Friday, 3 July 2009

2, Moore Avenue

It was a lovely Bungalow; nay a kothi.

The creaking gate made of ornate wrought iron engravings held together by wood was imposing. The hinges sighed reluctantly as I pushed it open and walked in. The gravel crunched under my feet and as I looked around , I could only see a jungle of weeds and non-descript trees greeting me. 

I walked further in and the gravel path took a sharp left turn and I looked at what was a momento from a hundred years back -A kothi stood out blocking my path. The entire building had elements of English Architecture married into the what looked like  Western Indian frills. The dirty looking exterior had vines and roots coming out of the walls but could not hide the alabaster marble it was made of. A few steps further down and I had reached the broken door to the building. I moved in.

A wide semi-circular verandah, fringed by dirty marble staircases which led to the upper floor, lay in front. The verandah opened upon a hall which had lovely inlay work on the walls and broken glass strewn on the floor. I took the stairs and reached another balcony at the first floor level. There were four rooms opening out from this balcony on one side and the other side looked down on the open space below.

The atmosphere was pregnant with history.

There was a half broken chair on  the verandah and I sat down on it for a moment. As I looked out , I could make out the old tennis court now covered by unkempt grass and weed, the abandoned pond on the left alongwith its semi broken ghat, the collection of shrubs at the right corner --wild and abandoned-- looking eerily like a Rose Garden and some magnificent Mango trees lined up by the pond.

I drifted into the thoughts of a possible golden past of the building when this house was possibly the pride of the owner. Then there were the days of Burra khana, nautch parties, horsedriven carriages , barbeque by the side of the pond, strolls by the Rose Garden, badminton by long gowned and gloved ladies and fun & foxtrot under arguably the biggest chandeliers of South Kolkata- or Calcutta, as I should correctly say.

My reverie was broken by the people who had taken me there for my opinion about the market feasibility of an apartment block in that plot of land.

Today , instead of the famous Kothi of Mr. Moore of Moore Avenue , South Calcutta, stands a new apartment block which, for the want of a better word , is ugly and sans character.

Sorry Mr. Moore.

Even my romantically coloured biased report did not help to protect your lovely historical Kothi and Calcutta lost a little more of its graceful history.


Sucharita Sarkar said...

Lovely but saddening post. The way the multistoreys are winning the battle against tradition and heritage, the day will soon come when all cities will look distressingly alike, a maze of matchboxes piled atop each other.

Oreen said...

we are not proud of our heritage buildings, while in Europe you can see centuries old buildings preserved like new even today. that gives a city its character, not the nouveau riche malls that have sprung up like mushrooms.

the teeming millions crowding only a few cities, what else can we expect? why don't we build some twin cities for a few millions to move to?

beautiful post

JD said...

very sad!! it's disheartening to see all the history go into drains, and all of it in the name of urban development!!

Aren't we in a way responsible for throwing away our heritage??

Pradip Biswas said...

If you come to Sodepur area and walk to ganges you may see a lot of old bunglows. One day I sat near the ganges and an old lady came to me asking some money to buy rice. I said I shall get you rice but I shall carry it to your house. Relutantly the lady agreed. I stooped near a shop and bought akilo of rice and potato. She led me to a old broken big palatial building. Pointing to the name plate on marble she said " That was my father, my sons deserted me. So I stay here. Thank you for your rice i may continue for some days. In my next visit i found a big signboard. Soome promoter is building a complex there. The watch man told the lady died and his sons sold it to builder.

maitreyi de sarkar said...

Description was simply wonderful.Truely we are loosing our past and our colonial heritage.