The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Down Under groom’s bride rides Banalata

A Calcutta-born NRI, now based in Adelaide, has returned here for his marriage and hired Banalata, a tramcar of the beleaguered Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC), for ferrying the bride’s entourage after the ceremony on Tuesday.

The couple, with friends and family, will ride from Fort William, where the ceremony will be held, to the groom’s Mayfair Road residence.

“I used to travel in trams to reach Calcutta Boys’ School, where I studied, and those memories come to mind whenever I take a tram in Adelaide,” observed would-be groom Siddharth Kapoor.

A lecturer of South Australia University in finance and business studies, Siddharth told Metro on Monday that he insisted on travelling in the flower-bedecked Banalata with his 60-odd friends and relatives “to relive my fond memories”.

Soon after the marriage is over, around midnight on Tuesday, Siddharth and his bride will take the tram from Fort William and travel a 10-km distance to reach his Mayfair Road residence.

The journey will be via Dharamtala, Lenin Sarani, Elliot Road and Park Circus.

“The two-hour ride in the tram will represent ‘Doli’, an essential component of our Punjabi weddings, to symbolise the bride’s arrival at her in-law’s house. I want to travel in a tram to popularise this century-old mode of transport, which is also in great demand in Australia,” the groom-to-be maintained.

Siddharth, who has settled in Australia for over seven years, said he was “inspired” by the Calcutta-Melbourne series of ‘friendship’ trams, and intends making a trip on a tram with the bride after returning there. “Let my wife experience a ride in trams either in Melbourne or in Adelaide and get the feel of a joyride,” he said.

For the fund-starved CTC, which is depending heavily on the government’s subsidy to run its 300-odd fleet, Siddharth’s offer has come as a boon.

Last month, when it let out Banalata to an accounts department employee for his marriage, the company received only Rs 5,000. “But this time, we are charging Rs 10,000 for a two-hour journey from the bride’s folks,” said D.C. Das, CTC’s operating manager (headquarters).

He said the company will arrange for a breakdown car, too, in the event of a derailment of Banalata. “Though we run Banalata on Saturdays and Sundays every week, we don’t want to take a risk, since this is an important ceremony and is taking place after midnight,” Das said. A traffic superintendent and two CTC sentries would also be posted on the streetcar.

Besides, the groom’s side has requisitioned four armed guards from a private security agency to be posted in the two bogies. “We have to make special security arrangements, since the bride and other women will be wearing jewellery,” said Satish Kapoor, Siddharth’s father.

Buoyed by the growing demand for Banalata, CTC officials said they would renovate the car and instal an air-conditioner for the two bogies this summer. “From April, we will introduce a well-furnished Banalata, so that people can hire it for marriages. This will help earn extra revenue,” the officials said.

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