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21 From the Outside In: Recollections of the Jewish Community of Calcutta

Childhood Memories

Birthdays were occasions for tea parties for the children. Everybody, Jewish or Bengali, had the same menu. It used to be chutney sandwiches, falouries, chutputey (ghugni), agar agar, cheese samboosas, everything homemade, except for the cake which was from Nahoum’s. The drink was Vimto, a sweet cherry flavoured drink,which was only had as a special treat. Kids relished Vimto and the grown-ups of course had something stronger. The most amazing thing about these birthday parties was the community participation.  All the aunties, Bengali or Jewish, made one or two of the items, each one being given responsibility of preparing her speciality. The aunties cooked, the children helped to blow up the balloons and put up the streamers, toiling all day…then hot and bothered we would all remove to our respective homes and re-appear washed, dressed and perfumed, ready to party. –Iti (Bengali Hindu, 1941)

Either because my dad was very liberal, we had no rules regarding having friends. The Jews were very friendly. It was normal for kids to grow up together. There was a lot of unawareness because we did not know about majority/minority community. Children were children. In those days we did not have so many Bengali friends because they were not that many in school.Katayun (Parsi, 1938)