Saturday, August 08, 2009

And quietly goes the Tram….

The stretch from the bus stop to Taratolla on my way home from work is about 5 kms. A long stretch of tram line from Joka to Behala Tram Depot acts as road divider. Two sets of tracks – one up and down, with swathes of grass [Green in winter, burnt brush in summer and overgrown tangle in monsoons] on either side and in between, where the lamp posts usually are.

8 months of commuting and yet I am constantly amazed at the denizen’s innovative uses of this divider and to their obliviousness to the incredible chaos all around. This stretch of road has possibly the highest density of population, buses, rickshaw, cyclists, pedestrians, jay walkers, police men, pollution – air and noise, in Kolkata at least, if not in the world. [Small mercies that I can strike auto from this list after the 1st August ban on vehicles more than 15 years old]!

Not long ago, just before the elections, I was shocked one night to see a serenely suicidal Agnikanya Mamata Bannerjee hands folded on the tram tracks. It was a lifelike cut out…but it had given me quite a few anxious moments.

A bustling haat springs up on a ½ kilo meter stretch near the bus stop in the mornings. Vendors with veggies spread on tarps, fish seller squatting at huge ‘bontis’ cheek by jowl with florists who sell mostly withered gladiolis, pujor phool, rajanigandha and nursery displaying their wares on mobile bamboo frames strung up with ferns and all sorts of beautiful foliage in pots! The swathes where they sell their wares are not very wide…but they have it measured to the millimetre and neither they nor the customers pay the slightest attention to passing trams.

Of course the overhead electric lines might snap and fall. That has not happened yet and only a non-resident like me can think of something like that.

There are different haats at regular intervals. In the evening, various stretches are converted into open stores selling wooden furnitures, shital pati madur store and on puja eve statues of Lakshmi, saraswati, Ganesh, jhulan [before Rath] and what not. In the evenings of our stuffy, moist, clammy, humid, never ending summers, pajama-panjabi clad oldies hold their evening addas on these swathes, believe it or not. Seated on plastic stools and chairs that they have carted from their homes just off the Diamond Harbour Road, sipping tea from khullars or plastic cups, discussing world affairs and their solutions no doubt, a world unto themselves despite the traffic on full swing on either side.

And amid all this, in all the ponderous majesty carried on from a previous era, quietly goes the Tram.


sankarshan said...

One hears that the tracks become more lively as the evening progresses. This was bound to happen anyway. For example, the area under the Taratolla flyover is a classic case of becoming a "commercial" zone.

Does the Joka-BehalaTramDepot segment still function ? There was a time when that was one of the sweetest rides in the city along side the route that takes you all the way across the Maidan and, the one which came down to Ballygunge TramDepot via Rashbehari. Not a lot of folks agree with me on the latter route but it was by far the best if you could score a seat and, then start reading.

I always hear about the DH Road being made a NH and, the tram tracks getting off. Also, there's this infrequent talk of a monorail. With the unplanned construction mess that is Behala and, the non-existent sewage structure, it won't be long before it becomes a place to stay away from.

ps: Google/Blogspot must be lazy.This is the third time that I had the same captcha on your blog.

Sukanya C said...

What is "captcha"?

The tram are still plying joka to tram depot and back. And yes one does hear the faint rumours of mono rails...but one wisely ignores it point speculating on the unspeculatable.

Swati said...

Ah the tram and the hustle bustle of a regular Cal road...irritating when you're there, but you start missing these very things when you're away. Not that Delhi doesn't have its share of the colourful and crazy, kintu Kolkata is Kolkata what with the tram and all...

sankarshan said...

Captcha is that word/phrase (challenge-response based) you have to type in to demonstrate that you are a homo sapien and, not a zombie bot.

Sukanya C said...

Ok. But really not much difference 'tween the 2, me thinks...mostly that is.

Balajee said...

Hi Sukanya.. I don't know if you remember me, as you were quite young when we met. I am your brother's friend - Balajee. It's been many years.

I see that good writing runs in the family too. That's great. I am really thrilled to see your writing. My best wishes always..

BTW, what happened to Sougata???

Sukanya C said...

Hi Balajee,

Thanks for stopping by and your kind comments on my writing. But I think you have mistaken me for some one else. I donot have a brother. And the only Sougata I know is a fellow blogger who is still blogging. :-)

Read if you will

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