Shakti Prasad has sold vegetables in New Market, Kolkata, with his brother and business partner for ten years.

In Kolkata’s historic New Market, tradition, life and decay co-exist under one roof

Stories of survival, joy and despair from a 141-year-old institution.

Tom Price
Tom Price
May 11, 2016 · 15 min read

Mohammad Hussain Khan, 43

Mohammad

Mohammad’s family has been working in New Market for around 35 years.

Asadullah, 40

Asadullah

Asadullah’s name means ‘Lion of God’. When I met him, he was ferociously thrashing ice inside a plastic woven sack, breaking the large block down by pounding it with an iron pole.

Sheikh Alamgir, 35

Sheikh Alamgir

Normally closed today, Sheikh Alamgir and three of his staff have opened their stall to prepare a large order of beef for a local restaurant.

Ramzan Sheikh, 45

Ramzan

Originally from a village near the Sunderbans, where the Ganges pours into the Bay of Bengal, Ramzan started work in the market when he was only 15. 30 years later he now owns his own turkey (or ‘Chinese chicken’) stall in the bird section of the market.

Sudeep Dhara, 28

Sudeep

Proud of the heritage and prestige of owning a stall, Sudeep enjoys mixing with all the different people that frequent the market.

Akram Ali Khan, 26

Akram

Akram has worked here since he was 20 years old, joining the flow of people from his rural village, and now delivers chickens to the market traders from all over Kolkata.

Sairap, 65

Sairap

Sanwar, 23

Sanwar

Sanwar’s brother travelled from his village in South 24 Parganas and set up a shop selling chickens in New Market fifteen years ago.

Umesh Kumar, 30

Umesh

Umesh is sorting through deliveries of fruit in the store area of his shop when I arrive. He’s worked here for ten years and now runs the fruit shop that his uncle started. He’s busy and, at first, a little wary of the attention.

Rafique Alam, 52

Rafique

Ismael

Ismael

Ismael sits on the butcher’s slab in the ‘mutton’ section of the market, relaxing in the afternoon after a long morning’s work.

Raqueeb, 14

Raqueeb

Many, like Raqueeb, start their career in the market at a young age. Learning the skills of their trade means getting stuck in with all parts of the process and an apprenticeship is often very ‘hands on’.

Golam Mustafa Sheikh, 50

Golam

Golam has worked in the market for half his life, taking on the fifty-year-old family business from his father and his grandfather before him. He sells his eggs in bulk on large pallets, regularly selling over 4000 eggs in a single day.

Naushad Sheikh, 30

Naushad

At the end of a day only a few pineapples, watermelon and two solitary papaya remain at Naushad’s stall at the edge of the market.

Atish, 20

Atish

Fresh from his studies, Atish has been working in the shop his uncle owns for a year. Now he’s about to start running it.

Purna Manna, 62

Purna

Purna stands outside the vegetable stall where he works. Vegetables are stacked up neatly, forming orderly blocks of colour.

Mohammed Lokman, 25

Mohammed

Mohammed selects a bird from the woven bamboo and string net baskets where the chickens are kept until chosen for sale.

Sandeep Chiney, 48

Sandeep

Jamsher Ali, 62

Jamsher

When he was a boy, Jamsher was brought to Kolkata to look for work by someone in Diamond Harbour, his village in West Bengal.

Mohammed Alauddin, 51

Mohammed


Vantage

Perspectives on Visual Storytelling

Tom Price

Written by

Tom Price

Photographer and writer / London, UK www.tomalprice.com

Vantage

Vantage

Perspectives on Visual Storytelling