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With its wide tree-lined streets flanked by gracefully deteriorating colonial-era architecture, the eastern Indian city of Kolkata evokes intense memories of another part of the world that is at once close and far away: London.

Kolkata is like a sub-continental, Dickensian otherworld. The city’s old buildings have crenellated façades pockmarked by patches of peeling paint. There are Victorian fountains, the rambling Alipore Zoo and roundabouts. Indeed, city planners conceived Calcutta – as it was then known – as a kind of mini London. The city was…


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