Off the coast of mainland India, a rare Indian tribe became our friends

Read more about the article Off the coast of mainland India, a rare Indian tribe became our friends
My sister and I with children from the Ongee tribe. Union Territory of Andaman & Nicobar. Circa 1960

My sister and I with children from the Onge tribe. Union Territory of Andaman & Nicobar. Circa 1960 Image and Narrative contributed by Late. Anand Halve, Mumbai India is more varied and diverse than reflected in the languages on Indian currency notes or in the number of states and Union Territories on our map. This is a piece about a group of ‘Indians’ that will probably vanish before most Indians ever even hear of them. The Ongee or Onge tribe, are one of the indigenous Andamanese tribes. A negrito tribe of the Andaman Islands. Petite and superficially 'African' in appearance, dark skinned and peppercorn hair, they are still genetically different from most modern African people. Until the late 1940s, the Onges were the only permanent occupants of Little Andaman, the southernmost island in the Andaman group of 324 islands. The Non-Onges began to settle on Little Andaman in large numbers in the early 1950s. Among the earliest visitors - in the early 1960s - was a seven year-old boy (me) and his six year-old sister Jyoti. My father, Bhaskar Halve was posted as the Deputy Commissioner of the administration of the Union Territory of Andaman & Nicobar. His job took him to study various islands in the Andaman & Nicobar group, and we were only too happy to tag along. The Onges are a traditionally nomadic hunting and gathering tribe. I recall stories told to us by the sailors who visited the islands where the Onges lived. The Onges were masters of the bow - I recall watching an Onge spear a fish through the refracted sea-water with his arrow. I recall stories of a strange plant whose leaves…

Continue ReadingOff the coast of mainland India, a rare Indian tribe became our friends

In love until their last days

Read more about the article In love until their last days
My maternal grandparents, Kali Pada & Sukriti Chakrabertti with their daughters, son and several nephews & nieces. Calcutta, West Bengal. 1970

My maternal grandparents, Kali Pada & Sukriti Chakrabertti with their daughters, son and several nephews & nieces. Calcutta, West Bengal. 1970 Image and Narrative contributed by Anupam Mukerji, Mumbai This picture was photographed on March 9, 1970 on the occasion of my maternal grandparents Kali Pada and Sukriti Chakrabertti's 25th marriage anniversary (seated middle), at their home, 63, PG Hossain Shah Road, Jadavpur, Calcutta (now Kolkata). Here, they are with their daughters Sarbari, Bansari and Kajori, their son Sovan, and several nephews and nieces. After graduating from school with a gold medal in East Bengal's Dhaka Bickrampore Bhagyakul district, the young teenager, Kali Pada Chakraberti moved to Calcutta. He began working while continuing his education in an evening college. The office he worked at was also his shelter for the night. Desperate for money to pay his college examination fees, he went to a pawn-shop in Calcutta's Bow Bazaar to sell his gold medal. The pawn broker at the shop however was a gentle and generous elderly man. He lent my grandfather the money without mortgaging the gold medal. Years later when my grandfather went back to the shop to return the money, he found that his benefactor had passed away and his son refused to accept the money stating he couldn't, because his father had left no records of that loan. My grandfather then established  a Trust with that money to help underprivileged students with their education. Bhai, as all his grandchildren fondly called him, graduated from college with distinction and built a successful career in the field of Insurance. He rose to a senior position in a public sector insurance company. He also bought a plot of land in Jadavpur and built the…

Continue ReadingIn love until their last days