April 12, 2010

The Dada in Every Bengali

Before you worry, this post is not about Ganguly, neither is it about the “dadas” of Mumbai. This is about the dada who resides in the heart of every Bengali.

Dada is a nice person. He typically works in one of the offices around Esplanade. But before that there are important things he must attend to. In the morning, he goes to Manicktala market to buy the fish and on his way back he discusses the preparations for the upcoming Durga Puja, whatever time of the year it might be with the youth of the locality, who have just got admission to Presidency. He is back home by 7 and after a nice bath he walks out of his house to take stock of what’s happening in his ‘para’ (locality). Everyone knows him and likes him because if there is ever an issue, you just need to call Dada. He is apolitical, yet both Reds and Greens speak highly of Dada as he can get the locals to organize a cultural program in less than a week.

Dada lives mostly in North Calcutta, yet unsullied by the South and still having his childhood dreams of socialism intact. He shudders about leaving Calcutta and is often upset by all his younger cousins taking up jobs in Bangalore.

Dada today is sad. His ‘para’ is now a conglomeration of housing societies. The houses have all but vanished. As North Calcutta slowly undergoes its inevitable change, Dada is also fading out. Today’s younger kids still go to Presidency but would rather be seen with their bikes in the narrow bylanes of North Calcutta. Dada is no longer respected by them. They think he is an old good for nothing buffoon.

The other day I was in Calcutta for a few hours and post the Consumer Visits, as I was going around the Hatibagan Market, I noticed a crazy traffic congestion. A car was stuck in one of those narrow bylanes of Hatibagan. Dada was no longer there to help. The kids had parked their bikes on both sides of the road and given their attitude and behaviour few dared to speak to them.

The driver was an old man, looking helpless, there were a couple of kids in the backseat, desperate to reach home, tired after a long day at school.

I am not used to seeing apathy in Calcutta. I tightened my bag around my shoulders, went ahead and started pushing the bikes out of the way. No one seemed to be bothered much. Suddenly, the owners of these bikes appeared from nowhere and demanded an explanation why their bikes were being removed. It did feel a little scary.

But suddenly, Dada arrived. Not one, or two but a whole lot of them. Suddenly Dada remembered that years ago, he dictated the decorum in his para, not some hooligans. The bikers removed the bikes, the kids went home and I went on my way chuckling.

Dada still lives, maybe not for very long but then who knows.


Gaurav Jain said...

kya baat hai...... sach bata chajje se kitni ladkiyaan dekh rahi thi ;P

Meow said...

WONDERFUL.... patriotism :P

Chattz said...

Awesome !
it just brought back those wonderful memories.. The Shyambazar-Hatibagan market, Paanch maatha more...
Exceptionally well put.

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@ GJ- Don't say anything against North Calcutta Verandhas :)

@ Meow - Patriotism or sentimentalism

@ Rohan - :) Thanks