Salt Lake residents share their first-time experiences
From the first book to the first shoot, here are the stories
- Published 3.01.20, 4:18 AM
- Updated 3.01.20, 4:18 AM
- 7 mins read
Hails from: CE Block, New Town
Background: Rituparna currently lives in Reading, UK, with family. When she came home to her parents in December, it was the block association that launched her debut novel Unloved in Love.
When I began writing Unloved in Love, I never imagined that I would end up with a published book. Yet, here I was with my first novel published by an upcoming publishing house, run by Dipankar Mukherjee, my fellow alumnus from IIT Madras.
It had been less than two years since my parents moved to New Town from Noida, and though they seemed to have settled down pretty well, I was not too sure if a debutant author’s launch would draw much crowd.
I’ve never been so wrong in my life! Baba just had to ask around and the block association came forward. Swarbhanu Chatterjee suggested Swapno Bhor as a location. What better way to launch a book than being surrounded by them in a library?
Debdas Chatterjee, a prominent resident, along with Prasanta Majhi, the administrator of Swapno Bhor, made the venue possible. There were also Alok Das and Tarak Baran Mukherjee, secretary and president respectively of CE Block Association, author Basudeb Mosel, elocutionist Barnali Sarkar and ophthalmologist and digital archivist P.B. Sarkar, along with dozens of neighbours. Chatterjee read an excerpt from the book and hosted the interaction. I’d never imagined such a warm welcome.
Works at: Women’s police station, Sector V
Background: Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate recently introduced all-women night patrol teams.
I have done patrol duty at night with male colleagues occasionally in my five-year stint with the police. But the night of December 24 was special as it was the first time that we stepped out as an all-woman team, with no man in our SUV except our driver.
It was around 11pm that our ACP (assistant commissioner of police) madam, one ASI (assistant sub-inspector), two lady constables and I took out seats in the patrol vehicle. The conversation amongst us was homely and relaxed. As we started doing the rounds of Nicco Park, Nalban and the Sector V lanes, we could make out a change in people’s approach towards us from the nights when I would be the sole woman in a team of policemen. So long, the public perception was that women cops would not be up to night duty on the streets all by themselves. It was feeling great to get to prove that wrong.
Yes, my family did and still does worry. Especially because on festive days, the ambience changes at night, bnadrami bere jay — especially behind the wheels. We see that during the Puja nights too, how some take the silencer pipes off their car or bike, creating an ear-splitting noise as they speed past. It becomes difficult to stop them without risking an accident! And of course, if there is an accident, the blame would be on us for trying to stop them. So it is a tricky situation.
The other worry is of a more private nature — if we need to answer nature’s call or are on periods. Of course, we make a note of options by way of public toilets. It is part of our training to know our jurisdiction area like the palm of our hand so that we can figure a way out in life-threatening situations. But at night, most toilets are shut and we usually head back to the electronics complex thana if anyone has a need.
Yes, it has been cold too. In fact, it was drizzling when we patrolled for the second night on December 26. But we cannot put on extra woollens over our uniform. We do have a white-and-blue woollen jacket, which, along with cottswool innerwear, suffices to keep off the chill.
We patrolled on foot in areas which were a bit crowded and checked vehicles for documents. Though we do not do drunk-driving checks on all-women patrol nights, we did slap fines on half a dozen drivers for faulty documents that night.
Around 2am, the roads became deserted and it was time to call it a night. It was 3am when I reached home in the Dum Dum cantonment area. So far, our orders are to continue all-women patrol till January 3. If it is extended, we will carry on.
As told to Sudeshna Banerjee
Resident of: Digantika, AH Block
Background: Rijula’s first film as director, Sarita, has got selected for the Kolkata International Micro Film Festival and will be screened on January 11 at a Park Street art gallery.
I’m a student of mass media at St. Andrew’s College of Arts, Science and Commerce in Mumbai and for our project we had to make a film. A friend of mine wrote a script on the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) theme and I ended up directing it.
The film is about a college-going girl meeting a transgender woman named Sarita on a shared app cab ride. The film is four minutes long, but if your vision is clear, that’s more than enough to send across your message. Like many of us, the girl in the film has prejudices about hijras, believing them to be uneducated, among other things. But not only does the girl learn that her co-passenger is educated but also that they share the same taste in books! Her prejudices dissolve.
This was the first serious film I directed and we had a small crew of just about seven people. While I was pretty happy with how it turned out my father (Rajib Roy), particularly, kept asking me to send it to festivals. I had no such aspirations or even confidence but he was insistent.
Frankly, it has still not sunk in that the film has got selected and I still haven’t informed too many people about it. I haven’t thought about what I want to do after graduating but as of now I feel encouraged. I shall send the film to more festivals and make more films, to start with.
As told to Brinda Sarkar
Resident of: BB Block
Background: The cast and crew of Sanjhbati, including Dev, Paoli Dam and Lily Chakraborty, parked themselves at the house of 86-year-old Sabita Ganguly for nine days to shoot for the film.
I am a member of the Bidhannagar Police initiative (for the elderly) Saanjhbaati. They had earlier interviewed me for a documentary. The request for the shoot came from them. Perhaps because I have a park in front of my house it was a convenient location for them. Since I was used to hosting social gatherings, I agreed.
During the nine days of the shoot in monsoon, there were 50 to 60 people in my house at any point of the day. But they were very disciplined so I was not bothered. I had asked them not to get into my bedroom and my toilet. They shot everywhere else, from the stairs to the other rooms to the roof. The road in front bustled with policemen.
It was amusing to see three festivals being observed within the space of a few days — Holi, Durga puja and Diwali. The puja took place at the park. They left nothing out — from kola bou snan and dhunuchi naach to sindur khela and immersion.
The Holi and the Diwali shoot took place on my roof. I have a room there which possibly was used as Dev’s room. He was playing a caretaker. Though they were organised sometimes they borrowed things from me like a shawl for Lily to wear. Once they asked me for a container. Apparently, Dev’s character was running a fever and they would have to apply jolpoti on his forehead.
I used to chat with Lily as she is my age. Paoli stayed busy but Dev also talked a lot. I told him I had seen his Chander Pahar and Amazon Obhijaan. I had liked Paoli’s acting in Moner Manush. I saw the film twice.
Dev loves soft drinks and used to raid my fridge which I kept stocked with mangoes as well. I also baked a cake for them. At my age, I could not do more.
I have often heard our domestic help reporting that shooting was taking place in the neighbourhood and some star had come. But this is the first time I had the experience. I must say it was enjoyable.
I missed the premiere as I am not well enough to travel alone to Nandan. I hope to catch the film in the theatre next week.
As told to Sudeshna Banerjee
Resident of: CE Block
Background: Sen, a senior IAS officer who is in charge of Hidco, took a short course in French language that ended last Saturday. The first batch was of 12 students. The classes took place in the New Town Library that opened on November 12 at Nazrul Tirtha.
Once we opened the library, the challenge was to bring people in. I was clear from the planning stage that we needed to host activities. That is why we have built small rooms adjoining the reading space.
In the second week, I hit upon the idea of offering free classes in French every Saturday. The condition was one had to become a member of the library.
I had learnt the language as part of our administrative training at Ecole Nationale d’Administration in France for which I was selected along with five others in 2002. Part of the course included a three-month stint at Cavilam, the language training centre at Vichy, about 90 minutes south of Paris.
Since it was the first time I was about to take a class in French and I have not been in practice, I decided to brush up my language skill. First I tried contacting a lady who had advertised offering tuitions in French at home. But one sitting was enough to prove to both of us that my knowledge was more than hers.
So I enrolled for a short refresher course in the foreign language division of Bidhannagar Ramakrishna Vivekananda Kendra and then I was all set.
Still, I admit, before the first class I was a bit worried about whether any of those who had signed up for my class might know more French than I did. That could have led to awkward situations. But within 10 minutes or so, I realised they were all novices and became comfortable.
The youngest of the batch was a Class IV girl who came with her father while the eldest was a senior citizen.
One basic change that has come over from the time I was a student is the access to audio visual material on the internet. Other than using some in class, I included several YouTube links in the reference list I handed them for further studies on the final day, on December 28, when I gave them a certificate.
In fact, I too am using a couple of apps to stay in touch with the language as I prepare for the next batch for which classes start in January.
As told to Sudeshna Banerjee