As I boarded the quaint looking noka (Bengali for boat) from the jetty at Princep Ghat for a leisurely joy ride in the waters of River Hoogly, I felt as though the city had finally managed to redeem itself. Kolkata had somehow managed to save herself amongst the crowded malls, noisy Bollywood music-blaring paras and the detestable traffic. The true flavour of the city seemed to come back to me. With the backdrop of the setting sun the sheer beauty of the parallel Vidyasagar Setu and Howrah Bridge beckoned.
I began to think of all the times I visited this city as a kid from a small hill station in the north-east. Wide eyed I would look all around and the wonders of the big city never failed to impress me. When our aircraft would land with a thud in the then-Calcutta, my heart would skip a beat. The amusement parks, shopping centers and various eateries enticed me to no end. Although a big city, I always felt at home there. I was a Calcuttan by birth, having spent the first few months of my life there at my grandparents house and probably that’s why I always felt a connection with the place. Over the years I had finally gotten over my rather worldly appreciation of the city and had begun to appreciate all things small and big about it. I felt an overwhelming feeling of bonhomie towards the city and sometimes it distressed me to see that things were changing.Whether it was a random walk through Park Street or the Christmas Eve celebrations at St. Pauls Cathedral, there were some things which I had to do every time I visited the city. Of all the little places which I had learnt to love, there was an ice-cream parlour called ‘Scoop’ situated next to the same jetty. Being an ardent fan of the banana split there I always liked everything about the place. It was not like the new uber cool ‘hangouts’ which had sprung up in South Calcutta. The view of the river along with the nostalgia I felt for the place I had developed some sort of a loyalty towards it. That day all the joy which I had always felt in Kolkata had returned. I pondered over the ‘city’ that truly intoxicated me with ‘joy’. Little did I know that the so-called everlasting joy which I felt was only momentary. It was as if somebody was calling me back from fools paradise , I looked to my left towards ‘Scoop’ and saw that the waste from the toilet there was being disposed directly into the river through a pipe which jutted out of the building. My ramblings down memory lane came to an abrupt halt. Vatsala Tibrewala
[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sanjoy/2344316186/]