In those days our para (locality) was well-known for the existence of a Building ! If we had to buy a fancy thing or two, our only option was to go to Gariahat market.
I was barely in nursery then and walking back all the way home, about a mile away then, was indeed impossible. So, we used to search for a hand-pulled rickshaw and my parents would call out loudly “ hey.. will you take us to ‘katla-pamaar’ ” ! Now this so called ‘katla pamaar’ was actually a land-mark building, having a beautiful gothic
structure in our locality. Built around World War I, for all I knew, name of the company was ‘Cutler & Palmers’. Like the English conveniently converted Mukhopadhyays to Mukerjis, we Bengalis in turn re-christened ‘Cutler & Palmers’ to ‘katla pamaar’ to suit our tongue !
At some point of history Shaw Wallace took over and rented the larger portion to other firms. In my school days it was ‘Stan-Vac’ – an oil exploring company which held it’s city office here. The local sahabs working there used to often play some kind of strange game at the adjacent play ground to the building. A player would hit a white ball with a round shaped- bat and run to cover all four sides of the ground. That was our first encounter with base ball! We, the local urchins – 4 of us, used to sit at the fence and get amused at this strange game.
A few years later the Stanvacs disappeared – perhaps tired of digging! Then there was the advent of heydays for us. The new tenant of Shaw Wallace was now JWT – J Walter Thompson. This was an Advertising Firm. Now something interesting started happening in our hitherto bored lives! We used to climb up to the road side windows and watch various artists paint colourful paintings in large sized papers. For the first time we got to see poster-colour bottles, and wonder if we can lay our hands on some of them. There was one Ronen Ayan Dutta, a very soft spoken, nice man whom we watched painting without feeling disturbed about these peeping toms! One fine day he handed over to us a few empty bottles of poster colours. We ran to our homes with joy and started trying our hands on painting. We found out that by adding a few drops of water, we could still paint a few pictures. The cotton stolen from pillows, wrapped tightly around broom stick pieces, made good crude brushes for us. Our patient watchful eyes helped us to learn how not to rub brush with paint. We were amazed to notice how Ronen Babu would make feather touch with the brush on the paper and with only very little paint he would paint. Each time a paint was used he used to patiently wash the brush. (Much later, while at college, I came to know that Dutta was a great painter of our country. So, in a way I can proudly vouch that I learned painting from a very famous artist …. The only trouble is that he never knew about it !!)
With changing times things changed. Advertising became a less artistically creative venture . When my children grew up the era of market-study oriented advertising campaign has already set in. Hence IMRB occupied a portion of the building.
Creativity being replaced by practical nuances of life, our childhood was lost or perhaps entrapped within the walls of the old building. As our children grew up, all they saw were well dressed officials and staff driving in or driving out. There was no scope or reason for peeping inside !
But this was not all. Catering to the growing demands of a globalised nation our land-mark building soon had to make way for a sky-scraper that is eighteen floors high.
And just with the greed of keeping my childhood entrapped forever – on the first day of the breaking spree of the building, this old man rushed with an old mobile-camera to capture the last moments of ‘katla pamaar’ – our very own fantasyland……