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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Growing up in Durgapur

What was Durgapur like in the days when I was growing up here?

Much quieter than it is these days, of course, much greener and with much more of wide open spaces which I sorely miss now. Far fewer vehicles on the roads (when my father bought a ‘Jawa’ motorcycle in 1967 hordes of people came over to marvel at it). No mobiles, no TV, no computers and video games; no shopping malls either. Private telephones were a rarity, and they all had four digit numbers (ours was 2788), had to be dialled, and nobody had heard of caller line identification. Today’s children hear about ‘trunk calls’ as though they were fairy tales. Far less dust and grime in the air, too. White skinned foreigners were a much commoner sight, though – we knew too little to distinguish between British and Russians and Germans, of course, but there were certainly no Chinamen around, except for those who made shoes and pulled out teeth in Benachity market. The first high pressure sodium vapour street lamps were put up on Central Avenue in 1977, I think.  High society flaunted huge American Dodges, Plymouths and Studebakers…oh yes, there were quite a few libraries around. The one at Durgapur Club was well-stocked, there was Anurupa Devi Smriti Pathagar for Bengali readers, and even a tiny outlet of the British Council: unthinkable in this age of philistines.

Children live different lives from adults. As Tagore in his childhood, though physically confined by and large to the four walls of the house in Jorasanko yet roamed all over the wide world in his imagination aided by his tutors and books, I grew up seeing very little outside the DSP township until my fourteenth year, so I knew far more of the great world outside than I did of my own town. I remember only occasional trips to the barrage before that, so even going to AVB township on the invitation of a friend was an adventure to remember, and likewise a bus trip through the nascent Bidhan Nagar, where I now live. It was like visiting another country, almost, and what I remember best is making a bicycle trip through the same place soon afterwards, thrilling to the knowledge that the streets I was passing through, bordered by dense jungle on both sides, would be the sole preserve of armed and vicious dacoits after dark (it was almost like that as late as 1990 on the same road which is now a blaze of multicoloured neon lamps and choc-a-bloc with guest houses, restaurants and hotels, humming with merrymaking crowds till late at night – where fireworms glowed and jackals howled even 25 years ago). And the hot and happening, crowded and bustling City Centre area was an open wilderness well into the 1980s. Yet, as I was telling my daughter only the other day, the really strange thing is how little  the town has changed in more than three decades!

My early years in school were spent during the time when the tumultuous Naxalite movement was at its peak, and yet, strange to say, our lives were virtually unaffected; though one morning we gaped over the school perimeter wall at a severed and bloody human head on the road outside (that was 1971), I worry much more about my daughter’s safety on the roads today, thanks to the reckless motorbike-crazy and often drunk kids zooming around, than our parents ever worried about us. I can hardly remember my parents asking where I had been when I came home late, morning or evening, wandering around the township on my bicycle. I travelled far and wide on that bicycle, as far as Panagarh and Ranigunj, even, yet it amazes me that I had never heard of Garh-jungle with the Shyamarupa temple nor about the little village of Kenduli on the Ajoy, famed for the medieval poet Joydev and the annual festival of bauls held in his honour, until I was well into adulthood…

Festivals like Holi and Diwali were observed in a much  more communal spirit, and therefore enjoyed much more, in our day. Kali-pujo was a red-letter day in my calendar, because my normally aloof father got actively involved with me and some of my friends in making fireworks with our own hands: truly a labour of love, if ever there was one (he wasn’t quite as successful in teaching me the art of playing with marbles and of flying kites). And today’s children have no idea of the fun we had organizing picnics (chorui bhaati) all on our own, with no adult help or supervision!

I was very fond of swimming, always, and Durgapur Club had a pool where I luxuriated for hours every day all through the long hot summers (and first discovered the charm of looking at shapely legs! Unlike in these much more 'modern' times, there was no gender segregation in the pools then. Also, I didn't notice so many schoolgoers wearing charmed amulets in my day. So much for progress). Many of my boys and girls might be surprised to know that at least up to the age of twelve, when I went down with a long spell of nagging illness (and turned for solace and comfort almost wholly to books) I was not above playing a lively game of cricket or football, ping pong or badminton, with any friends who were available.

As I have said elsewhere, my mother, her brother, and most of all my grandfather richly filled in much of my time with their friendly companionship and endless storytelling. To them I owe most of my teaching skills, such as they are.

For the rest, it was books, books, books all the time – an endless number of them, in both English and Bangla, on every conceivable subject under the sun.  Books have made me the kind of person I am: no two opinions on that. And some teachers. Most teachers in my life, as in most others’, were brutes or bores, but I think I was lucky to have an unusually large number of teachers who made strong and good impressions on me through my childhood. To them, a silent but deeply respectful bow in passing.

Summers were hotter in those days, I think, and only the very rich had airconditioning at home, so we really knew what blistering afternoons and sweltering nights meant. Winters have definitely grown milder: one no longer has to shiver deliciously under blankets these days until one is warm enough to fall asleep. The rains were wonderful to watch then, and thankfully so they are even today, living as I do amidst a verdurous ambience, and where waterlogging is not a perpetual menace.

Oh, this I forgot to mention: I have lived in 13 (or is it 14?) different places in the same town, including this, hopefully my last, house. That should be odd, I think. My own daughter has lived all of her first 15 years in the same house...

Memories have grown dim, sketchy and jumbled up with the passage of years, so I sense the imminent danger of this becoming a ramble making sense to no one at all. So let me pause and wait for readers to start commenting. It is their remarks that will make me decide whether it would be prudent to continue reminiscing.


Soham Mukhopadhyay said...

Dear Sir,
This was a very nice post to read. I loved it very much. I had heard of old Durgapur from my father too. In his childhood, he used to live in DPL township. It was nice to know what kind of a person you were in your childhood- I always fancied about that. Though I feel sad at the fact that Durgapur has lost many of its greenery. You had told about the Kalipuja day in our class- you used make 'tubri' on your own- bringing the raw materials from as far as Raniganj. And I was really surprised to know that there were many British, Germans and Russians around - so Durgapur must have been a cleaner place then. And it raised my eyebrows to know that you have lived in 14 different places in the same town so far! Speaking truly, I miss the old days, as they were, on hearing about them both from yours and my father's account.

I am really excited about the visit count crossing its 100000 mark.

About the topics I would want to know from you:-
1. About the books which one must read in his life.
2. Places, both in India and abroad, to which one must visit.
3. About the movies which you like the most.
4. What difficulties have you faced in your journey through life- the ups and downs.
5. About various countries, people, cultures.

It would be very nice if you chose to write something about them. My deepest respect and regard for you.

Yours lovingly,
Soham Mukhopadhyay

aranibanerjee said...


The post is warm and fluent. Reading effortlessly and with intoxicated pleasure is what the hall mark of any good writing is. Many things that you mention ring a familiar bell. Even when we grew up there were Russians, Germans and Poles. The Englishmen had all left by the sixties, I suppose. The libraries had fizzled out by the time we grew up. But, my mother was a regular at Anurupa Smriti Pathagar and the one at the A-Zone Community Centre. I have heard a lot about the small British Council library that worked out of the '18 Room Hostel'. Also, the book store that Rajesh and his father ran under a peepal tree. When we were very young, Subodh Library was a big thing. Milani happened later. The roads in the township were a breeze. The tall trees and the quiet stunningly 'phoren'. The 'muri-wallah', the 'mishti-wallah' and so many vendors cried loud on afternoons. We even had a dosa-wallah frequenting our neighborhood.
Then there was Lal Maidan and the back-of-beyonds called Shivaji and Chandidas. Chandidas grew into a shopping hub only in the nineties. Pump-House and Meghamallar were also nineties-phenomenon. These happened as Belgian Jesuits at school were replaced by Malyalis.
Growing up was also so much about tests on Friday: things of the past, now.
There was one dhoti-clad gentleman called Salil-babu who brought books to our house. Through him, I got hold of 'Hindustani Upakatha' by Shanta Devi (now, a collector's item) and my first English book--Treasure Island.
The only thing that survives in Durgapur is the 'shingara' at Subhash Sweets.
Sir, write on, please. It is wonderful sustenance to much-parched souls like mine.

With warm regards,

Harman said...

This was a joy to read. I have so many wonderful memories associated with Bidhan Nagar (the township in front of St. Xavier's).

I grew up with my mom and brother in that town, while my dad was away in the US.

I remember black and white TV's, gathering together at the neighbors house to watch "Buniyaad" and "Chitrahaar" every wednesday night. No 24-7 TV programming at that time! Just Doordarshan.

Definitely remember the Friday exams, the preperation leading up to them, and Friday afternoons post-exam cuddling up to a Tintin, Asterix or Hardy Boys.

I remember sucking on ripe mangoes on those hot sultry summer afternoons, drinking "Glucose -D", hanging wet sheets in front of the fan to get a cool breeze.

It is just as many as the day to day things that I vividly remember as much as the sentinel events like Durga puja, holi, and collecting leaves for "nara-pora."

I also remember being holed up in our apartment in 1984 when Sikhs were being murdered throughout india in retaliation to the assasination of Indira Gandhi. It is not as much of the fear that I remember, but the generosity of our neighbors during those tough times. Thankfully, things never quite got out of hand in Durgapur, like they did in delhi and kanpur etc, with state sponsored progroms in effect to systematically eradicate sikhs.

I enjoyed my time in Durgapur, thanks in no small part to efforts from teachers like Suvro Sir who challenged us to open our minds to possibilities beyond exams and curricula. That is what has made all the difference in my life!

Nishant Kamath said...

Dear Sir,

That was a nice post. I was reminded of some of the things you mentioned. For instance, the road that now goes from Nimoy's shop right till the end used be deserted and quite cool at night. The ABL jungle (the one near our school) if it's called that, hopefully still exists. City Centre used to be way less congested.

I surely didn't know that you had lived at fourteen different places in Durgapur! And a British Council in the city: now that's something I never knew existed. With the better libraries and fewer distractions they had then and the voracious reader you have always been, it's no wonder books became such good companions of yours.

It would be nice to hear of more such reminiscences.


Rajdeep said...

Good to see you plucking out the strands of your memory for us to read. Hope you continue, or rather should I say, hope there are enough comments to make you go on?
Well, I realized I am as old as the sodium vapor street lamps!

I didn't know the British Council ever existed in Durgapur!

I have fond memories of the ESI library (if I remember the name correctly), though it was closed as I was growing up.

I have lived in just 3 houses. When the current one was built, we did not have electricity for a few months. It was the world of leaping shadows in candle or "hurricane" light and of the stars that seemed very bright. And I knew the meaning of total darkness.

The day we got electricity, I broke my head by banging it on the door latch when I rushed around wildly and there was no ice to stop the flow of blood. Someone went to the neighbors (Parameshwaran Sir)to fetch ice leading to my first tuition classes where the first thing I learned was that bicycle is pronounced as "by-sickle" and not "by-sai-cle"!

I too rode a lot on my bicycle though never as far as Panagarh.
I've been to Arrah and other places. I remember a ride back home after school with my classmate on a rainy day with lightening dropping all around. I have always been scared of lightening after that and I still ride a bicycle almost every day.

The old fiat car lay most of the time in the garage and was mostly driven in my imagination.
Occasionally, every few years it was sometimes fixed and we could ride in it. At times it stopped mid-way or the silencer dropped off when trying to cross a bump (speed breaker).

As you said, a lot of young people do not know of trunk calls.

Japanese kids do not know how to use a dial phone when they see one in a museum. They try to push the holes! With touch screen these days, I wonder what children 30 years hence will try to do when they see dial phones or push button ones!

In a talk show on TV one kid was asked, "What does the ugly duckling become when it grows up?" The kid replied, "tsukune" (something like our sheekh kabab.

Well, and much was the same in my childhood too like what you have written.

Debarshi Saha said...

Respected Sir,

Warm regards.Staying for long at some place,and especially at Durgapur-one carries the place around in his heart.We become the place itself-connecting with the town's spirit is thus so effortless for you!Sir,the picture you have painted using words and nostalgic memories is a beautiful ode to your childhood and to Durgapur itself.I enjoyed reading it very much indeed,Sir.My parents moved to this place back in 1986,so we are relatively newbies here!I felt thrilled on reading your account about the Durgapur I have never known-I saw it through your eyes.Thank you so much,Sir.

With best wishes,

sayantika said...

Dear Sir,

Thanks for this post. It paints the picture of a different Durgapur, quaint and quiet. The way you have framed the post, a quiet tone with no hurries, makes it in-sync with the subject. Today, the presence of a good library in Durgapur has become unimaginable, leave alone a British Council outlet! All that we have are grotesque malls. Yet, I hope that Durgapur preserves the little greenery and the beauty of rain that is left. Rains in Kolkata are a nightmare because of waterlogging.
I saw how numerous houses mushroomed in Bidhannagar in the 90s, replacing the forests. Even when I was six or seven, I could hear the cries of jackals in the forests at night from our apartment in Luna Street. I had even spotted one once. So I can imagine how full of forests it must have been in the 70s. The sweltering heat of the summer is still there, but I miss the summer evenings on the terrace where I could look up to the sky full of stars, and my father would show me the Saptarshi or the Great Bear, the Pole Star and other constellations, explaining that the light took years to reach our eyes. Trips to Benachity or even Station Bazaar were very exciting to me, as shopping for clothes and eating out were confined to only twice a year, before the Pujas and before Poila Baisakh. And if it was accompanied by a trip to the barrage or Kumar Mangalam Park, my joy knew no bounds.
There was no telephone in our house till I was eight or nine, and I remember my mother waiting patiently in a neighbour's house for a call from my uncle once in a week. When the phone was finally installed (a six digit number), I was so thrilled that I used to run to receive the calls before anyone else did.
I have never known the joy of 'chorui bhati' unlike my parents, but I cherish the days of celebrating 'jhulan', with two of my friends. And the fact that you have lived in 14 different houses did make me wonder at how much packing and unpacking it had involved.
I am looking forward to more such reminiscing on your blog. And I would also like to read about your opinion on the books which one should read in one's life.

Thanks and with regards,

Ravindra Dastikop said...

Good one Sir

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Thank you, Ravindra, but I must say that was the most laconic comment I ever put up! Can I expect some more people to be a little more articulate, even if it is only to recount their own memories?

Krishanu Sadhu said...

Thanks for such a beautiful post . Any fond recollection about Durgapur is very dear to me , as I have grown up there in the 90's , and I'm quite confident it is the best place where I could have been.

My first home was in the Steel Township , near the Main Hospital . The warm and friendly neighbourhood that we had there is something that I will always carry in my heart . The caring and the sharing ( from books to culinary preparations ) , the feasts during New Year , the Saraswati Puja celebrations , Jhulon , Holi , the flocking to friends house to watch Jungle Book/Duck Tales /PotliBaba together , the winter afternoon cricket matches at the
Main Hospital ground - these are memories which still bring a smile to me . Ours was a modest 2 bedroom DSP
quarters , later on we had another extension room bulit , and it had an aluminium roof . The thrill of falling asleep to the sound of rain hitting the metal was simply fantastic.

One inseparable part of my childhood was the Bengali magazines Anandamela and Suktara. Boy , how eagerly did I await for them . The newspaper kaku was being constantly pestered by me for the next issue . I still have all
those old magazines in our home there.

I also fondly remember the numerous painting and quiz competitions , sporting events etc. Sometimes the clubs organized them , sometimes organizations like Nikhil Bharat Banga Sahityo Sammelan , Children's Academy etc. I used to be so excited about them . I wonder if they are still held now with the same zeal .

After my class 10 , we moved to CMERI colony . It is a quiet place , full of greenery ,and has a nice playground . It has a library , though it isn't stocked well with fiction. I used to visit there regularly to go through the National
Geographic magazines . We had a close-knit community there ; we had our own Durga Puja during which the
grown ups - my father's colleagues would stage a play or two . The annual sports event and the Football
Tournament on Independence day were major attractions . The Rath Yatra Mela at the Rajiv Gandhi Maidan was
quite nearby , and I used to visit it almost regularly . I particularly enjoyed the theatres and palagaans held there .

My likes about Durgapur - well , they're plenty . The open spaces , the wide roads , the tall trees , the parks , playgrounds ... all these seem so charming to me , especially now ,after having having lived in Kolkata , Mumbai and Noida . In all these places those things are a rarity , people are too busy , there's always too much commotion
,and in the din and hustle the finer aspects of good living , community spirit are trampled each day . Durgapur isn't a big city , nevertheless it's a major township of Bengal . It's true some places of Durgapur like City Centre have become noisier , and the mall culture has started to get a grip on the younger people , the town should have better libraries and book stores . But the good ol' city still exudes a charm I have been unable to find elsewhere .
Thats's why whenever I leave Durgapur to return to my workplace , leaving my family behind , I get the feeling of a stone in my heart . They say the farther you go away from some place you love , the more you realize how close it is to you. My heart still belongs there .


Suvro Chatterjee said...

It was most gratifying to see that this post evoked vivid and nostalgic memories in some people. Sayantika, you deserve a special thanks: I hope you understand why. I have decided that I am not going to write a sequel - at least not right away - but I shall most eagerly wait for more reminiscences coming in in the form of comments. This blog, as I have often repeated, is not just about me, but meant to share a lot of things with like-minded people...

Sunup said...


Your post and some other comments, especially Rajdeep's, brings back some old memories! I grew up in Durgapur during the 80s and mid 90s, and left DGP in 1996. The best thing I liked about Durgapur was the empty roads where I could cycle around merrily. My favorite route was HFC colony >> Philips Carbon Black township junction >> follow the road parallel to the GT road to City Center >> turn right and cut across to reach the junction after Carmel School (I guess it's called B1 more or something like that) >> back to my HFC township near Arrah more. The route and scenery is still avid in my memory. After leaving DGP in '96, I visited her last in 2002. A lot had changed by then. The relatively empty stretch from Pump House junction to my Xavier's was then filled up with apartments, villas, guest houses, and even an Engineering college. I HAVE to visit DGP sometime in the near future. I am sure that I wouldn't be able to recognize a lot many sectors of the city. My old township (HFC), I heard, is in shambles now. Hope they do something about it real soon.

Regarding libraries -- my father used to take me to the ESI library, located somewhere near St. Michael's School, before it closed down. Our township too had a small library for its residents, and I was a regular there too. I was a member of your library too, and I remember visiting your house some N number of times. My neighbor and senior at school was the one who introduced me to your library. By the way, the Subodh and Milan libraries that Arani mentions, aren't/weren't they just book shops? If my memory serves me right, they weren't lending libraries. Not very sure though, or maybe there indeed were lending libraries with similar names.


JD said...

I have learnt that Durgapur has developed much, with many malls, multi-plexes & so many avenues of entertainment, which we couldn't even imagine till 2002 (It has been 10 long years since I left my hometown, though I visit often).
I have learnt that young crowds are having a great time; the cosmopolitan environment has set in, number of schools & colleges have increased. It’s become a hub for medical facilities, education, shopping!

Though, the Durgapur I knew was a little different.
The rustic charm, the smoke filled chimney of the so many industries, the atmosphere so typical of an industrial town, the greenery as you move through the Grand Trunk Road or by train, but most of all, the people - busy with their own lives yet finding time for neighbours and locality.

I miss that Durgapur.Now that I have moved away from Durgapur, I miss it. I miss the people who are still there.

In a way, I also feel saddened that today’s generation will never see the charm of a town, which was unhurried, had solid foundations of various industries, and boasted of an education culture which was constituted by the best convent schools, amongst which, one was St. Xavier’s. My alma matter.

It was a privilege to be at Durgapur and though I have had to move away, I feel proud to have resided there. The experiences that I’ve had in Durgapur during my upbringing has helped me to foster my character… it has helped me to gain a perspective of life.

Durgapur's wide open roads, tree cover, the scorching sun of summer & dewy mornings of winter has left an everlasting impression on me.

I thank my very own Durgapur. Without it life would never have been the same.

I know, with time we will have more development, more facilities, more gloss & attraction for people… but for me, with or without those, Durgapur will always remain my same sweet “HOME”!

Joydeep Mukherjee
2002 Batch

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I don't know about 'development', Joydeep. Pollution levels are frightening, roads are just as bad as ever, road accident deaths are soaring, land prices have shot through the roof, the handful of new hospitals have already acquired a reputation for cut-throat practices, the less said about the rash of new colleges the better (telling point: no good student stays back for higher studies); it is an open secret that the so-called good schools are pale shadows of their former selves, there is not one decent public library around, leave alone theatres, museums and art galleries, crime is sharply on the rise, there is a looming water crisis, not one single major high-tech industry has come up in the last 30 years... I think the only people who can call this 'development' cannot see beyond high-rise buildings, motorbikes, liquor outlets and shopping malls. Also, in 60 years this town has not produced a single person who has achieved things of national importance in any walk of life: art, sports, writing, science, business or politics. That a lot of people are opting to come and settle here says much less about how 'developed' Durgapur is than how much worse still the adjoining towns and villages are! I don't find that cause for celebration.

Subhronath Mukherjee said...

Hi Suvroda,

Reading through your post made me really feel a lot more homesick. I love the fact and consider myself lucky to be in Durgapur right from my birth. So many memories(mostly good) brings back smile on my face.
Thank you so much for helping me feel so nostalgic. You have a wonderful life ahead!

Subhronath Mukherjee
'98 batch SXS

Abhishek Das said...

Dear Sir,
After spending 7 years in Durgapur, my parents shifted to Bishnupur after the HFC closed down in 2003. Since then I have not been to Durgapur (except once), but I do get some updates from my friends. They shower heaps of praise on how this city has transformed post 2000, articulating the role played by the glittering malls and housing complexes springing up at the heart of the city.
I have also heard that land prices have shot up manifold in the past few years and owning a plot in Durgapur has almost become like a dream come true for middle class families. This is almost unprecedented news for me, for in my time Durgapur, HFC township to be precise, was a vast tract of greenery, dotted with sparse quarters and huge playing grounds. My relatives in Kolkata paid occasional visits and I remember how terribly bored and restless they felt after spending a day or two away from their crowded city Kolkata.
I loved the serene environment of Durgapur, the lush greenery especially after the first few showers of the monsoon; I vividly remember the fun collecting mangoes after the ‘Kalbaisakhi thunderstorms’, exhilarating cycle trips to the nearby unknown villages, cricket matches in the sweltering afternoon heat....I don’t know what Durgapur has become lately, but it would be a frightening prospect to see Durgapur transform into another Kolkata.
With warm regards,
Abhishek Das

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Thanks for mentioning the kaalbaishakhi (nor'wester) storms, Abhishek; they have been an enduring love of mine, too. Only last week we had a terrific one, with lots of thunder and hailstones...

And I too would hate to hang on in Durgapur when it has become indistinguishable from any other featureless, dirty, noisy, over-congested small town. Let us pray that that day is still in the fairly distant future!

Percipient Shameek .... said...

Dear Sir ,

This was again a beautiful post..!! Thank you for sharing....!! Please do continue reminiscing.

Regards ,
Shameek .

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Funny that this post should have made it to the list of 'most-read'! Why, I wonder?

Shilpi said...

I think it's because all the people who've grown up in Durgapur, and are living in different places, are most likely reading this post and re-visiting it, and sighing. There's something different about this post of yours, and I think I finally know what it is that was puzzling me.

There's something very different about this post and the one you wrote last year about 'kids at a loose end', although in part one would say that that too was about the town, at least in part. This one is from a distance, and as you are…, and you're looking back and at some of the memories you have.

The one that tickles me is what you say about the Garh-jungle and the Shyamarupa temple and the little village of Kenduli on the Ajoy river. It almost sounds to me that you'd like to tell your teenage self that he should go and visit, 'what on earth are you doing? Go there. You'll like it.' Actually this it makes one wonder about possible conversations...the stuff for stories, I think.

The other memories that you narrate are also terribly vivid - like sharp snapshots seen and remembered. I don't know what to say about seeing a human head on the other side of the school wall, and when you were 7 years old?! Well maybe that explains a little bit. Suddenly reminds me of one remembered bit from the book, Anil's ghost.

Your bits about the festivals, of swimming, of traveling outside the town, the bits about cycling and the organizing of chorui bhaati make one sort of smile in different ways, and the bit about your illness when 12 makes one want to ask questions. But I didn't quite get why your 'boys and girls' would be surprised to know that you weren't above a game of badminton or anything else for that matter.

Were the summers really hotter in those days? I somehow think that summers there have gotten much hotter from what I remember. I remember winters were colder. Although only inside the house. While cycling to school it felt cool to speed in through the school gates and join assembly without wearing the red cardigan. I do remember bundling myself up in layers while inside my room...and still shivering and then sleeping like a little (or big?) Egyptian mummy, and feeling fairly snug.

This post doesn't sound like a ramble. Memories might and sometimes do become jumbled though...that much I think happens as people grow older but I still hope you continue with this post at some other time...the next part might even sound different because you remember different things….I counted. I think I’ve lived in about 14 different rooms/houses across all my life, so far.

Anamika Bose/Deoghar said...

while searching for one of my friend from Durgapur, i suddenly came across your blog. I enjoyed reading every bit of it.
I grew up in Durgapur and stayed there till my 12th.
As i girl, what i feel, my life was not as adventurous as the most of you. It was restricted from my Home at Bidhannagar to my school. I recollect some of the moments of ultimate joys when as kids we used to go to Ram mandir to have "Phuchkaas" and 10 paise lozenzes. i used to get a rupee from my mom and was happy to think that wiwth this money, i will be able to purchase 5 lozenzes and 50 grams of peanuts.
As a kid and later on also during my student life, i used to visit the ESII library and got the opportunity to read planty of english fictions, mystery novels and Bangla books. I gained most of my insights of life though reading novels. Now i realize, novels are the best for understanding human nature.
and yes..last but not the least...i recall the dancing lessons that i used to take. dancing was the passion of my mother...which never came to me naturally as singing did. Dancing, expressing through your face was really very tough as my family never supported that children must express their thoughts. Singing also needs expression but in a different way.
Durgapur means everything to me. whenever i visit Durgapur, i feel so much familiar to my surrounding as a baby feels in the womb of the mother.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Thank you for that very nice comment, Anamika. It warms my heart to be able to draw complete strangers close by writing on this blog. In Tagore's words, dur ke korile nikot bondhu, por ke korile bhai... I hope to see more comments from you on some of my other posts from time to time. Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,
This post has been delightfully very special to me. I don’t know why but maybe it revolves around my city and you.

I have stayed in Durgapur for the last eighteen years of my life and I still do. Its surprising to know that you have lived in 14 places in the same city. I haven’t been that lucky and have stayed in just two places in Steel Township.

The earliest memories of mine are the days in my locality where I had spent a lovely childhood with my brother. With para cricket and various other games I used to play with my brother and other kids, those kindergarten days remain one of the most treasured days till date. It’s sad to find out that many children and teenagers now are too busy to be playing in the evenings these days.

We have never been a member of the Durgapur Club and so I missed both the library and the swimming pool. It’s surprising to know that there had been a British Council here!
I remember one day in class, you were calling out our names. Only a handful of them were new to you, rather uncommon to you, when I suddenly asked, “Sir,apni Anurupa naam ta aage kokhono shunechen ba kauke ei naam e poriyechen?”
Your eyes lit up, “Arreh… Anurupa naam ta amar khub priyo…we go back a long way, Anurupa Devi Smriti Pathagar-er naam shunechis toh nischoy?” I shook my head.
”Check it out, your dad will surely know. Ask him. Kintu Anurupa naam e kauke porai ni. Tui e prothom!”
I don’t know why this little conversation is still fresh in my mind.

Almost everyone before me who had posted their comments had mentioned the changes in Durgapur. The ones which haven’t been mentioned is the current SEPCO Township and Bengal Ambuja which were covered with dense forests even some years back.

This post had been special to me because you shared a little about your childhood. I have always been fascinated by Suvro Sir, one of the names I have been hearing from my elders and I don’t even remember since when… perhaps as far as I can recall. And so, to know about you, how you were as a child, the city in your eyes is indeed very warm and heart touching!

Thank you Sir.


Rajdeep said...



- Materialism in a time of high tariff barriers
Mukul Kesavan

You have most probably read this article in your newspaper.
Anyway, just sending the link just in case you haven't.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I wish the comments had not stopped flowing. More readers should join in, if only to reminisce about nice things they miss now they are away, and more importantly, to talk about the kind of changes they would like to see. I for one would love to see more greenery around me, cleaner air, more orderly traffic on the roads, better hospitals, a few libraries... and I rue the fact that so far as higher education and jobs are concerned, things are just as bad as they were in the 1980s. So all our bright children go away once they step out of high school, as my own daughter will have to, just three years from now.

Chandrajit Rudra said...

I never knew Durgapur from the 70s but had heard bits of stories from my father.

It was wonderful reading though all this, but even today Durgapur is a much better place than all the cities around. Probably, its die to the low population that it has.

I was born in 1988 and even when I roam around the streets of Durgapur, I find a few places that have changed. Well, change is the constant but somewhere within I would never wish my hometown to flow with the change. Let, it remain the same.