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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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CIMA Gallary

Lost Calcutta in an art shop

Calcutta in the glory days of the Empire comes alive in a beautiful series of coloured prints available at Legacy: The Art Treasures that opened at Orbit Enclave at 12/3A Hungerford Street last Wednesday.

With Aakriti Art gallery in an adjacent room, this new shop is a collector’s delight as it stocks not only old prints but other collectibles such as old photographs and photographic albums and antique books besides the usual gimcrack like marble and alabaster statues and Sèvres porcelain vases and elegant tables as well. Besides diamond and gem stone-studded jewellery in antique styles there are watches as well.

The collection of old prints is truly remarkable as in these one can see the Calcutta (St Paul’s) Cathedral when its spire was still intact, the Alipore gaol, mosque of Gholaum Mahomed, the earl of Dalhousie laying the foundation of the medical hospital, a thoroughfare in “White” Calcutta with fine houses and the masts of ships against the skyline, and several views of the old fort (The first Fort William in Dalhousie square) and Prinsep’s ghat at a time when the Hooghly used to flow past it. The famous bore tide in the Hooghly is depicted in all its fury. Surprisingly, at least two prints depict a famine without its horrors. There are some rare prints by Fraser and the Daniells as well.

A print showing Prinsep Ghat

A very old photograph perhaps from the 1930s shows Dalhousie Square with the usual dome of the GPO and the Standard Assurance building in all its grace. The album of Calcutta photographs taken in 1947 by a GI is also here. This is one of the several copies of the album which the Pennsylvania State University used to create its famous archive of Calcutta photographs. Among the books are Charles Doyley’s Europeans in India, Hindostan with Description by Emma Roberts, Rock-cut Temples of India by James Fergusson.

Á Sèvres’s table at the store. Picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha

Collectors of curiosities will find some small sculptures by Dali that come with papers testifying to their authenticity. Multiple editions of these were made from original moulds. One of them is Dali’s self-portrait in his very own eccentric style.

Bhaichung’s fitness funda

Indian football’s pin-up boy Bhaichung Bhutia kicked off his second venture as entrepreneur on Friday. The founder and co-owner of United Sikkim FC has opened a fitness studio in his hometown Gangtok. The studio has been named BB15, derived from the initials and the jersey number of the Sikkimese sniper. And this, he promises, is the first of a chain.

“This venture has been on my mind for a year,” says Bhaichung over phone from Gangtok. “Fitness has been important to me through my footballing career and I want the culture to spread across all strata of society. If parents are health-conscious they would encourage their children to take up sports as well.”

This, Bhaichung says, is the first studio of its class in the Northeast, with all equipment coming from Technogym, the official fitness equipment supplier at London Olympics. Spread across 3,000sq ft, the studio was inaugurated by Olympian archer Tarundeep Rai. While his own team would train there, he plans to offer free membership to all Indian sportspersons who have represented the country at the international level. “Other than the cricketers, no one gets top-class infrastructure for training.”

Bhaichung in his new fitness studio

The former India skipper who used to train for three hours daily during his playing days still sweats it out regularly. “Most of my time goes behind my team. Still I spend an hour either in the gym or in the field six days a week. Madhuri (his wife) is a fitness freak too and has started using the gym,” he says.

Bhaichung wants BB15 to spread wings across eastern India. Yes, Calcutta is very much on his radar.

Contributed by Soumitra Das and Sudeshna Banerjee