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Call of the Living City

Sep 21, 2022

Kolkata has had its share of ups and downs this year, some would say more downs than ups. The Majerhat bridge collapse and the Bagri Market fire, in particular, scarred the city before its biggest festive season. These two issues still take up a large part of our mind space (and news columns); they have not had closure. 

But these incidents do not take away from the several positives of living in Kolkata. There have been infrastructure-related disasters. But the fact remains that Kolkata is adding to its public-use brick-and-mortar structures — flyovers, bridges and roads — at a rate faster than ever before. 

The mushrooming of new growth centres, which seemed to have bypassed our city a decade ago, is now a fact of life in Kolkata. The areas along EM Bypass and those along the connectors (between the Bypass and the old city centre) have seen a lot of development — mostly in the private sector and in the form of malls and new businesses — over the last few years. They are proof of a living city, a city in which millions continue to invest their money, their hard work and their hope for a better future. 

The addition of Metro lines along these routes is expected to spur growth further. And New Town continues to grow; the investment promises and opportunities will fuel this growth. 

These are some of our new positives, things that we can talk about when we spar with residents of other cities. Yes, this growth is happening after similar exponential growth in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Yes, Kolkata is playing catch-up. But the fact remains that this is happening, better late than never. 

And all this unfolds even as Kolkata has been able to hold on to its old positives. 

The city gives us a quality of life that residents of other cities have now forgotten. We can travel from the old central business district (Dalhousie/Esplanade/Park Street) to the new growth centres (Salt Lake’s Sector V) in an hour; try doing that in Bengaluru. We can rent a decent apartment without blowing up our salary; try getting one in Mumbai, where a balcony-less 2BHK flat even 22km from Churchgate can set you back by Rs 35,000 every month. 

And our “tilottoma” has actually grown cleaner and prettier. We can chuckle with a little bit of pride and indulgence when the evening streetlights and the new street furniture along Captain Bheri or Patuli draw praise from visiting colleagues, friends and relatives. 

We are also enjoying a certain renaissance in the arts; the new crop of Bengali film directors, who continue to please both masses and classes, is a sign of that revival. The “soft power” that Kolkata exports now includes our culinary heritage, which is winning over newer Indian cities and their residents. 

This campaign by TOI intends to celebrate these aspects of life in Kolkata, where the skyline has space for both the old — the Victoria Memorial and the Howrah Bridge — and the new (a skyscraper tearing upward through the heart of the city). 

The campaign that will unfold on these pages draws much of its strength from celebrated residents of the city, who have stayed at home but can claim to be citizens of the world. They will write on why they feel Kolkata needs to be celebrated even as it continues to learn from its own mistakes and the success stories of others. 

We would like to see Kolkata win new converts to its old way of life, where material growth and broadening of the mind are possible without throwing out old traditions. And we would like to see Kolkata’s old faithful keeping the faith in their city. “Once” was our past. “More” is what we want from our future. 

Kolkata Once More will show us how to bridge the gap between our past and our future. 

Write to us: If you are a proud citizen of Kolkata and feel that there is no other place you would rather be, share your Kolkata story on our Facebook page: facebook.com/PhireyEshoKolkataRead Full story here: https://m.timesofindia.com/city/kolkata/call-of-the-living-city/articleshow/66460059.cms

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