A long-suffering Jessore Road victim says “thank you” to chief minister Mamata Banerjee for passing by.
PC Sorcar (Jr) making a pretty young woman in harem pants vanish on stage used to be my favourite abracadabra moment. That singular honour now belongs to the magic mantra “Mamata Banerjee” that can apparently make craters on a bumpy highway disappear overnight.
Thank you, Didi, for deciding to travel down our rickety Jessore Road on your way to Barasat on Tuesday.
For the first time in two months, my son’s school bus arrived at the gate to our complex at 1pm instead of 1.45pm.
For the first time in weeks, I boarded a taxi instead of a local train, safe in the knowledge that I wouldn’t get stuck in a crater-caused traffic mess for an hour or more.
For the first time since moving to an apartment complex near BT College More, I spotted 26 policemen — yes, I was so happy that I counted Special 26! — along a 5km stretch where you would be hard-pressed to find six on any other day.
My journey of surprises — pleasant ones for a change — had started the previous night. A payloader and workers in fluorescent half-jackets scraping off the road surface, bumps and all, in front of the Airport No. 2.5 Gate past midnight on Monday had made me wonder how long it would be before I could safely drive down Jessore Road again. I couldn’t have guessed that this was more about Mamata than some men at work.
The first sign of a high-speed transformation came at the curve in front of the Kali temple off Birati.
Gone were the craters that had prompted a young neighbour to update his Facebook status thus: “IN a bus from #Airport 1 No. Gate to #AponaloY…meri bachpan ki JHULA jhulne ki yaad aa gaya aj (Today, I have been reminded of my childhood days on a swing)!”
The road was still a dirt track but the jig-inducing mounds that reminded actor and MLA Chiranjit of dancer-choreographer Uday Shankar had been flattened under the wheels of a road roller groaning a few metres away.
An advertisement in the morning’s newspaper about a government programme in Barasat unravelled the secret behind the frantic makeover.
Didi, if only you had scheduled this visit two months earlier!
Your passage through our gateway of craters might have spared us the trauma of a rattle ride every day. Your glare might have got the cops to realise the pain of those forced to spend hours inside wailing ambulances caught in the quagmire of unmanaged traffic.
I think I know what to do the next time Jessore Road disintegrates after a spell of rain. I will invite you home for lunch.