Territy Bazar of KolkataIt is 5.30 in the morning. The invigorating aroma of freshly cooked food wafts through the air, beckoning people for their breakfast. At a time when the rest of the city is engrossed in deep slumber, the Territy Market in the Sun Yat Sen Road springs to life and is buzzing with activities. As you walk along the lanes, you realise that this bazaar is filled with, mostly Chinese vendors. Like sincere students working on their homework, these vendors lay their wares and begin their work in a disciplined manner. Stoves are lighted, and visitors are greeted by the sound of knives chopping away and the fragrance of the freshly steamed food, once the lids are removed from the steamers. What makes this trip, undertaken at the crack of the dawn worthwhile is that you get to enjoy delicious authentic Chinese food, amidst the tranquil morning ambience.
Travelling in Territy BazarBy the time you reach the market, you can see people already queuing up for the special dish – the red roast pork that gets sold, as soon as it arrives. By merely looking at it, you can almost imagine its juicy taste and spicy flavour, the one that lingers in your mouth and mind, long after the dish has been consumed. The steaming momos and dimsums look so good that you might almost fall in love with them. Tofu and Mikao Pao, eaten with sweet garlic soy sauce tingle your taste buds, leaving you crave for more. The spring rolls and tangled heaps of red and white sausages prove to be a visual delight. At the far corner of the street, you get to see a round table with an umbrella, on which you can find chop sticks, different sauces, spoons and other cutlery. On further investigation, you realise that this arrangement is for the pork and fish balls soup, a speciality of this market. Hand pounded meatballs are gently dropped into the piping hot broth in plastic bowls garnished with spicy herbs look irresistible. Though your stomach gestures you are full, your eyes and mouth refuse to obey. ‘Last one’, you promise to yourself and move forward to join hordes of others, revelling in the taste of this divine soup.
Delicious Items in Territy BazarApart from breakfast, you also get to shop for some truly fresh vegetables, a variety of fresh fish and crabs, neatly packed ready-to-fry crispy prawn papads and many more lip-smacking delicacies. You come across elderly Chinese people, getting acquainted with the latest happenings in the country, sipping hot tea, unperturbed by the attention showered on them, by the amused tourists. Next, you head to the Hap Hing Co., a Chinese Provision and medical store, one of the most popular stores in the bazaar, home to amazing Chinese condiments and mysterious medicines. You get to meet Stella, who reminds you of a strict disciplinarian, perhaps your teacher, but on striking up a conversation with her, you realise that she is indeed a sweet lady, who still uses abacus for calculations. Her eyes light up as she talks about her childhood, her grandfather and the Tiretta Bazaar. Do not forget to visit the shops, where you can lay your hands on Chinese sauces and noodles, manufactured in their own factories, at throwaway prices. Its 9.30, you can see most of the vendors winding up after selling their wares. You return home, hand full of Chinese provisions, mind filled with awe, having had a Chinese breakfast in the heart of Kolkata city!!
Sadly, this was the scenario, about six to seven years back. Currently, the Chinese population in this bazaar is fast dwindling, as the younger generations are migrating in search of better prospects, while the elder ones have become too old, if not dead. Many Indian, Nepali and Tibetan vendors have replaced the Chinese ones, and even the Chinese dishes have lost their authenticity, owing to the attempts made to modify them to suit the Indian taste buds. Stalls selling aloo bhajias and parathas have sprung up throughout the market. Mounds of dirt are seen accumulated here, owing to the fact that this place serves as a parking lot for the offices and buildings around, leading to appalling hygiene conditions. This bazaar, now is just a pale ghost of its former chirpy self, and if this situation continues for a while, all that would remain are the memories of Chinese breakfast in the Territy Bazaar.
Present condition of Territy Market
In an attempt to revive and restore the Territy Bazaar to its former state, the state tourism department has joined hands with the Kolkata – born Chinese and Bengali people, settled in Singapore. The 100 crore massive project ‘Cha’, after the beverage, by that name in both Bengali as well as Chinese, has been launched by the Singaporean coporate Buzzmedia. Intach, an organisation dealing with heritage restoration has been roped in to revive the Territy Bazaar as Old Chinatown and later, Tangra as the new Chinatown. It is believed that the revival of Chinatown would help boost tourism in Kolkata by leaps and bounds.
Hopefully the project turns out to be a huge success and the City of Joy gains back its slowly fading Chinese spirits!!
Other markets in Kolkata: New Market, Burrabazar