The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Soccer, saint as sentinels
- Innovative resistance to the graffiti gang by house-owners and clubs

Ramakrishna and Ronaldo ' the sentinels of the city's walls are as diverse as they get. Evoking piety or passion, they ensure that the walls of the houses and clubs they adorn are left untouched by party cadre on the prowl with paint and brush.

With Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee determined to repeal the West Bengal Prevention of Property Defacement Act, 1976, and unleash writing on the wall, will these pockets of innovative resistance be spared or will they, too, be tarred by the graffiti gang'

Place: 142, Harish Mukherjee Road

What we saw: Ronaldo and Ronaldinho roar on one flank (unlike the Saturday night whimper), while Zidane, Figo and Ballack roar right back from another. Move over political graffiti, roars Goleo, lion mascot of World Cup 2006, on Bhowanipore's wall of fame.

Residentspeak: 'We wanted to protect this one wall from the shadow of politics. We started this wall-art culture in 1986, showcasing Bhowanipore's identity as a sports-loving locality. Now, it feels good to see the practice spreading across the city' ' a member of Bhowanipur Shilpi Sangha.

Place: 66, Prince Bakhtiar Shah Road, Tollygunge

What we saw: A lion, a bear and a little girl have set sail in a riot of colours, amidst a plea to not deface the walls.

Residentspeak: 'My little granddaughter used to get furious on waking up to a wall smeared with graffiti. We spent Rs 3,000 and got these pictures painted four years ago. People think this is a nursery school; no one has bothered us since' ' A 77-year-old resident.

Place:115, Jodhpur Park

What we saw: The wall is full of inspirational words, including quotable quotes from spiritual leaders like Sri Ramakrishna.

Residentspeak: 'In 1995, when the CPM boys wrote on the wall despite our requests, we got it whitewashed and wrote inspirational lines on it. The words of Sri Ramakrishna touch so many people. Many think it's an ashram; our wall is safe' ' A 85-year-old house-owner.

Place: Pratapaditya Road (Chetla Road crossing)

What we saw: Spiderman and Garfield on one side, Henry (Gablu) on the other.

Residentspeak: 'We used to be threatened by CPM cadre over graffiti. It was no use complaining to Tollygunge thana. Some local boys then came up with the idea of painting cartoons on the wall. We have lived in peace ever since. This is the way out for all house-owners' ' A 65-year-old resident.

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