Moska Najib & Nazes Afroz

“…‘O Kabuliwala! Kabuliwala!’ and the two friends, so unequal in age, would subside into their old laughter and their old jokes…” so wrote Rabindranath Tagore in 1892, in his short story in Bengali, Kabuliwala, about a man from a distant land –– Afghanistan –– living in Calcutta [now Kolkata]. Since then, Kabuliwala has been translated into many Indian and foreign languages with cinematic adaptations and theatrical performances. While until a few decades ago, “real” Kabuliwalas were a common sight on the streets of Kolkata, as in most cities of north, west and central India, stereotypes have formed an ambiguous image of these people today. Moska Najib and Nazes Afroz, two journalist-cum-photographers, co-document the Kabuliwalas of Kolkata, tracing the social transformations within this community over the past 100 years.

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