The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cold shoulder to shutdown
- Metro Rail to malls, golf greens to tech offices, people go about their work like any other day

Bandh' What bandh' That was the dominant voice on Tuesday, as Calcutta decided to stay close to normal on the second shutdown in five days.

The city all but turned a deaf ear to the 24-hour bandh called by the SUCI. Though the numbers were less than on any given Tuesday, people were everywhere, from Metro Railway to malls, from the tee-off turf to tech offices.

The only visible impact of the bandh was in the downed school and shop shutters — from Gariahat to New Market — driven by the fear-of-damage factor.

But Tuesday’s non-bandh passed off without much damage being done.

Inspector-general (law and order) Raj Kanojia said there were no disruptions, apart from a stray incident in the south suburban division.

A key factor was the easy availability of public transport to get to work. Around 1,000 state buses, more than 5,000 private buses, autorickshaws and taxis plied, claimed transport minister Subhas Chakraborty.

The one exception to the new-found work culture on bandh day was good ol’ Writers’ Buildings, where attendance figures struggled to cross 45 per cent, though the official count was a more honourable 60 per cent.

Metro toured the city on a day Calcuttans said ‘enough is enough’ to yet another bandh. The story, of course, can be very different on December 14.

Infocom CXO Golf 2006 was teed-off (by Deepika Padukone) at noon. None of the 100-plus CEOs had any problems getting to the Royal. Birdies and business beat back the bandh.

The station was abustle. The Coromandel (Chennai) Express had just arrived and a long queue was forming in front of the pre-paid taxi booth outside. “Seeing so many cabs outside the station is heartening, as it means for once life is normal on a bandh,” said Adarsh Mehta, a resident of Girish Park returning from Chennai.

No train had to be cancelled on Tuesday and passenger traffic was “normal”, railway officials said.

Normal train movement with a slight drop in passenger traffic was the Metro Rail track record on bandh day.

At the Elgin Road mall, the footfall count on bandh Tuesday beat the figures of a regular Tuesday.

“Till 6 pm, more than 7,000 people had walked in, which is more than on a normal weekday,” said Subir Das, deputy general manager, Forum.

For Calcuttans at play not work, spending time at a mall-and-multiplex seems the best way to beat bandh blues. “One feels safe inside a mall and there are hangout options aplenty,” said Dipannita Das, a housewife, at Burp! food court.

INOX screens recorded a healthy average occupancy of 60 per cent, led by Dhoom 2.

Sun Microsystems, in association with India Infocom 2006, held the Sun Developer Summit at Oberoi Grand. The attendance figure: 375. “This reflects the sentiments of the citizens who refuse to allow such disruptions to come in their way of normal functioning,” said a Sun India official.

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