Some months ago a Blog was posted on Haal Khata – a festival related to the Bengali New Year celebrated in Kolkata. How the event was celebrated decades ago, by the various shop-keepers of our locality, was the theme of the article.How about having a re-look about those shops, and the shop-keepers after so many years !
First, a visit to the Robin Babu’s shop, which was the only tailoring shop in our locality. The shop is still there, managed by Robin Babu’s youngest son Sentu. He still rolls on a
feet-pedal led old sewing machine, inherited from his father. But his wife is also using the same space for selling biscuits, potato chips and a varied lot of munches. In fact the tailoring work of his husband is over-shadowed, or rather over-powered with large number of snackies packets ! In any case, there is no customer for Sentu who visit his tailoring units for stitching new clothes ….. he does only sundry repair and mending work on used shirts and trousers ! But this couple, with their twin business, are economically successful and this diversification paid off.
Next visit was Dhiren Babu’s shop, which was a grocery shop. His son Bablu runs the shop now. It is no more a grocery shop. Bablu is engaged in an entirely different business –
Optical Shop, meaning selling sun-glasses, power glasses and even contact lenses ! There are four visiting eye-doctors attending his shop in the evenings ! His shop has a new facades. His is a roaring business. He could recongnise me as his child-hood friend and readily posed for a photograph.
Finally, a visit to Pal Brothers’ grocery shop. The shop still exists. Same old doors and facades never changed. The present owner, the youngest son of one of the old ‘pal brothers’ is more interested in sports…. he is an accredited Cricket Umpire in Kolkata stadium and is more excited to discuss about Shourabh Ganguli than keeping track of profitability of his grocery shop. But he is convinced that his is a traditional trade, and, that he would continue to run this old shop. In any case, he is making just enough money to make a comfortable living, for him and his family.
I was very happy to see that all these prodigies of yesteryear’s businessmen are doing well. Perhaps their sincere Halkhata puja of the olden days is paying them the dividends.