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I don’t get this about Christmas in Calcutta…

Mudar Patherya questions some constants about the city at year-end time

Mudar Patherya | Published 29.12.23, 06:34 PM
Park Street during Christmas – same old, same old?

Park Street during Christmas – same old, same old?

My Kolkata

Why do we use the word ‘Merry’ before ‘Christmas’ and ‘Happy’ before ‘New Year’ – unfailingly – but never ‘Happy’ before ‘Christmas’ and ‘Merry’ before ‘New Year’ (from 170,000 words actively used in the English language)?

Why has Park Street graduated into a Mecca for Christmas festivity when it has just one church in the vicinity (that most people do not visit anyway), narrow pavements, zero parking convenience, mono-directional traffic flow and expensive restaurants?

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Why will civic authorities not improve pavement quality, paint streetside facades (even cheap primer would be acceptable) and temporarily clear pavements on western Park Street of hawkers (near the Metro station) when this is the most visible street in India at this time of the year?

Why do we not graduate beyond cheap tuni lights on Park Street and must be hostaged by the same Chandernagore concoction that has remained unchanged for 50 years and likely to remain unchanged for the next 50?

Why does all our October Puja creativity disappear in just two months after we have hosted the largest street installation festival in the world and all we have to show for the jewels of our festive year-end is one street whose lighting and entertainment have been reduced to a monotonous template?

Why would hundreds of people queue for an hour outside Saldanha’s and Nahoum’s to buy cakes leading to Christmas and not care about the same cakes from 26 December to 20 December the following year?

Why would the confectioners not mention that their cakes contain a trace of rum and leave it to the customers to figure out?

Why would anyone want to drive through a congested city to wait one’s turn on a crowded Park Street pavement to be thirteenth in sequence for a table-for-two at a confectionery, sip Darjeeling tea, order pastries to be told ‘For that you will you have to place the order at our different counter’ and spend more than Rs 1,500 for something that would have cost Rs 300 elsewhere?

Why would the confectioners at Nahoum’s peddle the same cakes they have been producing for a century and not learn a trick or two from new-age bakers crafting bigger and better alternatives?

Why would the milk of our human concern for the marginalised be largely limited to the 10 days before Christmas and five days after, returning to our usual selves from January 1?

Why would anyone want to walk 300 Park Street metres as a year-end ritual, rub shoulders, jostle through people, say ‘Excuse me’ 13 times in 360 seconds and yet claim to have a ‘good time’?

Why would Christmas festival organisers in different parts of the city use a hideous combination of blue, pink, yellow and white lights to celebrate the most festive time of the year when superior LED alternatives are available?

Why has Bow Barracks graduated into a year-end icon when at best it remains tacky and predictable with no new creative energy?

Bow Barracks — simply a year-end icon?

Bow Barracks — simply a year-end icon?

Soumyajit Dey

Why is every corporate willing to put money into a 10-day Puja in October and not into a month-long celebration of the city two months later?

Why does a government that promotes the Pujo as a tourism event not do the same with an entire year-end month schedule, an opportunity canvas that cannot be matched anywhere in the country?

Why is there nothing better to do on Park Street than see people walk?

Why are Park Street establishments not extending beyond their business-as-usual boringness to host events, music or even a buggy-driven Santa (the only exception is a giant Christmas tree by the Apeejay Group), prompting the observation that everyone waits to capitalize but nobody seeks to contribute?

Apeejay’s giant Christmas Christmas tree on Park Street in 2021

Apeejay’s giant Christmas Christmas tree on Park Street in 2021

Why are the brand strategists not seeing the relatively unoccupied Christmas positioning territory as an opportunity to carve distinctive mind space without spending a fortune?

Why is south Kolkata not creating a Park Street alter ego on Southern Avenue? Why do the Police Band and the Army Band not organise streetside performances across multiple city locations to introduce a new Christmas sound that could be recalled with nostalgia across the decades?

Why do we spend most of our money on ephemeral items with fleeting relevance (also holds true for Durga Puja) but never on things that could leave a lastingly positive aesthetic impact on Calcutta?

Last updated on 29.12.23, 07:27 PM
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