains to Kota was Dr Lohit Konwar. Today a homeopath in the poky Parbatiya clinic where I visited him, in 1962 Konwar was a 23-year-old allopath at the Assam Medical College in Dibrugarh, his first job. In November that year, with a border war raging only several dozen miles away, he was approached by police authorities who spoke of needing him for an “emergency”. In a week, he was told, a crowded train would leave Assam on a week-long journey. Where it was going and who the passengers were, nobody told Konwar, though they did say it would be cold and he should bring a blanket. They also said they needed a doctor on board, or more correctly a team of doctors, to attend to any complaints en route.

The young Konwar jumped at the chance, seeing it as an exciting challenge, just the kind of thing to take on early in a career.

After they boarded in Dibrugarh, Konwar and his colleagues were given basic medical kits. The train then went east to pick up passengers from the tiny town of Makum, then west through towns like Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Chaparmukh, picking up more passengers each time.

All through, the doctors were in a coach by themselves, kept apart from the other passengers. The other passengers looked Chinese, but “the women were all in Assamese dress”, Konwar said, “mekhala chadar”. He paused for a moment, lost in thought. “But they were all Assamese anyway. The women were like our sisters.”

“Ours was the first train to cross the Saraighat Bridge!” Konwar said, speaking of the first bridge built across the Brahmaputra in Assam. It may not have been quite the first, since the bridge had been opened to freight trains a few weeks earlier, but it was likely one of the first few across. (According to another account I heard, the guards also told the Indian-Chinese on the train the same thing, that theirs was the first train across the bridge. “So if the bridge fails,” they said, full of foreboding, “you will fall into the river and die.” Presumably the guards would fall in too.)

On the first morning of the train ride, wrote an internee named Wong Ying Sheng, “the prisoners had trouble with the bathroom. With so many people, there were long lines and not everyone could wait.” Luckily, that irksome situation got sorted out in a day or two.

A few times a day, the train would stop so that the passengers could get off and cook themselves a meal. Michael Cheng remembers toast, “so hard that we almost could not eat it”. Dal and rice were the only raw materials available in any quantity, so khichdi was the menu most mealtimes, not so agreeable to the palates making the journey. The doctors ate what food they could find at nearby hotels. No sharing the Chinese-made khichdi? “We were not allowed any contact with them,” Konwar said, “unless we were with the guards.”

The train usually stopped just outside a station—rarely on the platform, for fear of attracting hostile attention. Even so, there were times when large and angry crowds threw stones at the passing train, shouting “Chinese, go back!” Once, according to one internee, the crowd came “armed with spears, sticks, spades, shovels and even sandals”. Word of the train and its cargo, clearly, was chugging along the tracks just a bit faster than the train itself.

But many of the Indian-Chinese, frantic with worry, braved the guards to ask the doctors whenever they could: where are they taking us? What will they do with us? Will they kill us? Besides that anxiety, there was one emergency on the journey that Konwar remembers—the birth of a child. Otherwise, they treated only minor problems—headaches, colds and the like. “So this wasn’t like the Nazis,” Konwar said, heading off any possible comparisons I might make to the most notorious human-shipments-by-train in living memory. “That they sent doctors along with the train shows that India has some humanity.” Six doctors, underlining Indian humanity on that train.

When they reached Kota, the doctors spent two days in a camp there. Then the same train brought them back to Assam.

They never saw most of those Chinese-looking people again.

WALKING EAST ON THE MAIN ROAD through Tinsukia, you pass the railway station and come to a major junction where you turn south, and then east again after about 100 metres. That 100-metre stretch is Tinsukia’s “China Patty” (pronounced “cheena patty”, it probably translates best as “China ’Hood”), where the town’s Indian-Chinese were to be found, pre-1962. It must say something of their influence on these parts that the area is called that even today. The name is painted on the boards of a couple of hole-in-the-wall workshops along the road there, one of which is “Dilip Electrical Works”.

The only real present-day reminder of Tinsukia’s Chinese history is John Wong’s Hong Kong restaurant, on the left just after you turn south, a dim establishment that has clearly seen better times. Wong himself, a stocky and somewhat sad-looking man in his late 50s, was at the Deoli camp with his family.

In 1962 his father, Wong Ssu Chin, ran the Lee-Hing saw mill in Tinsukia. It was a successful business that owned “fourteen GMC vehicles and six elephants”, Wong (junior) told me as we munched on some excellent hot noodles. These brought timber from the forests to the mill, where it was processed into sleepers for the railway.

This man, his wife and their three children likely rode to the Deoli prison camp in Rajasthan atop sleepers that he had himself supplied to the railway. The irony may not have struck Wong, though: his most vivid memories of the journey are of his father brushing his teeth and hanging his wet vest in the window to dry.

One year after reaching Deoli, Wong lost his five-year-old sister to chicken pox. (“Three days of fever,” he told me. “Her skin turned black, and there was no doctor service.”) In 1966, the family was released from Deoli and returned to Tinsukia. They did not have the 25 paise rickshaw fare to get from the station to China Patty. His father and the rickshaw-driver were just getting into a fight when someone stepped in and paid the fare.

There was worse to come, they found. All the machinery had been stolen from their mill. Various people had appropriated the cars. One elephant, they heard, had died. Another had lumbered away. Nobody could say what had happened to the rest. “The people who had property, like us,” Wong said to me in Hindi over noodles in his restaurant, “had been broken. We had to sleep on the verandah of our old house for a month”—tears welled up in his large eyes—“because nobody would give us the key.” John Wong’s family had been in India for generations. But their home had been seized and sealed, as “enemy property”.

His mother, sprightly at 86, walked in with bags full of supplies from the market. As she passed us, still eating our noodles, I suspected she’d caught her son’s tears. She whispered to him, but in Hindi and loud enough for me to hear: “Don’t talk about these things, they are finished now!”

The truth is, they were finished in 1962. Wong told me what his father would say about their life before Deoli: “I used to have tiger heads in my pocket,” referring to the R100 notes of the time that prominently featured the Ashok pillar. After 1962, he said, “everything was ‘barbadi’ (destruction)”.

For four years, Wong’s family struggled to make their lives again in Tinsukia. His father gave tuitions to schoolchildren, and Wong remembers a Majumdar family that gave them credit to buy food. In 1970, they opened the
Hong Kong restaurant. Later, Wong’s wife and two sisters would open the three beauty parlours that now flank the restaurant.

Ten km east of Tinsukia, along a road that runs parallel to the railway track, is Makum. In some sense, Makum most symbolises the events of that November. Like in Tinsukia, only a few families returned here from Deoli. Roughly the easternmost outpost of the campaign to round up Indian-Chinese, it was where the first loads of bewildered passengers boarded the train going west. Makum was home to a few thousand of them in 1962, and in every account I heard, people from Makum formed the majority of the prisoners in Deoli.

Before the war, Wong told me, “Makum was like a Chinese town.” There was a Chinese Club which attracted people “from all over Assam” every Sunday. They came to dance, swim, play checkers and mahjong, and there was always a pork barbecue. There was a Chinese school, its porch framed by a large curved arch with Chinese letters on it, and Chinese restaurants and shoe shops. In other words, just like in Tinsukia, there was a China Patty here too.

Shorn of regular members after the war, no longer a venue for Sunday festivities, the club was eventually turned into the local police station, which it remained for many years. Not long ago, the police abandoned it for a newer facility about half a kilometre away. It is now being transformed into a tile factory.

The school in Makum still exists—or some vestige of it does. Only, the classrooms were filled with broken furniture when I visited. The same large curved arch is still there too, only it now has Devanagari letters on it, and they say: “Hindi School Makum Jn” and, inexplicably, “Established 25-01-1958”. According to everyone I asked in Makum—those who could remember—it was a Chinese school before 1962.

Across the tracks from the Makum school is CM Ho and Company. Born in Makum in 1937, and thus as Indian as anybody else there, CM Ho was known to all by his nickname, Aman (‘Peace’). He was a young engineer about to get married when he was sent to Deoli in 1962. He ran a small informal school for the kids in the camp. After three years there, his siblings, also in the camp, chose to leave for China. But Ho stayed on. Another two years later, he was released from the camp and decided to return to Makum. After all, he had his engineering skills, he had R100 in his pocket, he had a bit of land there, and there was a young woman who had waited all those years to marry him. Why would he “go back” to China, a land he didn’t know?

In Makum again, Ho started a business manufacturing equipment for the tea industry, a good choice in a region where, if you throw a stone, there’s a good chance it will land amid lush green tea bushes. “He was bitter about Deoli,” said his son Willie, who took over the company after Ho died at 61 in 1997, “and spoke very little about it.” Though he did say enough that Willie has an idea of what life was like in the camp. Instead of letting himself be consumed by that bitterness, Ho focused on his business. Today, CM Ho & Co is a prominent Assam firm, with offices in Guwahati and Kolkata besides Makum. Going by the way Indian-Chinese speak of it, it must be one of the most successful of post-Deoli Indian-Chinese enterprises.

Not that there’s a whole lot of competition.

A CM Ho employee took me on a tour of Makum’s once-Chinese neighbourhoods where we stumbled upon a long shed-like house that was once occupied by a Chinese family. Locked now, its front door had “JN Singh” scrawled on it, but no sign of this Singh. A man nearby shook his head when I asked who and where Singh was, yanking hard on a rope attached to a cow invisible in the undergrowth. Elsewhere, we found an abandoned house, pigeon droppings everywhere, windows broken so we could peer in, the panels of the false ceiling crumbling. A calendar on one wall advertised “Eve’s Beauty Parlour”—one of the three that flank John Wong’s Hong Kong restaurant in Tinsukia. Outside, a lone rooster scrabbled in the dirt, struggling against the rope that anchored one of its legs to a protruding nail. There was nobody around to ask this time.

And not far from the once-Chinese Club was a large double-storeyed edifice with beautifully carved eaves—the bits of it that were intact, at any rate. The brickwork was exposed and mouldy, the lower windows boarded up while the upper ones yawned open. “Used to be a restaurant,” my guide explained.

The long overgrown road we took, the one that runs beside and behind the school, is still marked with the name “Chinapatty Road” on Google Maps. Nearly the only memory of a Chinese past in Makum that’s still intact.

DR KONWAR’S SON, 40-year-old Pradeep, sat down to talk after his father left his clinic to run an errand. “You know,” he said, “I didn’t even know all this about my father”—that he had been a doctor on one of those trains in 1962—“till last year!” That was when “Papa read Rita Choudhury’s book”, he added.

Children at a get-together organised by the Indian-Chinese community in Makum in January 2000 

Makum is a novel about the events of 1962. Choudhury, a celebrated Assamese writer, remembers visiting the town while growing up—she was a young girl in 1962—and hearing occasional mention of the near-disappearance of the local Indian-Chinese. Her novel is one of the first real attempts in 50 years to tell the story of what happened to Assam’s Chinese-origin people. Though a fictional love story, it underlines how Chinese immigrants became an integral part of Assamese society over the years, and how the Deoli experience tore apart those ties.

I spoke to Choudhury as we sat on the verandah of her house, overlooking the broad river Brahmaputra in Guwahati. “It became my mission to tell this story, to remove this idea that these people were spies,” she said of the Indian-Chinese community. “I wanted to speak about this injustice. I want the government to acknowledge it.”

When her book was published in 2010, a series of letters appeared in the Assamese press, attacking her. What’s to prevent China from invading again, they asked. Of course the Chinese had to be put in detention, they said. For criticising what happened in 1962, they pronounced, Choudhury is anti-Assam and anti-India. How could she write a book like this?

Clearly, the 1962 fear extends to some Assamese letter-writers too.

Yet the only Chinese invasion—a trickle, really—Choudhury could foresee happening was of Indian-Chinese from Assam who migrated to China and elsewhere after their experience at Deoli. “They call Assam their ‘janam-jagah’”, she said, “their birthplace. They want to visit here once before they die.”

In the course of researching her book in the late 2000s, Choudhury met several such people and has plenty of
stories to tell about them, many of which don’t feature in her book.

Like the Bodo woman she met in Hong Kong, the wife of a deported Chinese man; her memory was gone, but she asked Choudhury for some joha rice, the aromatic variety grown mainly in Assam. When Choudhury returned home and sent her some, the woman said her memory miraculously returned. She remembered the name of her village and while she could not visit, her grandson travelled there from Hong Kong. Having found some vicarious peace with that journey, she died.

Or there’s the man born of an Assamese mother and Chinese father, who was deported to China after Deoli, but without his own Assamese wife and children. At one point, he moved to Hong Kong. Now financially secure, he wrote to his family, asking them to join him there. Only, the children were grown up and didn’t want to leave Assam. Neither did his wife. He committed suicide.

How many more tragedies, large and small, were spawned by that sudden train ride in 1962? Choudhury herself knows of several. Yet she believes her book—a bestseller in the state—has made a difference in attitudes. “The Assamese now feel more positive towards these people,” she said.

“Papa read Rita-baideo’s book,” Pradeep Konwar said again, using the Assamese term of respect. “He liked it, but he said to me, I know this is fiction! I said, you’re right, it is fiction, but how did you know?”

“Because,” Dr Lohit Kanwar said to his son, “I was on that train too.”

Just so did Dr Konwar first mention to his family—nearly 50 years after it happened—his sudden train ride in 1962.

FROM DEOLI, many Indian-Chinese were deported to China, from where some later went to Hong Kong. Of those who returned to their hometowns in India, too, many ended up migrating—to Hong Kong, Australia, Canada and the US.

These years later, some of these people have started speaking about their experience, to a degree they would never have done if they had stayed in India. In India, too many of them suffered from the ’62 fear. As one survivor told Kwai-Yun Li, “My two sisters still live in Calcutta. They were interned back in 1962. If I tell my story and the Indian government hears about it, I will get my sisters and their families into trouble.”

Still, a few from a younger generation who are intrigued by their parents’ tales from an Indian concentration camp—but not burdened by the fear—are urging them to tell their stories now.

The result is a still small, but growing swell of material about 1962. There’s a blog run by Yeeva Cheng, daughter of a camp survivor, called “The Deoli Diaries: A Safe Haven for Ex-Internees and their Stories”. There’s the earlier-mentioned Master’s thesis by Kwai-Yun Li, “Deoli Camp: An Oral History of Chinese Indians from 1962 to 1966”. There’s a North America-based organisation called the Association of India Deoli Camp Internees 1962 (AIDCI), complete with its own website, Facebook page and annual meetings. Its goal is something that’s been almost unthinkable all these years: to “pressur[e] the Indian government for a formal apology to the Chinese-Indian citizens and an acknowledgment of the 1962 internment”.

Whether they get that apology or not—they certainly deserve it—the stories that are now emerging are a historical record in their own right, accounts of another time that are mixed forever with sadness and bewilderment.

In Wong Ying Sheng’s account on Yeeva Cheng’s blog, for example, we hear of a riot in the Deoli camp sometime in 1963. Ying Sheng was one of 30 internees accused of starting it, all of whom were confined to one small room as punishment. He remembers a man sitting beside him there who had a “very prominent and distinct beard”. This man said he had heard the guards speak of him, saying “the bearded man is a troublemaker”. Terrified of further punishment, “he begged Ying Sheng to help pull out the hairs of his beard so that the next time the soldiers came, they wouldn’t recognise him”. Ying and the man spent an entire night at this task, made difficult by “the sweat from the man’s face and from [Ying’s] own fingers”. By morning, the man was beard-free and looked different. The guards, though, never did come for him.

For her thesis, Kwai-Yun Li spoke to four Indian-Chinese about their lives in India leading up to 1962 and Deoli. One, a woman named Ming, described what it was like for her family when war broke out: “The Assamese shunned us. We became taboo. The Assamese taunted me and all the Chinese, like pulling the corners of their eyes upwards and shouting, ‘Cheena, Cheena, Chin, Chin!’ Sometimes they threw stones or rotten vegetables at us and yelled at us to go home. I had to change my route to school. I went through the back alleys and walked really fast. Most of my friends became my tormentors overnight.”

After a meeting in Toronto in 2009 where she spoke about her research, a man named Tsang came up to Kwai-Yun. “My family and I were arrested and interned in Deoli,” he said. “[They] lost everything my grandfather and father worked hard for. I am glad you are telling our stories. Nobody in India knows about the Deoli Detention Camp but the Chinese from India and nobody cares. Are you going to write more about the Chinese who were interned in Deoli?”

IT’S WORTH REMEMBERING that India is not the only country to have acted like this during a war. A month before my trip to Tinsukia and Makum, as I was visiting my sister in suburban California, I went for a walk one crisp evening. Within 15 minutes, I found myself threading a small alley to emerge on what was a visibly recent housing development: more than a dozen houses on an “L”-shaped cul de sac formed by Marilyn Drive and Satake Court. A few residents were outside, chatting.

On the corner of the “L” was an elegant plaque. Here is some of what it said:

In December of 1941 husband and wife Shinajiro and Shimano purchased approximately 60 acres on this site … Their intent was to continue the family business that they had started by leasing property in midtown Palo Alto. Unfortunately, the plan was sidetracked by World War II. The Satakes, like all people of Japanese ancestry in California, Washington and Oregon, citizens or not, were required to relocate to inland areas. Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin Roosevelt in February of 1942, resulted in the family voluntarily leaving California shortly thereafter.… The majority of the Japanese-American local population was involuntarily relocated later that spring, to temporary camps and later to internment camps built to house them. [The Satakes were] able to return to the property in the spring of 1945. … In early 2006 the Satake Family decided … to purchase the property and develop a community of quality single family homes. The first homes in ‘Satake Estates’ were finished and ready to occupy in the spring of 2010.

What India did to Indian-Chinese when war broke out in 1962, the US did to Japanese-Americans two decades earlier, when war broke out between those countries. “Involuntarily relocated” describes exactly what happened to CM Ho, to John Wong and his father, and so many others in Assam and West Bengal, just as it describes what happened to “all people of Japanese ancestry” in three American states.

For no reason apart from their looks, Japanese-Americans suffered greatly in those years, incarcerated in detention camps. For no reason apart from their looks, Indian-Chinese suffered greatly too in the 1960s, incarcerated in the Deoli camp. They too were “able to return” to the property they had left behind in 1962. Only, many of them found their property had been vandalised, stolen, usurped.

Some found their elephants gone.

But on this street corner in California, a plaque remembers a dreadful moment in American history. The shame was eventually so great that in 1988, President Ronald Reagan explicitly acknowledged it and apologised on behalf of his country to his Japanese-American fellow-citizens. The Indian memory of what we did to 3,000 countrymen in 1962 remains an empty hole.

IN PAUL CHUNG’S HOME, the Blackberry beeped again just as I got up to leave. He handed it to me to read: “Now a days I am getting weak and weak after fighting continuously for 40 years torture, etc. I’m jobless no money I dnt knw wht will happen to me.

Dilip d'Souza has won several awards for his writing, including the Outlook/Picador prize. His most recent book is Roadrunner: An Indian Quest in America.