"If it is our fate to be the last flicker of the Jewish candle in Kolkata, then so be it."
Everyone agrees that Kolkata is one of India's most beautiful cities. But not many know that a majority of the landmarks in the city were built not by the British, but by members of the Jewish community. Once several thousands strong, the community in the city is now down to just over 20 members.
Immediately after the second world war, countries like Austalia and Canada opened their doors to immigrants from around the world. This, along with the formation of the state of Israel, spurred thousands of Jews to leave the country and go back to their homeland. Many gave up great jobs in India, just to live in tents in Israel.
Despite their diminished numbers, the Jews of Kolkata still own three Synagogues, three schools and a cemetary in Narkeldanga. Members of the community are now reaching out to Jewish communities in Singapore, Hong Kong and the United States, to see if they would help to manage Jewish affairs in the city. Members of the community are resigned to the fact that they may be the last generation of Jews in Kolkata. The way they see it, it's the city's loss.
101 Traces looks at the last of anything: ethnic communities, folk craftsmen, disappearing trades, forgotten people. It sketches portraits of these unique individuals, locked in a battle they cannot win: a battle against the future. Together, they represent the dying whispers of ancient heritage and traditional individuality. As India moves towards homogenized global pop culture, 101 Traces honors the people, the objects, and the skills that connect us to our ancient identity.