Week Five: The Session

Date: December 24, 2007
Time: 6:00 – 8:00pm
Venue: Bow Bazaar Highschool

Session Five: The People in your Para

Share the Home Assignment from Previous Session

In a circle, read aloud the stories/articles each journalist wrote for their chosen landmarks. Share and discuss. If the assignment wasn’t completed, ask why? And what can change for next time in order to make sure all assignments are completed.

Reminder to Journalists: Remind Journalists that they have to complete assignment in order for us to progress as a group on our neighborhood narratives. As journalists, there are numerous stories occurring every day – and we need to keep up in terms of deadlines.

Pass out the Para Badges to each journalist.

Today’s Assignment: The People of your Para

Facilitator’s Introduction: In our para we see many types of people. Just like in many films, there are many types of different characters. There are villains, heroes, enemies, lovers, etc. Similarly, in our para there are different people who are embody different roles/characters.

Ask the group: Can you think of different people in your para? Brainstorm with the group and make a note of the names/types of people who come up.

Who is the most powerful person in your para?
Who is the weakest person in your para?
Who is the most successful person in your para?
Who is the most oppressed in your para?
Who is the happiest person in your para?
Who is the scariest person in your para?
Who is the most trustworthy person in your para?

  1. Divide the participants into a total of 3 groups. Each group chooses a character and discusses what questions they would ask/what are the problems they anticipate while interviewing this character in person.
  2. Now two volunteers come up from each group and act out the interview process. One of them can act as the character while the other may act as the interviewer. Each group gets feedback from the rest of the participants and the facilitators. This dummy interview prepares them for facing these different people in the real world.
  3. One of them can act as the character while the other may act as the interviewer. This dummy interview prepares them for facing these different people in the real world.

Take Home Journalist Assignment: Personality Profiles
Divide the participants into pairs. Assign them one neighborhood personality (which emerged from the discussion) to interview. Ask them to include photos in their article.

Check Out
How was this session like? Good/bad/okay okay?
How do you feel about participating in the coming sessions? 1 word

Youth Writing: Vignettes of the Homes of Bow Bazaar

In Session Four, the participants had been assigned to go to the home of a friend, research it, take photos and write an article on it. On day five, the writers brought their writing to the sessions and shared their pieces. Some had covered the home of the friend in a question-answer format, while some had written in the form of an article very close to journalistic practice. The perspective was that of half insider, half outsider, a balance between being a friend belonging to the same neighbourhood, as well as a journalist. The stories follow in English translations. All photographs were taken by the journalists themselves on a Nikon SLR with black and white film.

Tulu's Home
by Pinky Lal

TuluTheir home is four storeys high. The steps are small. It is deserted in the mornings. The smell of garbage. In the afternoons, the smell of cooking comes from all the rooms. In the early afternoon, the sound of people squabbling. All of their rooms are smallish; they have trouble sleeping. He thinks if their rooms were a little bigger, it would have been nice. The house is built of cement, sand and brick. There is a banyan tree in their home. The house is quite old. This means, if the tree is cut down, their house may fall down too. The banyan tree is good for the summertime because a wind blows, and there is shade. In the winter it is not good since the sunlight does not fall properly and there is no wind. Trees are always beneficial for us because they give us oxygen.

Their room is very small. If a couple of guests come, they can sit in the room. If there are more, they have to be seated on the rooftop. They will sleep outside and let the guests sleep in the room. There is no temple in their house. Birds fly about in their room. There are pictures of gods in their

room.A portrait of Tulu by Pinky He really likes the staircase, because, if he ever feels sadness in his heart, he goes and sits on the steps and feels lighter.

He has friends but he does not tell them anything. He just sits on the steps. He wants to change the rooms because they are very small and they have difficulty managing to sleep there. Their rooftop is small too. The place where the tap is set into the wall feels cold, so do the floors. The place where the cooking happens is a little larger.

He desires to grow in life, study more and become a worthy human being. He also desires to bring up his two brothers to become good human beings. He will stand beside his parents when he grows up. He will look after them as much as he can. There is a bathroom in the ground floor of their home. A bad odour comes out from there. He wants the bathroom to be cleaned, but since nobody says anything, he also doesn’t say anything. He thinks, since everyone else does not smell anything bad, then he can do nothing even if he smells it. He has to live with it. If he was able to, he would have had the bathroom cleaned. He hopes never to do anything sinful in his life. The path he treads should never be the path of sin. None of his days go well because his home is so small; he always has to sit on the steps.

An Interview on Salman's Home
by Puja


What can be seen immediately on entering your home?
Immediately on entering the home, the drinking water tap can be seen.

What smell do you get at first? At first, you’ll get the smell of chullu in my house.

What sound do you get on entering the house? On entering the house, I hear the sound of quarreling.

What is your favorite thing in your house? In my house, my most favorite thing is my pillow.

What is your house made of? It is made of brick, cement, sand, iron and stone.

What is the history of your house? Earlier our house was much better. Slowly slowly it’s becoming dirty. Previously the residents were good, nowadays they are becoming jealous.

What image do you remember? I remember a scene of football playing.

Salman’s Home, photograph by Puja

Robi's Home
by SurojitRobi’s Home, by Surojit

I saw the meter box immediately on entering Robi’s home. The bathroom, a staircase just beside that. I could smell food cooking. I could hear the sounds of people, children yelling. I touched the flowers on the tree there. Robi’s mother’s name is Shefali Mondol. She does household work. They are living in this house for 18 years. They are surrounded by relatives like uncles and aunties, cousin, grandfather.

How do those who live at home spend their day? Elder uncle and father do electric work, and elder aunt is an ayah at Medical College Hospital. Apart from this, more or less everyone does household work, also going out for work sometimes.

How many people at home? In their room itself, three people live, whereas in the house there are forty people in all.

What is the house made of? The house is made of cement and sand.

Tania Mondol’s Home
by Joytsna

Tania Mondol’s home is inside a gali (an alley) on Madan Dutta Lane. The alley appears clean and quiet. On entering there house, I noticed a deserted alley with only a couple moving about. I saw Tania’s elder aunt cooking and her grandma sleeping. Her mother was sitting. I smelt egg frying and spice paste being cooked. I felt the coldness of the wind blowing and heard the sound of the khunti (cooking handle) moving about in the kadai (cooking utensil).


There are seven people in their home – Tania’s parents, brother, elder aunt and uncle and grandmother. Tania’s mother, elder aunt and grandma do the cooking, fetch in water, wash utensils as well as clothes. Her father and elder uncle work outside. Her brother plays at home, while Tania goes to school. The house is made of cement, sand, brick, iron rods and bamboo.

Tania likes the Narayan temple in her home, as the god there is known to be very alive and the temple is small but beautiful. What she doesn’t like about their home is the scarcity of water. Water hardly comes in. Even when it comes in, it stays for a very short period. An old fact about their home is that, in older days, when their home was built of earth, a lot of quarrelling used to happen between the members of the family. When it was changed to cement, then the quarrelling also lessened. The atmosphere is good now, and the ones who live there now live well.

Jyotsna’s Home
by Robi

What do you see on entering their home? You come upon a mirror directly on entering the home.
Joytsna’s Home
What smells do you get there?
I can smell acid here.

What sounds? Here I can hear people conversing.

What do you like in your home? My bed.

What is your home made of? Sand, cement.

Who are the people living in your home and what do they do? Mother, father, brother, elder sister. Mother works in a hospital, father has his tea stall. Brother and I go to school while elder sister stays at home.

What is an old fact about your home? Earlier our house was earthen, and dogs lived here. Thereafter the earthen house was broken down and a cement home was built, and we started to live here. There is a temple in our house, and a banyan tree has taken root inside that.

Pinky Lal’s Home
by Supriya

Their landlord is very good. His name is Sambhu Sen. Their house id 4 storeys high. The stairs are very dark. In the part where there is the tap, you can always hear the sound of buckets. The sound of quarrels also, sometimes. People of three different kinds of origin live in their home – Oriya, Hindustani and Bangali. You get the smell of smoke here both in the morning and in the evening. In the 4th storey, only four rooms are big while the rest are small. Otherwise, the rest of the rooms in all the other storeys are on the smaller side. Despite the small size of the rooms, they don’t face any problem. Their home is made of sand and cement.

They are three people in their immediate family- her parents and Pinky. Because of the poverty in the family, her mother works as a domestic help in people’s homes. Her father works with sand, cement and colours. But now their days are going by in a much better way. She wants to study more. She also wants to learn the computer. She wants to be there for her parents when she grows up. She wants to look after them according to her capability. She wants to stand on her own feet, she doesn’t want to marry.

The roof on top of the fourth storey is a favorite place of hers. If she is sad for any reason, she feels lighter when she goes up and spends time on the roof. She doesn’t like the steps in her home, since they are very muddy and are only cleaned when some programme is coming up at home, never otherwise. In the night time, it feels like a haunted house. There is a big Jagannath temple in their house. There are also four shishu trees in her home. There are five toilets in their home. There are only two tiled rooms in their house; all the other rooms have tin roofs. The verandah outside the rooms is like another room by itself. There is a separate place where all their utensils are stored.

Anjali's Home
by Rahul

For the last 16-17 years, Anjali has been living with her family in the second storey of a house within the slum located close by Shakharitola Post office on Shoshibhushan Dey Street. There are 6 members in her family—her father, mother, three brothers and herself. Anjali’s home doesn’t really live up to what she would like it to be. Anjali dreams of a home with cement roofs and walls of brick, cement and concrete, with solid staircase leading up to the upper floor – but these have not come true. Anjali’s family and her home are not unknown to me. But I stumbled at every step when I tried to write an article about her home.

The main door has recently been repaired by the Kolkata Corporation, which has replaced the wooden structure with one made of iron. The door is green in colour. Crossing the door, there is a small room on the left, and adjacent to that, there are wooden stairs leading up to the upper floor. These look quite firm and solid, but while climbing up them they sway a lot. The floor upstairs looks rather roughly put together, broken at places, and going up and down randomly. In the second floor, a total of four families live, including Anjali’s. All the rooms are small-ish, made of tin and tiles.

All three brothers work, they are not at home all day. Her parents are both working. Anjali’s room is small, about 12 or 10 feet, but neat and clean and tasteful. What does the room not contain! There is bed, small showcase, TV, music system—and once you sit on the floor you can see various cooking utensils neatly stacked. The bed has been raised up using four-five bricks. The room has been divided into two parts—space is very limited yet very well done up. Anjali’s room is light sky blue. The roof tiles are covered with a plastic sunshade. One of the advantages of this is that no electric lights need to be used during the day. Also, because of this, the room remains quite bright. The cd player was on at low volume. The odour of kerosene coming from the recently turned down stove seemed to bring down the temperature all the more in the already cool room.

Anjali’s Home

Anjali is now a student of standard twelve, due to appear for her Higher Secondary exams. She is quite a bright student at Victoria Institution School. She dreams of standing on her own feet when she grows up. The school she used to attend before being a morning school, Anjali had to get up early. But now this school starts later, and so she gets up in the morning only at 8.She freshens up, has tiffin, and then sits down to study according to routine. School is at 11, it gets over at 4.30, when she returns home, only to attend coaching classes from 5 onwards. She returns home at 8, has tiffin, watches TV, does her studies too. This is the same routine for her, be it summer, monsoon or winter.

On holidays, she leaves this tin cage of hers and goes off to her country home with her family. Anjali is quite happy living with her family in this house with its tin walls, its tiled roof, its fragile staircase and its shared bathroom. Her most favorite thing in the house is her bookshelf, which she loves dearly. But she is scared too. If suddenly one day the tiled roof and the tin walls collapse, how is she to save her most favorite possession? So she dreams of her own house with a firm, stable roof over her head.

Surojit’s homeBy Apurbo  

What Surojit likes about his home

In his home, Surojit’s favorite place is the wall of his rooftop, which he has been seeing since childhood. However he does not go there all the time. Only when he gets some time off, he goes there in the evening and enjoys himself in solitude. The place looks quite old. The rain has left its marks on it.  The dry smell of moss, the wind blowing freely, and the silence – all these make it a very romantic spot.


What Surojit does not like about his home

What Surojit dislikes the most about his home is the disorganized way in which they keep the water bucket here and there on the floor. Even though they own the place, no one has bothered to protest. Once you enter through the gate, the stairs are to the right. The place is small, and slippery with water. Accidents can happen any time.  A kind of damp, rotting smell emanates from the place. The place is filled with water buckets. This creates a lot of problems for the people who live here, yet they compromise and stay on. Surojit also has to compromise.


Tapas’ homeBy Anjali  

A good looking house is visible from a distance. There is a garden, there beautiful flowers are blooming. The trees are fruit laden. The house is painted light violet. The adjoining house is my friend Supriya’s. Her house is also beautiful, similar to mine. Robi and Sushmita also live nearby.  We all go to the same school. We go and return by bus. After returning from school, we go to tution classes on our own transport. We do our studies and then play the remaining time. We do not have to do any other work…

Suddenly I hear mother saying, “Tapas, get up, it’ nearly 9.30. Don’t you have school?”

On awakening, I find myself in my bed.  I realize that I’ve been dreaming all along. Mother tells me, “Your father and brothers have already gone out to work, and you’re still in bed!”

 I freshen up then and all of us make our way to school. But not in our own car, on foot. On the way I keep on thinking about my dream. At school also I daydream about it all the time. But when I return home from school, down our gali, something moves inside me. The heart twists when I look at my actual home. Our home is three storeys high. We live on the rooftop. Brick walls, tin shade. In the walls, the bricks are crumbling away, the paint peeling from them.  The house is not our own – it is rented. The house is quite old, nearly 80-90 years old. My father says that earlier there were jungles and fields here. This house is very different from the one I had seen in my dreams. Unlike the dream home, it does not have a garden, it does not have open spaces. Here the buildings have been clumsily built side by side; no air or light comes in. However, my room lets in air and light, since it is situated on the rooftop. There is a common bathroom just beside my room. The house is located in an old locality of Central Calcutta. The place is not peaceful like it was in the dream. There is a constant bickering going on, since it is a red light locality. There is only one thing common between reality and the dream – the fact that Supriya, Sushmita and Robi, all of us live side by side. There are 6 families living on the rooftop. My room and Supriya’s room are nearly identical. Her room is small, mine is also small. There are colour TV s in both our rooms. I don’t like the place I am living in. However, I like my neighbours. There is a club room in the building. It is also in the same state. It would be good if someone dismantled this building and made a new home for us. In my surroundings, I like my friends best of all. I cannot do without them.

When I am thinking these things, a voice interrupts, “Tapas, go and fetch water.” On turning I come face to face with ma. I climb the dark stairs, up to my bedroom. After fetching water, I have some tiffin and then we all of us make our way to the tution class. After returning home, I have dinner. When I am about to go to bed, I think of only one thing, “Will my dream never come true?”

Youth Writing: Landmarks of Bow Bazaar

In Session 3, the participants had been given the following assignment to research and work on a Neighborhood Outing and Writing Take-Home Assignment. The youth journalists were instructed with the following guidelines:

What do you think is Bow Bazaar’s Landmark?Research your chosen landmark and write about its history. Ask friends, families, acquaintances about your chosen place and what they think about it, what they know about it, what personal/significant stories are related to it. Try to uncover any local stories, histories surrounding your chosen place.Keep in mind the Five Senses: Smell, Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste.Also, keep in mind you Gaze – you are Para Residents.

The participants were divided into 3 groups according to the place they had chosen as their favorite landmark – a local Punjabi hotel, the Bowbazaar Kali mandir and the Shiv Mandir.

At the beginning of session 4, youth journalists came to the workshop with their assignments. Some of them had rough and skeletal pieces of writing, while some had more detailed and lively vignettes.

Come read the about the selected Bow Bazaar Landmarks from these young writers. (All writings have been translated from Bangla to English).

Surojit's Bow Bazaar Landmark: The Famous Punjabi Hotel

As soon as you reach the Punjabi Hotel, what you hear first is the sound of conversations and the din of people who are going in. A light wind brings the smell of various food items to my nose. You can see shoe shops, the vegetables in the market being bought and sold. The touch of food items from the hotel and the fuchka. It is a very old hotel. Earlier it was renowned, everyone knew of it. Besides, the proprietor of the place was a friend of my mother’s.

Rahul's Bow Bazaar Landmark: Bow Bazaar Kali Mandir

The sound of many bells, conch-shells so that my chest trembles from the impact. The priest is continually fanning the deities. The aarti is happening with lamps, the sound of mantras, all of it makes my heart beat faster. The light perfume of the incense brings on a light, wafting mood. The gentle wind blowing in the light perfume of flowers makes one drowsy. The darkened spirit wants to run away to seclusion, but still I continue to stand, maybe because the puja is going on.

It makes me wonder to see people saying things to the earthen deities – what are they saying? To whom? And why are they saying these things? I have random thoughts about all this, still I continue to stand. Once the puja gets over, without registering it consciously, I do what has become second nature—bow my head in front of the god, do namashkar and go away.

Jyotsna's Bow Bazaar Landmark: Southern Kalibari

I had gone to a temple, which is called Southern Kalibari. It was established on 9th maagh, 1410 (Bangla calendar). It had been set up by Sri Chunilal Bej and Srimoti Nilima Bej. I felt very good here. It was small but very beautiful. It had so many deities. There was a big temple with a big idol of Kali ma inside. There were also some puja ingredients inside. After coming out of this temple and walking onward a little, there were 3 smaller temples, one with Shiv bhagvan inside, the other with Ganesh and the remaining with idols of Ram and Sita. The puja happens from 7-8am in the morning everyday. During this time, you can hear the conch-shells and bells. Many people stand and watch the puja and aarti going on. The deity is swept by a brush. After the puja, some people eat the prasad and go away, while some others stay behind.

Everybody says that the deities are very alive here. Whatever you ask from the mother, you receive for sure. The annual festival of the temple happens with a lot of fanfare. The deity is newly dressed up in with sari and jewels. Everybody is fed khichuri. When you come out of the mandir, there is a grocery shop. Beside this, there is a shop selling lassi. The atmosphere is very good here.

Tulu's Bow Bazaar Landmark: Shiv Mandir

Sound of bells. The smell of meat, fruit and fish. I can see tea stalls, sweet shops, book shops, pharmacy shops, vegetable stalls and stalls selling chapattis, chowmein. There are many people, many vehicles, lot of din. I can see people tucking into fuchkas.

Many Youth Journalists didn't get around to writing substantial pieces on a selected landmark. However, they did write and share their observations from their collective walk through the Shiv Mandir neighbourhood.

Puja Dolui Sounds- In the morning, the honking of buses and taxis. In the afternoon, everything quiet and deserted. In the night, sound of bells and some traffic. Smell- The smell of traffic smoke, smell of meat coming from the butcher’s, the smell of vegetables, smell of medicine coming from the pharmacy, smell of incense from the temple.Sights- yellow coloured Shiv temple, surrounded by crowds, a banyan tree, selling of fruit and vegetables in the morning. In the night, a light shines out from the temple. There are a number of meandering lanes and by-lanes. Many helpless people on the streets. Touch- Bumping into people walking on the roads. About the mandir- The temple looks very old. When I had gone to visit, the temple was closed. We are seeing this temple from childhood onwards.

Tapos: Bells are ringing, smell of incense. On touching the temple, I felt it must be made of marble. Mutton is being sold nearby. Smell of chowmein. Vegetables being sold. It is not too crowded. Hotels, sweet shops, pharmacies, a hanging picture of a small boy. A poster of Mohini Mohon Kanjilal and sons. A saloon called Bhuvan. I had gone there with some questions. My grandfather had first brought me to Boubazar. Fuchka and ghugni being sold nearby, different kinds of people coming to the temple. There was a 5 storey building nearby. We had gone inside the temple. So many people are conversing on the road, or going somewhere carrying bags. An ambulance passes by; there must be a patient inside. Many helpless people on the road.

Apurbo: A crossing with 4 streets going in 4 directions. All of 24 hours you can hear office goers talking, the sound of bells from the temple, the sound of cars, the smell of fish, vegetables and spices. In front there is the big Kolkata Medical College and Hospital. Big banyan trees lining it. Opposite these is the old Shiv temple. Big buses ply on the road facing it. During childhood, when I used to board a bus with ma and come here, then everytime I could recognize that I had arrived at my neighbourhood on spotting this Shiv temple and Medical college. These identified my locality to me. So this road, the MedicalCollege and the Shiv temple will be memorable to me.

Robi: You can hear the sound of temple bells. The priest is doing the puja while somebody is ringing the bell. Somebody is doing namashkar. The smell of fuchkas, chowmein and maize. Bside the temple there are gold ornament shops, beside that tea stalls, the Medical College Hospital. Many people, buses, cars and trams are moving here. I can see 5 street lamps. Pharmacy, book shores, mutton shops, the smell of rotten fish, rotting vegetables. A mobile recharge and STD booth. When I touch the temple wall, it is cool to the touch. There is a grocery shop and fruit stalls also. A shop selling things hat the gods need in the temple, a stall selling cups-plates and another selling lottery tickets. An office. A dairy shop selling paneer.

Pinky: I can see a sweet shop here. Puja is happening at the mandir. Potatoes, spices etc are sold at the stalls. Where we are walking, the streets are lined by shops selling gold ornaments. I heard many people talking on the streets. The whistle of buses. We are right now standing onand writing this out.

Week 4: The Session

Date: December 17, 2007
Time: 6:00 – 8:00pm
Venue: Bow Bazaar Highschool

Session Four: The Homes of Bow Bazaar

Activity One: Share the Landmark Stories from Previous Session

In a circle, read aloud the stories/articles each journalist wrote for their chosen landmarks. Share and discuss.

Activity Two: Talk about Journalism and Blogging

Pass out newspapers to each journalist and tell them that from now on it’s important for them to read the newspaper to see how journalists are reading and writing about the world. Also, how they too are journalists.

What do journalists publish their work in? Ask the group
What will we publish our work in?

-Shobuj Pata: A community newsletter circulated by Sanlaap

We will write about things, share things, tell stories that will be circulate in public spheres. It is our responsibilities as story tellers and story writers to write responsibly for ourselves and our community.

Activity Three: The Homes of Bow Bazaar

  1. Talk about Homes. Bow Bazaar has many homes. Each community and neighbourhood begins with a home. And each home has a separate story. The stories of each home contribute to the stories of the community, of the neighborhood
  2. Read Sandra Cisneros’ My Home piece
  3. Ask the participants what they feel about this piece. What feelings does the writer evoke in her piece? What do you like about the piece as a reader?
  4. Ask each participant to think about their home. And on a following on a little chit of paper, write: 1) What part of your home to you do you connect with on a personal level? 2) What part of your home would you like to change? (Don’t write your name on the chit of paper and don’t share your content with anybody)
  5. Place the chits in a small bowl. Pass the bowl around and have everyone pick on of the chits and read it aloud. Ask them to guess whose chit they’ve selected.
  6. After they have read and selected the chit – tell them that as journalists – they are now assigned to investigate that person’s home and their feelings around their home.

Home Journalist Assignment: Write about your Peer's Home

As a journalist, go to the house of the person whose chit you selected. Find out more information on their home. (Who lives their, what does it look like, what happens there, what’s interesting about their home?)

As a journalist, Find out more about the information on the chit (what is important to the person and what they would like to change.)

Take photographs and write an article on the person’s home and home life.

Prompts given to Journalists for Home-Writing
Something I like
Things I don’t like about my home
Daily lives of people who live there
Dream picture of “home”
Is this a dream home? Yes, why? No, why not?

Check Out
How was this session like? Good/bad/okay okay?
How do you feel about participating in the coming sessions? 1 word

Meet the Participants, Meet the Neighbourhood Journalists

Introducing  Bow Bazaar Neighbourhood Journalists, a vibrant group of growing teenagers with great spirit and enthusiasm. 

Jotsna Das. Age, 16. Jotsna Studies at School. During her spare time, she enjoys having conversations. One thing that everyone knows about her is that all the teachers and tutors at school adore her. One thing that nobody knows about her, is that she is in love.

Surojit Mitra. Age 16. Surojit is a student at Bow Bazaar Highschool. During his free time he loves to coreograph dances and listen to music. He is known for his laughter and his coreography in Sanlaap programmes. One thing that no one knows about him is that, once he failed an exam.

Pooja Dolui. Age, 13. Pooja is a student. She loves to sleep during her spare time. Everybody knows that Pooja loves to hang out with boys. However, nobody knows that she loves to read about History.

Pinky Lal. Age, 13. She is a Student. Pinky enjoys drawing and helping out her Ma. Everybody knows that she talks a lot. But no one knows that Pinky hopes to work and support underprivliged people when she grows older.

Tapos Das. Age, 13. Tapos is a student. During his free time, he enjoys to read and write. Everybody knows about his love for football and batball. Nobody knows that Tapos is in love with a girl.

Tulu. Age, 15. Tulu is a student. Tulu loves to play cricket from 6am-8am. And he enjoys playing football from 11am to 2pm. Everybody knows that Tulu works with is father. But no one knows that Tulu use to play brilliant football back in his village.

Tanya Mondol. Age, 14. Tanya is a student. She enjoys playing and drawing. During her spare time, Tanya like to study. And everybody knows she loves to study, but no one knows that she also loves to dance.

Robi Mondal. Age, 15. Robi doesn't work, he's a student. Robi loves to play with his brothers and friends, and he helps around the house during his free time. Everybody knows that he loved a girl at the Sanlaap drop-in-center. But no one knows that he has loved a girl (again?).

Supriya Dolui. Age, 12. Supriya is a student. She loves to play and joke around with people. Everybody knows that Supriya is everyone's friend. But no one ones that Supriya has a neighbour whose whose mother is forcing him to drop out of school and work in a chai stall.

Rahul Goswami. Age 19. Rahul studies, works, and learns to play the guitar. During his free time, he enjoys writing poetry and practising his guitar. In the dark, he thinks and worries about his family and his personal future. Rahul is well known for his handwriting and his long hair. Rahul is also known for being a quiet and serious young man. But no one knows that Rahul is afraid of swimming and riding a bicycle. Rahul hopes to be get a degree in Bangla Literature and be a journalist.

Week 3, Part II: Postcards from Bow Bazaar

During Session 3, all participants wrote a vignette on Bow Bazaar through the following activity.

Activity One: Bow Bazaar and Me Vignette
Remind everyone how we left off at writing what our neighbourhood means to us personally. Read the Poddar Nagar poem to remind the participants how we invoke our neighborhood. Now, tell them that they too will invoke their neighborhood through sensorial details.

Have everyone close their eyes and go around the room and think imagine Bow Bazaar from a personal gaze in terms of the Four Senses. Orally go over each sense. Ask each participant to share their Sight, Sound, Smell, Touch of Bow Bazaar. Go around the room with each sense, one at a time. Take time to comment (trim, refine) sensorial description. After each participant has shared their description, have them write their spoken line into their notebook in the form of a poem. On the board write the structure of the poem.

Bow Bazaar Means….
A Sound
A Sight
A Smell
A Touch

Postcards from Bow Bazaar

Bow Bazaar Maane….

Amar baarir boro raastai log-joner katha-bolar shobdo.
Moder gondho,
Bow Bajaar mane shiri-te mod kheye pore-jawar drishho,
Bow Bajaar mane amar baarir chhater pachiler thandar sporsho.

Bow Bazaar Means…

The sound of conversations from the road leading home,
The smell of alcohol,
Bow Bazaar means the sight of a fallen, drunk man on the stairs.
Bow Bazaar means feeling coolness on the rooftop of my home.

By Pooja Dolui, Age 13



Bow Bazaar Mane…

Amar baari-te jal niye jhagra,
Bow Bajaar maane amar baari theke shoja giye, sealdahr maacher ghondo.
Maane, Sealdahr bridge-ey Om Shanti – r poster.
Bow Bajaar maane, amader schooler ghar-gulor khor-khorey deowal.

Bow Bazaar Means…
At home, an argument over water.
Bow Bajaar means the smell of fish from Sealdah.
It means, a poster of Om Shanti on Sealdah bridge.
Bow Bazaar means the rough walls of our classroom.

By Salman, Age 14



Bow Bajaar Mane…

Bipin Behari Ganguly-r street-er bus, taxi-r awaj.
Bow Bajaar maane, hotel-er mangsho aur onno khawar-er gondho.
Bow Bajaar maane, bhor-belar gaache thanda guri.

Bow Bazaar Means…
The sound of bus and taxis on Bipin Behari Ganguly Street.
Bow Bazaar means, the scent of meat curry and other foods from the hotel.
Bow Bazaar means, the cold trunk of a tree at dawn.

By Tapos, Age 13


Bow Bajaar Maane….

Amar baarir neeche mudi-dokaan-e kena-becha.
Toilet-r ghondo. Bow Bajaar maane, mudi-dokaan-e khela hochhe.
Bow Bajaar, chhoto ball-er moto.

Bow Bazaar Means….
Buying and selling at the grocery shop below my home.
The smell of urine.
Bow Bazaar means, games and play at the grocery store.
Bow Bazaar is like a small ball.

By Tulu, Age 15


Bow Bajaar Maane…

Kaki-r ghar-e t.v.-te gaaner awaaj.
Bow Bajaar maane Bipin Behari Ganguly-r statue.
Ar taar pechone hotel-e Mughlai bhaajar gondho.
Bow Bajaar maane bhor-bela bot gaacher thanda ebong mosrinatar sporsho.

Bow Bazaar Means…
The sound of music on T.V. from Kaki's room.
Bow Bazaar means Bipin Behari Ganguly-r statue
And the smell of Mughlai food from the hotel behind.
Bow Bazaar means the cool and smooth touch of a banyan tree at dawn.

By Jotsna, Age 16

Week 3, Part I: The Session

December 10th, 2007

Session 3: Writers as Observers

Human Knot: Form a circle and extend your right hand into the center of the circle and grab a persons hand across from you. Now extend your left hand into the circle and randomly grab another person’s hand. Now the group must form one big (untangled) circle without letting go of any one’s hands.

Pupose: Teambuilding. Working as a Group. Building Accountability. And Trust.

Remind youth to recall their Para Maps. And one’s personal relationship with their para.

Activity One:
Bow Bazaar and Me Vignette (continued from Session 2)

Remind everyone how we left off at writing what our neighbourhood means to us personally. Read the Poddar Nagar poem to remind the participants how we invoke our neighborhood. Now, tell them that they too will invoke their neighborhood through sensorial details.

Have everyone close their eyes and go around the room and think imagine Bow Bazaar from a personal gaze in terms of the Four Senses.
• Sound
• Smell
• Sight
• Touch

Orally go over each sense. Ask each participant to share their Sight, Sound, Smell, Touch of Bow Bazaar. Go around the room with each sense, one at a time. Take time to comment (trim, refine) sensorial description. After each participant has shared their description, have them write their spoken line into their notebook in the form of a poem. On the board write the structure of the poem.

Bow Bazaar Means….
A sound
A Smell
A Sight
A Touch

Activity Two: Neighborhood Outing and Writing.
Now we will go outside as Para Journalists and write about the following:
What do you think is Bow Bazaar’s Landmark?

Keep in mind the Five Senses: Smell, Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste
Also, keep in mind you Gaze – you are Para Residents

Pass out Prompt Sheet:
1) Describe your chosen Landmark (What do you see? What do you smell? What do you hear? What does it feel like?)
2) Why is it Bow Bazaar’s landmark for you?

Take-Home Assignment: Research your chosen landmark and write about its history. Ask friends, families, acquaintances about your chosen place and what they think about it, what they know about it, what personal/significant stories are related to it. Try to uncover any local stories, histories surrounding your chosen place.

Check Out
How was this session like? Good/bad/okay okay?
How do you feel about participating in the coming sessions? 1 word

Glimpse of Bow Bazaar Highschool

All Neighbourhood Diaires sessions are held at Bow Bazaar Highschool every Monday from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. This space is rented out by Sanlaap as an evening community center for youth. Below are photographs from our previous session (Session 2) last Monday, December 3, 2007.


Bow Bazaar Highschool at night on Bipin Behari Ganguly Street.


The entrance of the school.


In a dimly lit room on the third floor, Kalam facilitates its Diaries’ sessions.

Immersed in Writing


Surojit, a perceptive participant, writes with deep concentration.


Supriya and Pinky spend time making their Para (neighbourhood) Map.

Week Two in Bow Bazaar: The Session

December 3rd, 2007

Session Two: Personal Para

Objective: To facilitate young residents to go inside their heart and mind and investigate and express what their neighbourhood means to them personally.

Matching emotions (10 mins)

Pass out pieces of paper or note cards with emotions written on them. Some suggested emotions are: anger, fear, happy, nervous, sad, peace, embarrassed, loved, proud, shocked, hate. Two participants will have the same emotion. Ask each participant to enact the given emotion until the other participants can identify who they share an emotion with. When participant think they have found their partner, they should have a seat together. Continue until all groups are seated.
Finally have each group strike a pose of their emotion for other participant what emotion is being enacted.

Activity: Profile Form (10 mins)
Pass out profile forms in which participants will write a brief bio about themselves. This will be kept for Kalam and Neighbourhood Diaires.

The Bio form
• Name
• My age
• Where I live
• What I do
• What I love doing in my spare time
• Something about me that everyone knows
• Something about me that no one knows of

Activity One: Ground Rules for Workshop Series (20 mins)

We will be working together for 15 weeks, indoors as well as going outside into our para, talking to people, taking interviews, sometimes taking pictures and writing. We will be working as para journalists. Do you think that in order to work and learn together, we need any rules?

• Brainstorm Ground Rules (Do this on a Chart paper). Write out all the ground rules every participant comes up with.

• After all ground rules have been explored, vote on each of them as a group.

• Write all finalized rules on a new piece of Chart paper. Have all participants sign the paper.

Some Ground Rules of neighbourhood diaries should include:

  • Cell Phones Off
  • Don’t laugh at each other’s art, ideas, thoughts, stories, viewpoints etc.
  • Whenever anybody is sharing something, give full attention to him/her.
  • Be open to constructive criticism. Before saying something negative about somebody’s work, say something positive.
  • Maintain confidentiality about any personal stuff that may emerge during the session.
  • Take permission before clicking people’s photos wherever possible.
  • Do not be intrusive while interviewing people. Be sensitive.
  • Laptop and camera are strictly to be used for neighbourhood diaries only and not for personal entertainment.
  • .
    Activity Two: Para Map Making: Personal Map of Bow Bazaar and You

    Each participant will create their personal map of Bow Bazaar and them. This is very different from a regular map with street names, lines, and official landmarks. Rather, this map should represent what Bow Bazaar intimately looks like to the participant. It is a map in which each participant notes, identifies places/spaces/people/animals that carry intimate significance to them personally.

    On an A4 size piece of paper create a personal map of Bow Bazaar — mapping what is important to you. Be creative. Use words, colors, art, images, etc.

    Prompt Questions:

    • When you are feeling sad, where do you go in your neighborhood?
    • Places where you fell in love?
    • Where do you enjoy having an adda?
    • What places do you go to in your para where you feel the need to dress up?
    • Do you have any favorite pets in your para?
    • Who are important people in your para?
    • In crises, who do you go to?
    • Who do you go to for advice?
    • If you need to get things done, who do you go to
    • Who are your enemies?
    • Who are closest to your heart?
    • Who are you afraid of?
    • Somebody you are intrigued by?
    • Places in the para which make you Happy? And Make you Sad?
    • Your favorite tree in the para?
    • Favorite eating place?
    • If you have visitor, what parts of the para do you take them around to?
    • Are there some special games that you play in the para?
    • What are you favorite festivals in your para? Where do they happen?
    • What are your favorite sounds inside the para? Specific sounds at night? Specific sounds during Morning? Or afternoon?
    • One thing in your Para that you want to change? One thing in your para that you don’t want to change?

    Go around the room and share the parts they are comfortable sharing.

    BREAK (Optional)

    Activity Three: Para Vignette: Bow Bazaar Means….
    Write a vignette on what Bow Bazaar means to you personally, using the Five Senses. See below for model. This writing activity will facilitate participants to think about their neighborhood through five senses. The use of fives sense will foster participants to approach neighborhood observation and writing through sensorial consciousness. They can pick images from the Personal Para Map they have just created, and put them into words in detail.

    Bow Bazaar Means….

    A smell
    A sight
    A touch
    A sound

    Sample Poem

    Poddar Nagar Mane…

    Sagor Sweets-er goli diye, baan dike beke jawa.
    Poddar Nagar mane Meroon dorjaa wala ekta bari.
    Dutor shomoy rasta shunshaan.
    Petrol-er gondho niye ekta matador-er chole jaoa.
    Poddar Nagar mane baire railing-e dhulo joma.
    Tube-weller teto jal, time-koler mithey jaler ashshad.
    Poddar Nagar mane ghoomiye pora dusho chollish er line.
    Aashe pashé officejatrir parota alur dom khaoa.
    Poddar Nagar mane Monohara Mashir elo haathkhopa.

    Check Out
    How was this session like? Good/bad/okay okay?
    How do you feel about participating in the coming sessions? 1 word.

    (See our Next Post for Participant Profiles and Photographs as well as discussion and responses from Session 2.)