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Look forward in wonder
- Twin flyovers, the tallest towers, bollywood beauties and so much more...

The year of the cricket World Cup in South Africa, the year of the sheep in China, the year of Jupiter’s seventh aspect which, say the stars, augurs well for the country…. Closer home, it’s all happening in Calcutta this year.

For shoppers, there’s no better way to start the year than with a big bag at Shoppers’ Stop. The garments and lifestyle giant will drop anchor by February, at Forum, on Elgin Road. Spread across 60,000 sq ft, Shoppers’ Stop will also bring to town the books-and-music chain Crossword.

When you’re about to drop, just stroll into the 125-seater restaurant to be opened by Anjan ‘Mainland China’ Chatterjee by March. Originally billed to be an all-Bengali fare, the menu will now have “original recipes researched from all over the country”. With roti and kapda in place — we’re talking basics here — the makaan that will make a mark will follow by mid-2003. Hiland Park, off the Bypass and opposite Peerless Hospital, will house the tallest towers in town.

Size does matter this year, with the mammoth ‘restobiz’ Sonar Bangla, opposite Science City, unveiling seven restaurants, three residential blocks, a chip-and-putt golfing green, a jogging track… If putting on those running shoes is what gets you going, lace up for The Calcutta Marathon this March. Winding through 42 km of the city and showcasing it as a happening heritage hub, this will find professional runners sweating it out with the glitterati.

If sporting spirit and camaraderie will rule at the Calcutta marathon, cut-throat competition W(i)LL ride the air waves once Reliance hits town, and BSNL, Hutch and Airtel scramble for cellular share. Still on the cell, A.R. Rahman will not remain the sole preserve of Airtel subscribers as the tune titan calls all Calcuttans to the Salt Lake stadium on February 1. The Unity Of Light Concert, touted as his “first concert in India”, will kick off a high-profile world tour for the Vande Mataram man.

From Rahman to Ray. Having rocked to Rang de, talented Tabu will rattle off Jibanananda in chaste Bangla this April, in Goutam Ghose’s Abar Aranye, the sequel to Aranyer Din Ratri, which also brings back old-timers Soumitra Chatterjee, Subhendu Chatterjee, Samit Bhanja and Sharmila Tagore.

From Ray to Rabindranath. If one Bollywood beauty warms up the summer of ’03, bank on queen bee Aishwarya Rai to make this a Puja to remember as Binodini, in Rituparno Ghosh’s Chokher Bali.

If Ash is for your eyes only, so is the Rotary Narayana Sankara Nethralaya. The super-speciality eye-care centre, conceptualised by eye surgeon S.S. Badrinath and cardiac surgeon Devi Shetty, will open its Salt Lake doors in February.

And making all this hopping-around-town happier will be two flyovers. Promising to set the city centre free from traffic snarls on I-Day will be the 2.2-km high road from Race Course to Park Circus, followed by the 800-metre Park Street flyover.

Here’s to a swifter, smoother, smarter Calcutta 2003.

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