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Hookah smoking in colonial Calcutta

Hookah smoking began in the royal courts of Mughal India, and like many other local customs, it was readily adopted by British colonials in the 18th century. But as Baijayanti Chatterjee explains, the hookah was much more than a smoking habit in Old Calcutta society. 

Words by Baijayanti Chatterjee

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About the author

Black and white headshot of Dr Baijayanti Chatterjee

Baijayanti Chatterjee


Dr Baijayanti Chatterjee teaches history at Seth Anandram Jaipuria College in Kolkata, India. An Old Calcutta enthusiast, she obtained her doctoral degree from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, for her research on 18th-century Bengal. Her work mainly focuses on the early British era, analysing the impact of the colonial transition on state, society and economy in 18th-century India.