To go to my Grandma's place from Gray Street mor (crossing), I would have to go East and then South. My current position being quite South with respect to Gray Street mor, all I needed to do now would be to walk East, and probably a wee little to the North. Also considering my father's penchant for exploring places on foot; by discovering new shortcuts, I would only be following the family tradition. (See Map below)
Thinking thus,I entered a lane hitherto untraversed by me. Sometimes, when you enter a strange place, you feel a bit unsafe. You view the people on the streets with a bit of suspicion. Not so here - firstly it was broad daylight and I'm a guy. Plus these people are Calcuttans - the people of my city.
After a few paces, I turned a corner. There were some shops here and quite a few people too. What struck me immediately the difference with what one would see down in South Calcutta. The shops were plain and paati. People here did bother about how they looked - remember one middle aged yet changra bhadralok wearing lungi and an unbuttoned shirt, walking as if he owned the street. He would look quaintly out of place if placed in any of the fashionable
malls of South Calcutta.
Such differences within a few miles of the same city!!
As I worked my way through the labyrinth that is North Calcutta, I got lost once. But it was a treat walking through those shoru oli-goli's. Peeping into the houses, it felt as if I was looking back in time. These houses are completely unlike any upcoming building of today. Some showed the signs of age - appearing dark and damp. A tubewell standing sentry beside the gate - the flooring crumbling and covered with moss at many places.
Again some houses boasted majestic facades and were still maintained beautifully. There is a saying that establishments are built by one generation of a family, maintained by the next and ruined by the third. Probably this ineluctable process of decay had forgotten to visit these houses.
After a while, I found out the right path to my Grandma's. I wished then that I had a digital camera to share these images of a different world with others.
A sample of the elegance of North Calcutta houses that I found on the Net
PS : The sights and sounds reminded me of Rituparno Ghosh's "Raincoat"... kudos to him for creating such beautiful imagery.