| MOTHER 2002: The Maddox Square Durga. Picture by Pabitra Das
Kasba was the place to be, with sugarcane, long-playing records and biscuits in close proximity. With the lane towards Bosepukur, from Ruby Hospital, being sealed off, the only road leading to the three oddball pandals was the one over Bijon Setu. Steady footfall almost round-the-clock, crossing 10,000 per hour after sundown. Traffic spillover could be felt all the way to Garia.
Dhakuria was the setting for the duel between Jodhpur Park’s Dilwara temple and Babubagan’s Titumeer fort. The Bastar and Madhubani art of Selimpur Palli and Bandhab Sammilani and the Devi on Lord Jagannath’s chariot, beside Babubagan, opened up a third and fourth festive front. The crowd count on Dhakuria bridge crossed 15,000 in peak hour.
VIP Road was a favoured five-in-one draw for Sreebhumi Sporting Club’s Khajuraho replica, the dazzling lights along VIP Road from Golaghata to Lake Town, the cluster of temples at the Lake Town Adhibasibrinda puja, the meditating Durga at Dum Dum Park’s Tarun Sangha and the serenity of early autumn in rural Bengal at 4 Tank Yubak Brinda, nearby. Disruption of traffic was felt more during the day.
Md. Ali Park and College Square remained traditional favourites, with the theme of industrial recession in the Dilwara temple on CR Avenue capturing the imagination and the magic of lights on the College Street swimming pool grabbing the eye. The revellers’ roster was big, as was the presence of police and NCC volunteers.
Cheers for Md Ali Park. A combination of cops and club members achieved mission impossible — keeping CR Avenue snarl-free through most of the peak pandal-hop hours. A loud and clear public-address system barking decisive instructions helped streamline pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
Jeers for Jatra Shuru Sangha, Baishnabghata. In Hirak Rajar Deshe, near Garia, the magic of Ray left many ecstatic and many more stranded. Several dropped out of the winding line without a glimpse of Goopy, Bagha or the goddess.
Pat on the back for traffic management at Kasba, where the division of labour between city and state police (one managing traffic and the other checking law and order) did cause some confusion, but not enough to add to the crowd chaos.
The excessive traffic curbs drew grumbles from those forced to take a detour south, but compared to last year’s ‘no motion’, this time’s ‘slow motion’ was most welcome. Another feather in the khaki cap was CR Avenue, where despite dire predictions of traffic snarls, flow was as smooth as it can get during Puja evenings – thanks to proper planning and crafty collaboration with local volunteers.
Rap on the knuckles for failure to prevent a rare sight — roadblock on a Puja night. Irate members of Pallibasi Yubak Brinda, Vivekananda Road, took to the streets on Ashtami to protest frequent power cuts in the area. No senior officers were around and it took the police commissioner’s lathi to clear the road and restore order.
Among other ‘shadow’ zones of police neglect were Hatibagan and Sovabazar. And though VIP Road was better than last year, more needs to be done to clear the path for airport-bound traffic, specially during the day.
on track underground, with more trains, a steady passenger flow and rise in revenue. With 146 trains taking to the tracks between Dum Dum and Tollygunge on Ashtami and over 2.5 lakh pandal-crawlers hopping on, Metro was the revelry lifeline.
dil mange more was the crowd call, with a clamour for late-night services on Sashthi and Saptami and morning trains on all Puja days. Officials promise more Metros next year.
smiles for number power, with nearly 6,000 buses, 800 mini-buses and 30,000 taxis sharing the load of the festive crowd.
frowns for errant bus and minibus drivers flouting carefully-laid-out traffic plans, till cops at crossroads swung into action; bus operators who promised to ply till early morning but went off the streets soon after midnight; taxis that refused to respond, prompting the Progressive Taximen’s Union to deploy members from Ashtami to book rogue drivers.
LIGHTS On right through the Pujas — well, almost — with CESC power units generating around 1,050 mw, out of a capacity of 1,065 mw, in evening peak hours. Till Ashtami night, the CESC’s special vigilance cell inspected 1,420 pandals, lodged FIRs against 344 organisers for drawing electricity illegally and removed 705 hookings.
LIGHTS Out reported from Vivekananda Road, near the Chaltabagan Lohapatti pandal, prompting residents to put up a roadblock late on Ashtami. Members of Pallibasi Yubak Brinda alleged “sporadic power supply and CESC apathy” and did not budge till police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty intervened. Regent Park suffered on Sashthi due to a transformer snag and a feeder-line trip on Saptami. Also, on Saptami, Bagbazar and Shyambazar went on the blink due to a feeder-line trip near Cossipore. Trouble persisted in the Bagbazar area. On Ashtami, power-supply sputters were spotted on B.K. Pal Avenue and at Sovabazar, Barisha and Sakherbazar.
Decibel devils identified by the Pollution Control Board till Navami evening were Arya Sangha (Shyambazar), Swami Shaktipith Club (Baguiati), Rabindra Pally Junior Athletic Club (Keshtopur), Sandhari Club (CIT Road), Nabomilan Club (CIT Road), Netaji Sangha (N.S. Gupta Sarani), Lions Club (Teghoria).
MUTED MELODY emanated from Sri Sangha (S.N. Roy Road, Behala), Barisha Jana Kalyan Sangha (Behala), Maniktala Chaltabagan (Raja Ram Mohun Roy Sarani), Sealdah Sarbojanin (Sraddhananda Park), Vivekananda Sammelani (Liluah), Simla Byayam Samity (Vivekananda Road), Youth Association (Md Ali Park), Santosh Mitra Square (Sealdah), College Square (College Street).
the beat WAS RIGHT at Someplace Else, which hosted a High reunion concert on Sashthi; at Swabhumi, where Bangla band Cactus drew a huge crowd on Ashtami; The Park Banquet Hall to which thousands flocked for dandiya nights, with Moon Moon Sen being a star attraction.