Alone and Waiting – The Armenians of Calcutta

The Armenians first came to Calcutta over 200 years ago. They were a thriving community and built landmark buildings, hotels, owned coal mines, had colorful lives, and added to cultural milieu of Calcutta.

Today, though, its a different story. Most Armenians have left the city. Those who remain are the old and aging. Alone & waiting.

Charles Sarkies came to Calcutta as a 12 year old boy to study in the Armenian Free School. The school was set up 190 years ago. He never went back to Iran (where he came from) or met his parents. He married in the city, worked in the coal mines of Dhanbad, had children and built a life for himself and his family.

His family now has migrated to Australia, but he likes to live in Calcutta, the city he says,  gave him everything.

He spends his time doing accounts,

reminiscing about the past,

playing cards,


lying on his cold iron bed.

and waiting at the cemetery.

Mac & Jenny have been living in an old age home for the past 20 years. Mac has been unwell all through  and unable to work.

Jimmy is confined to the bed.

His wife Irvina is the great grand daughter of one of Calcutta’s most illustrious Armenians. She is embarrassed by the manifestations of old age.

But there is love in their small world even though they are waiting.



7 thoughts on “Alone and Waiting – The Armenians of Calcutta

  1. i am swayed by the work you are doing alaka…you are doing a great work…am waiting to see more…

  2. THAT IS OUR UNCLE CHARLIE (CHA CHA). WE HAVE KNOWN HIM SINCE I WAS BORN ! A DELIGHTFUL MAN WHO LIVED + ENJOYED LIFE TO THE FULL. HE WILL BE SADLY MISSED; AND YES, THE ARMENIANS IN CALCUTTA USED TO BE A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH AT ONE TIME. THEY WERE VERY SUCCESSFUL AND BUILT UP BIG BUSINESSES IN HOTELS ETC. A LOT OF ARMENIANS ALSO WENT INTO THE COAL MINING BUSINESS IN ASANSOL AND DHANBAD, AS DID MY FATHER.
    ARMEN

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