West Bengal in the throes of change – Article by Prabir Ghose


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West Bengal in the throes of change

 

Prabir Ghose

 

All Bengalis who live away from Bengal and feel homesick at regular intervals must have known by now that West Bengal is going through a phase of paribartan – or change. Beginning with its name – henceforth West Bengal is Paschim Banga… please note for reference.

It has finally come to pass – West Bengal is in the throes of change. Everyone is upbeat about how Kolkata would be transformed to London, how the River Ganga would resemble the Thames, how Darjeeling would offer competition to Switzerland. We are also expecting a film city to come up in Uttarpara on the banks of the Ganges – so that Bengali film folk need not go to other cities to process their films.

Then there was a really good idea worth emulating… listening to strains of Rabindrasangeet (Tagore songs) as one waited at the traffic crossings for the light to change from red to green. The system was introduced; however, some mischief mongers stole the USB drives from the music systems! Unless the attitude of the masses change, such innovations would, obviously, be meaningless.

Alongside these efforts to change the mindset of Bengalis is the removal of obnoxious hoardings from the roads – it would have been real good if one could have looked at the blue skies once in a while, instead of always living under the shadows of heroes who promote cold drinks or heroines who promote body lotions or deodorant sprays…

Renaming all landmarks after Tagore or Nazrul Islam might be laudable, but simultaneously there are many other areas that need to be improved. Actually, to think of it, landmarks should remain as the old more familiar names… moreover, the youth of today might find it hard to relate to complicated names – this is the age of SMS and abbreviations, the hi-bye, LOL, gr8 etc …

However, while the number of Sarbojanin Durga Pujas has gone up from 1200 in 2004 to nearly 2500 this year, Bengalis have lost out on those fast foods like tele-bhaja and moghlai paranthas… it is now the age of pizzas and momos. And – in the category of sweets one of the newest entrants is the sandesh meant for the diabetic, the sugar free sweet. More paribartan…

One remembers the only ‘mall’ in the Kolkata of the 60s – it was the Kamalalaya Stores on Dharamtolla Street… in its premises one could spend the whole day looking at and purchasing items from clothes to bedrolls to toys; the establishment even had a cafeteria for refreshments… in those days there was no plastic money and it was a different style of life…

Old-timers like me feel helpless in the malls of today where buy-2-get-one-free is the mantra …



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