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Ansari recalls ‘nice’ city

Calcutta, Aug. 10: Moments after his victory in the Vice-President poll, Mohammed Hamid Ansari’s mind had gone back decades in the past — to an old, three-storey building in a city with a heart.

“I had a great time during my stay in Calcutta. People are very nice there,” the United Progressive Alliance-Left nominee told The Telegraph over the phone this evening.

“I stayed at Suhrawardy Avenue in Park Circus. I still remember those days,” the former diplomat added.

Apart from one family in the building, P-6 Suhrawardy Avenue (near Lady Brabourne College), and its old darwan, hardly anyone remembered that Ansari once lived with his parents there.

“I had heard about Ansari’s family from my father-in-law. They were very close,” S. Siddiqui, who lives on the building’s second floor, said.

Watchman Mohammed Younus, 75, who has been working in the building for 60 years, said: “I remember that an Ansari family lived here for quite some time. Ansari babu was very sincere and good in his studies. His parents were very good and hard-working.”

Ansari’s memories were more vivid. “I knew the Siddiqui family and they were very close to us. It’s really good they have still remembered me,” he said.

Ansari studied at St Xavier’s College for two years, doing his FA — the then equivalent of higher secondary — after finishing his school education in Shimla. He then moved to Aligarh Muslim University.

“Ansari’s family is from Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh. His parents migrated to Calcutta. It’s a matter of pride for us… he lived in my constituency, too,” said CPM MP Mohammed Salim.

St Xavier’s alumni celebrated at the college. “It’s a great moment for us. We will soon invite him. His election will inspire the students, too,” said Imran Zaki Siddiqui, honorary general secretary of the college’s Calcutta Alumni Association.

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