Mr. & Mrs. Trinca
Updated: 5 days ago
“Serendipity” means finding something valuable by chance. This is a strange story of how history was found.
It’s December 2019. The band is tuning up for the evening. A guitar strums and a keyboardist trills through notes. Small red lamps cast warm glows on neatly set tables.
Sitting in a cozy booth at Trincas at 6:00 PM, I pore over neatly printed sheets of paper – one shows a family tree, another has information in German along with it's translation, the others pages have printed pictures and maps.
In front of me sit a couple - Heinz and Brigitte Schwank of Thun, Switzerland. We’ve met through chance and thanks to the power of the internet. They’ve brought me something I didn’t quite realize I would find – information and pictures on the origins of Trincas! Here’s our first email dated November 2019:
Dear Mr. X
Cinzio Trinca opened your restaurant in 1939 and ran it until 1960. On your Website and in the newspapers are hardly any information from this time. Why do I tell you this?
I work as a nurse in Thun (Switzerland). When I told a patient of mine that I will visite Kolkata during my next holidays she said, that the husband of her aunt had a restaurant in Kolkata, but she does not know if it still exists. The restaurant was called Trincas. After that conversation I found your website and some information on the internet. When I told my patient that I found your restaurant, she told me multiple interesting facts from those old times and showed me pictures of Mr. Cinzio and Mrs. Lilly Trinca in Kolkata. I could took 5 pictures form her old photoalbum. In case you are interested in those pictures and any further information, please let me know.
At this point in 2019, I am in the process of conceptualising and starting the Trincas Timeline Project. It’s to be a Community Based Memory Project. I want to collect people’s experiences of Trincas and build stories around them. Gathering these stories under one virtual roof would preserve the legacy of one of Calcutta’s icons and make it accessible to all.
I’m realising that every true blue Calcuttawala has a Trincas connection – whether personally or through one degree of separation. This is not merely a restaurant. It’s an institution and an integral part of the Calcutta experience!
Without knowing what I’ve been working on, the Schwanks have tracked me down from half a world away. They’ve brought me direct information from the Trinca family and pictures that I hadn’t thought I’d find.
My (late) grandparents Omi and Swaran Puri, and (their partner) Ellis Joshua bought the business in 1959. As the third generation, I know very little of what existed before that date. There are no pictures prior to 1959, and almost no one from that generation lives on today to pass on real facts and tell stories of the time.
If this cache of memories and pictures is not serendipity at a point when I’m about to start my quest for more information, what is? (follow the link at the end of the pictures to read the next part of the story and see pictures of the original Trinca-Flury Tearoom).
Lilly Trinca’s family tree had an attached picture (see below). Her niece - Marlys Studer-Volkart shared these pictures with us. They are from her family photo album. Brigitte Schwank (above), is elderly Mrs Volkart’s nurse.
The above graphic displayed at the museum at Metcalfe Hall in Kolkata is incorrect.
- Lilly and Cinzio Trinca were married in 1934 (5 years before Flury and Trinca split their business). - They continued to live happily together until their demise in 1975. - Trincas today is not a pub. It is a restaurant, music venue and heritage institution in the heart of Kolkata.
The Trincas Timeline Project is an exciting community-based memory project aimed at collecting stories, photos, and anecdotes going back 80 years.
It aims to cover not just Trincas’ storied history, but also provide glimpses of ‘the Park Street Scene’ and Calcutta/Kolkata as it has evolved over the last (almost!) century.
The project focuses on history, culture, music and food by connecting with patrons, musicians, celebrities and historians.
Anecdotes, photos and interviews are converted into short blog posts documenting the personal connections that so many Calcuttans past and present have with this iconic institution.
The goal is to collect a living history of sorts under one virtual roof and create a cultural treasure-house for present and future generations.
Since this is an effort to reconstruct the past all Calcutta residents, fans and diaspora (now spread across the globe) are welcome to contribute memories, photographs and facts. We would love to hear from you!