In Pictures: The Kabuliwalas of Kolkata

Two photojournalists revisit the Kabuliwalas of Kolkata. 

3 min read

In the suburbs of Kolkata lives a little-known community of migrants who once came from Afghanistan – the first of them around two centuries ago.

Kabuliwalas, as they are called, were immortalised by Tagore’s 1892 classic short story revolving around the friendship between the five-year-old girl, Mini, and a middle-aged Afghan trader, Rahmat.

Tagore’s story introduced India to the Afghan community, but partition took a toll on cultural exchanges with travel between the two countries getting complicated.

Inspired by Tagore’s iconic short story “Kabuliwala”, Moska Najib and Nazes Afroz, two journalist- cum-photographers, have captured the stories of this little-known community, whose numbers are close to 5000, in the present times.

I wanted to explore how the community has held onto its culture and identity through the 100 years. And by understanding their ways of connection, I too wanted to connect with my own country – Afghanistan.

- Moska, Afghan by origin but living in India for most of her life.

The city of Kolkata had amazing diversity and it had made me what I am today. But for a few decades, I felt that this diversity was fading fast, which was disturbing me. So by doing this project, I had an opportunity to capture at least one slice of the diversity of this city and in a way it is a tribute to Kolkata.

- Nazes Afroz, Indian journalist with three decades of experience.


The photo exhibition “From Kabul to Kolkata: of Belonging, Memories and Identity”, by Moska Najib and Nazes Afroz will open in Delhi for viewing on Friday, 10 April at 1900 hrs.

Find out more on the #KBL2KOL project on:
OnTwitter :@kabultokolkata
Join in on the conversation by tagging #KBL2KOL

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