Friday, March 27, 2009
the 'new market'
not very uncommon in kolkata.suddenly you find lot of smoke bellowing out in the landscape.you hear the sound of fire engines rushing to the spot and coming to a screeching halt.to put down a fire caused by some careless and irresponsible individual or greedy shopkeepers who do not follow basic safety precautions.the new market fire,the burra bazar fire,the haldiram fire(s) and yet another new market fire.the list goes on.
on wednesday 25th afternoon,i had landed in kolkata and drove down to my office at shakespeare sarani.a couple of hours later,i learnt that there was a fire in the new market.luckily it was put off before much damage could have been caused.the new market in its old avatar was badly gutted in december 1985,111 years after its beginning.the new market in its new avatar maintains the old british charm. the indian contribution to this classic marketplace is the country's first automated underground parking bay, inaugurated in april 2007.
the prize preserve of calcutta's british citizens and a contemporary of mumbai's crawford market,it was inaugurated on 1st january 1874 and named after sir stuart hogg who was the then calcutta corporation chairman.fondly referred to by the locals as 'hogg sahaber bajjar"(the market of hogg saheb),the architecture of the market done in gothic style is impressive.
as a youngster who grew up in kolkata,i have fond memories of this market which i used to visit so often with my mother.also pre divali it was a must to buy all the new clothing for the entire household. though a strict vegetarian,i remember having bought in the early hours of the morning fresh chingdi maach(favourite prawns for bengalis) for my bong boss at bangalore when i was working there some twenty five years ago.i carried it all the way to mumbai,kept it ovenight in my neighbour's fridge and carried it next morning to bangalore.to what extent do some of us go to please our bosses! he is no more but i am sure he appreciated the effort.so much so that he invited us to a party very soon thereafter and unknowingly i enjoyed the maacher jhal!
the underground car park which is 30 feet below the ground level is supposed to be an engineering marvel.it has a shopping mall at minus one level and a gantry system car parking at minus two level.the project engineers claim that it takes only 90 seconds to recover your car.my driver is not too enthused though.he claims it is a bit of a mess out there.to put my doubts to rest,i must try it out and convince myself whether the claims are true or not.