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Lanes, bylanes and meanders

Every individual has a ‘passion’. Some can identify it, while some, cannot. Fortunately, I did! Surprisingly, as I thought – trying to do everything was my passion. It seems strange? I know.

In search of the means to realize my passion, I had made a bucket list of all my interests and desires. Luckily today I got to tick one-off that list.

The gullies

Everyone loves to travel. There are many versions with many levels of the desires and passions expressed – Some say, “I want to travel India….” while some say- “I want to go for a World Tour…”, and lots more of such wide interests.

I admit, even I had such. But somewhere inside, I had this deep want of exploring my own city – Kolkata. Surprisingly, I had become a stranger at my ‘own’ place, alienated from its old charms, heritage, and aura.

Kolkata is a city of emotions and I felt it deeply today. I got my mentor who accompanied me to have a walk through the lanes and by-lanes of the city.

A walk through the less recognized, lost architecture of the city unfolded many stories in every alley.

The morning charm

So we started from Sovabazar (read Shobhabajar – which sounds more close to the Bong Heart!); walked till the Baghbazar ghat, had a Ferry Ride to Ahiritola Ghat and walked back to our starting point.

But my concern is not the route or the streets that we had taken, but the variety of lifestyles I had noticed throughout.

The Pre and Post-Colonial houses, that still boasts to give you a unique historical feel of the Colonial Period, their specific patterns of arch-shaped windows and brickwork and the hanging verandas, colorfully studded and painted doors, the big pillared houses were something you don’t get to see every day right?

The Ghats along the roadside had people sitting, of all ages – some looking for a bit of peace from the city chaos and the younger generation having their regular adda by the riverside, lost in the whiffs of smoke or sipping on tea from terracotta cups (read Cha-er Bhar, to soothe the mind!).

Adda has been flowing in the blood of the Bengalis and these small pockets of the city stills display the places, voices, and visuals, in their true senses.

Old city, new souls

We treated us with tea and some breakfast at the street shops, all famous for their specific and unique food items. The modern restaurants and cafe culture have somewhat restricted their existence and prosperity, but they are still famous in the lanes of North Kolkata.

As we observed, the places had their own lethargic lifestyle in the fall-winter mornings. While having the launch/ferry ride I got to see a different
scene.

Talking about the river Hooghly (Ganga: Don’t get confused!) and her view is something we all have experienced at some time.

Though the pollution and the smog restricted the view I could still see the flying migratory ducks practicing their last lapses, before starting off their long journey back home, the temples on the other side of the river, sparingly visible and the second Hooghly Bridge.

The people there were all going to their work, hurrying to get up for a seat in the launch and it felt like we were the only purposeless roamers in there.

There was in fact a purpose, for each people, we meet in our lives and walk together with, always has a purpose.

The wall frescos and graffiti attracted our sight depicting the culture of the city: their religious thoughts, political outburst, and the general mindset of the inhabitants of the oldest part of Kolkata.

Walking through the lanes of Kumurtuli pally was again a different experience.

The idols we worship for our pujas, the making of them; how they bring the exact expression on the face of the statues to depict the emotion so that the people could relate seeing them is something we can’t encounter in our 9 to 5 work life. The skill was at its zenith, the same was my awe.

“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare? ”

A pause in our busy life

So, in the regular busy schedule, one day of standing, staring, and exploring the city was nothing less than a dream come true.

The emotions of the city

What makes me get lost in deep thoughts is the fact that we have enormous scope for the development of tourism in Kolkata. Are we exploring the full potential and possibilities?

We are trying, but I feel the process needs to be revised. The old houses, breathing their last breath, which essentially gives the actual feel of old Kolkata – be it the Lord Curzon’s temporary residence or the Rosogolla Bari – the house of the first makers of Rosogolla or the Kumurtuli Pally should be revived and propagated in a way that they can become the major places of tourist attraction.

The city breathes in the lanes and by-lanes, life flows like blood. We are developing, but by ‘erasing’ and demolishing our past.

We are building five-storied buildings in the name of development but if that essence of old Kolkata could be brought to life among the developmental activities we could be creating moments of history because Kolkata has embodied the Colonial Culture, it’s Architecture and its Soul in her, like no city, has done.

The baghbazar ferry ghat

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