Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Poila Boishakh 1416

Bengali year 1416, April 15, 2009 AD, was welcomed with music and dance, drama and recitals at the Netaji Subhash Indoor Stadium, here in Kolkata. Presented as “Joy Hok. Joy Hok, Nobo Noboarunodoy” – the entry fee was a mere Rs 20.

The evening began at 6 pm and ended past midnight. Featuring well known poets and musicians, vocalists and dramatists, it ended with “Mumbai’s Abhijit” singing in Bangla. My favourites – Joy Goswami and Protul Mukhopadhay were there too.

I was there late but left a little before Abhijit came on stage. The reason being, I have seen Abhijit too many times in Mumbai and in fact, he and his band rang in the 2000 millennium year for our Agency in Mumbai’s Royal Palms Hotel at Goregaon. A big incident had marked that night.

We had two shows going side by side. One at the Royal Palms which I and my team were managing and one at Fantasy Land which was being managed by another team.

It so happened, the organizers at Royal Palms started late and no sooner had the drinks been laid out, they were also over. The cover charges at that time were Rs 2000 per head and you can imagine the place was full. The open air music and dance which we as Event Managers were doing, featured Abhijit and his team. Needless, to say, Abhijit too was late and we hoped that the drinks would keep the crowd entertained. Alas!

The boisterous crowd yelled for more wine, while we kept them entertained with fillers till Abhijit arrived. As soon as Abhijit arrived, he bolted out two of the most popular numbers. The crowd forgot their grievance and rolled! All except one! A drunken Sardarji, desperate to win a backless beauty’s attention, jumped on stage and began to hurl abuses at the Royal Palm’s Management. It was a screaming match out there, there on, as we hid Abhijit back stage and pushed the now crowded with the aam junta on stage, back to where they belonged. It was at least 20 minutes of struggle before Abhijit could reappear and belt out more of his songs.

We had worked with two to three hours sleep for over 72 hours and the last straw really was managing the Event up to 3 am the night/early morning of 1st January, 2000. The last of the drunken, drooling, smooching, hugging couple left at nearly 4 am. I asked the car which was to drop me at the Office for a night crash on the Office bunk, to drop me home instead as I longed to hit my own bed and die out to the world for at least the whole of 1st and 2nd January, 2000.

It was not to be. As we were waiting at the level crossing for a train to pass, I decided to get off the car and cross the lines and get into an auto on the other side and ride home without delay. Just as I crossed the lines, I misjudged a hole dug in the ground and trying to step over it, fell and hurt my forehead badly. Blood oozed out like a rivulet down my face and the waiting rickshaw sped me to the nearest Nursing Home. I had several stitches on my forehead and my sleep escaped for again two more days!

Thus, this time, I hastened to flee the Abhijit masala music!

But, alas! This time too, when I arrived at 1 am, I found that I was locked out! Thus, had to break open the door to get into my Shobho Navabarsha home! Bizarre! But this time, I blame it additionally on the presence of a well known politician there!

I wish all my readers Shobho Navabarsha – 1416 Bengali New Year!

Ami Bangla
Ami Bangla Gai
Bangla amar jeebonanaonda
Bangla amar moun

- Protul Bandhopadhay

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Kolkata College Street and elsewhere (Photo Blog)

......inside the Tram

College Street Coffee House

On Sunday 12 April, 2009, the famous College Street Coffee House opened after being closed for six months for renovations.

Albert Hall – which is the other name for the College Street Coffee House – was set up by the Coffee Board in the early 1930s, but had decided to close it in 1958 and retrench staff. It created such a furore that the then CM of Bengal – Dr Bidhan Roy stepped in and the Albert Hall workers, under his guidance formed a cooperative and started to manage the College Street Coffee House themselves.

This year the Coffee House, the intellectual hub and adda of anyone worth his intellectual salt, in Kolkata celebrates its Golden Jublee.

There is a brand new look and the old dirty walls have been washed and cleaned and have been given a lively-yellow. There are frescos and terra-cotta tiles on the walls and arty lampshades and in spite of the new look, the old has still been maintained.

Poets, writers, economists, CMs and all are regulars here.

And now, having visited this post – so are you, dear Readers!

NB: Landmark just ahead of Coffee House