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.